Saturday, March 03, 2007

The legislation under debate

I've received a request to provide the latest version of the Nigerian "same-sex marriage" legislation under debate in the Nigerian Federal Assembly. The following was provided to me by Scott Long of Human Rights Watch. Scott tells me that it is the same version that was debated before the Nigerian Senate last week.

For the record, it is also the same version that was published as an appendix to the Andrew Goddard / Ephraim Radner article from Fulcrum, linked to on my banner above [I have made no edits other than to format it for the web]:

BE IT ENACTED by the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as follows-

1. Short Title

This Act may be cited as Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act 2006.

2. Interpretation

In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires-

“Marriage” means a legally binding union between a man and a woman be it performed under the authority of the State, Islamic Law or Customary Law;

“Minister” means the Minister responsible for Internal Affairs”

“Same Sex Marriage” means the coming together of two persons of the same gender or sex in a civil union, marriage, domestic partnership or other form of same sex relationship for the purposes of cohabitation as husband and wife.

3. Validity and Recognition of Marriage.

For the avoidance of doubt only marriage entered into between a man and a woman under the marriage Act or under the Islamic and Customary Laws are valid and recognized in Nigeria.

4. Prohibition of Same Sex Marriage, etc.
  1. Marriage between persons of the same sex and adoption of children by them in or out of a same sex marriage or relationship is prohibited in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
  2. Any marriage entered into by persons of same sex pursuant to a license issued by another state, country, foreign jurisdiction or otherwise shall be void in the Federal Republic of Nigeria,
  3. Marriages between persons of the same sex are invalid and shall not be recognized as entitled to the benefits of a valid marriage.
  4. Any contractual or other rights granted to persons involved in same sex marriage or accruing to such persons by virtue of a license shall be unenforceable in any Court of law in Nigeria.
  5. The Courts in Nigeria shall have no jurisdiction to grant a divorce, separation and maintenance orders with regard to such same sex marriage, consider or rule on any of their rights arising from or in connection with such marriage.
5. Non-Recognition of Same Sex Marriage
  1. Marriage between persons of same sex entered into in any jurisdiction whether within or outside Nigeria, any other state or country or otherwise or any other location or relationships between persons of the same sex which are treated as marriage in any jurisdiction, whether within or out side Nigeria are not recognized in Nigeria.
  2. All arms of government and agencies in the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall not give effect to any public act, record or judicial proceeding within or outside Nigeria, with regard to same sex marriage or relationship or a claim arising from such marriage or relationship.
6. Prohibition of celebration of same sex marriage in a place of worship
  1. Same sex marriage shall not be celebrated in any place of worship by any recognized cleric of a Mosque, Church, denomination or body to which such place of worship belongs.
  2. No marriage license shall be issued to parties of the same sex in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
7. Prohibition of Registration of Gay Clubs and Societies and Publicity of same sex sexual relationship.
  1. Registration of Gay Clubs, Societies and organizations by whatever name they are called in institutions from Secondary to the tertiary level or other institutions in particular and, in Nigeria generally, by government agencies is hereby prohibited.
  2. Publicity, procession and public show of same sex amorous relationship through the electronic or print media physically, directly, indirectly or otherwise are prohibited in Nigeria.
  3. Any person who is involved in the registration of gay clubs, societies and organizations, sustenance, procession or meetings, publicity and public show of same sex amorous relationship directly or indirectly in public and in private is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a term of 5 years imprisonment.
8. Offences and Penalties.
  1. Any person goes through the ceremony of marriage with a person of the same sex is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a term of 5 years imprisonment.
  2. Any person performs, witnesses, aids or abets the ceremony of same sex marriage is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a term of 5 years imprisonment.
9. Jurisdiction

The High Court in the States and the Federal Capital Territory shall have jurisdiction to entertain all matters, causes and proceedings arising from same sex marriages and relationships.


This Act shall prohibit in the Federal Republic of Nigeria the relationship between persons of the same sex, celebration of marriage by them and other matters connected therewith.
My objections are to Sections 6(1) (but not 6(2)), 7, and 8, but I am primarily worried about Sections 7 and 8, since they would effectively, and in the context of Nigeria's police and judicial systems, abridge all speech, assembly, press, and free exercise of religion rights for gay and lesbian Nigerians speaking out on their own behalf.

I can make no principled objection to Sections 1-5, or to 6(2), since these are provisions that are under debate in many states here in the US and it would be the weakest of arguments (if not rank hypocrisy) for me to call for gay marriage to be recognized by the Nigerian Federal Government if it is not so recognized in my own country.

Thus, I have only ever called for Archbishop Akinola to qualify his endorsement by explicitly denouncing Sections 6(1), 7, and 8. In addition, I believe that is only these changes to the legislation that Bishop Minns of CANA and Bishop Duncan of The Anglican Communion Network are morally obligated to pressure Archbishop Akinola to demand. Many will argue that failure to do so would be tantamount to organized and church-sponsored persecution of Nigeria's homosexual minority.

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