•Culprits to face 14 yrs imprisonment •Insists ban is irrevocable
From ADETUTU FOLASADE-KOYI, Abuja
Shrugging off pressures from some sections of the international community and human rights activists over legalization of same sex marriage in Nigeria, Senate President, David Mark has insisted that the bill prohibiting same sex marriage is irrevocable.
Senator Mark said in addition to the ban, same-sex marriage in Nigeria is now a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment of not less than 14 years. He said this when he addressed Catholic faithful and guests at the civic reception in honour of the Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan in Abuja at the weekend. The Senate president reiterated that despite the pressures from some quarters, the law had come to stay. His words: “We will not compromise on this.
I want to invite you all to join the crusade of decency in our society. There are many good values we can copy from other societies, but certainly not this one (same sex marriage). “We have to prove to the rest of the world, who are advocates of this unnatural way that we, Nigerians promote and respect sanity, morality and humanity. Every individual is a product of the union of a man and a woman.”
He acknowledged the cordial relationship between the Nigerian state and the Church and pledged that the National Assembly would continue to do all within the law to ensure religious freedom and peaceful co-existence in the country.
Mark added that the National Assembly would continue to support religious programmes that have positive bearing on Nigerians, but was quick to condemn religious intolerance or extremism. He also urged spiritual leaders to continue to pray for good governance, peace and security in our society today. In his remarks, Cardinal Onaiyekan expressed appreciation to the Pope Benedict xii, the government and people of Nigeria for their prayers and support, especially since his elevation to the College of Cardinals, adding that he would continue to be a crusader for peace and unity of the nation.