By Iheanacho Nwosu and Chuks Akunn, Abuja
Agitations for legislation of gay mariage in Nigeria was dealt another blow yesterday as the House of Representatives, unanimously threw out the Bill.
The development was coming a year after the Senate passed a bill banning same-sex marriage and prescribed 14 years imprisonment for violators.
The Senate Bill is awaiting ratification by the House before it will be assented to by President Goodluck Jonathan.
The Bill, presented before the House sought to strenghten the existing legislation which already outlaws gay sex by criminalising anyone who witnesses or assists such marriages, or make public displays of affection by people of same sex, a culpable offence. Under the new law, groups that support gay rights would also be banned.
Reeling out the relevance of the Bill, the House Majority Leader, Hon Mulikat Adeola-Akande (PDP Oyo) noted: “It is alien to our society and culture and it must not be imported. Our religions abhor it and our culture has no place for it.” Akande’s position drew support from members who also flayed, in strong terms, the introduction of such practice to human sexual relationship. Hon. Adams Jagaba Adams (Kaduna PDP) and Bimbo Daramola (Ekiti ACN) implored Nigerians to defy threats from Western countries to freeze their aids to Nigeria over their opposition to the act. On her part, the Chairman, House Committee on Diaspora, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa (Lagos ACN) while expressing support for Bill called for caution in view of the touchy human rights implication on persons likely to be affected by the legislation. In his contribution, House Minority Leader and Leader of Opposition, Femi Gbajabiamila (Lagos ACN),contended: “The Bill represents a convergence of both law and morality. This issue (same-sex marriage) is both illegal and immoral”.
He insisted that same sex marriage was a clear breach of Nigeria’s Marriage Act. In the same vein, the Chairman, House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje (Abia PDP) argued that the Bill presented “a competition between religious principles and international convention which Nigeria is a signatory to.” After an exhaustive debate which lasted for about two hours, Speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal refered the Bill to the Committee of the Whole for further legislative action.