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Nigeria’s president signs anti-gay bill into law

Measure prescribes stiff jail sentences for offenders, prohibits gay rights advocacy and bans gay marriage

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has signed off on anti-gay law that bans same-sex marriage, prevents the formation of organizations that support gay rights, and establishes prison sentences of up to 14 years for offenders. Credit: wikimedia.org

Nigeria's president Goodluck Jonathan has signed off on an anti-gay bill that makes it a criminal offence to engage in gay rights advocacy, prohibits gay marriage and prescribes stiff jail sentences for public demonstrations of same-sex affection.

A spokesperson for the president confirmed that Jonathan had signed the measure, Reuters reports. The country's lawmakers had approved the measure in May, but it had only received its final Senate clearance in December.

American Secretary of State John Kerry says the US is "deeply concerned" about the country's enactment of the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, according to a statement on the State Department's website.

"Beyond even prohibiting same sex marriage, this law dangerously restricts freedom of assembly, association, and expression for all Nigerians. Moreover, it is inconsistent with Nigeria’s international legal obligations and undermines the democratic reforms and human rights protections enshrined in its 1999 Constitution. People everywhere deserve to live in freedom and equality. No one should face violence or discrimination for who they are or who they love," the statement says.