Mrs Catherin Ashton, High Representative of the union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
By Zacheaus Somorinâ€¨
The European Union has faulted what it termed as criminalisation of same-sex marriage by the National Assembly.
A statement made available to THISDAY monday and signed by the High Representative of the union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Mrs Catherin Ashton, said the EU neither sought to promote nor discourage same sex marriages, but was opposed to discrimination or any form of legislation that seeks to persecute anybody on the basis of sexual orientation.
Ashton, who is also the Vice-President of the European Commission, said the EU was against any law opposing any restrictions on freedom of expression, association and assembly or persecution of those who defend these freedoms.
The statement said: “I am concerned that Nigerian lawmakers have voted to accept a bill that would criminalise same sex marriage.The EU seeks neither to promote nor discourage same sex marriages, but has been clear it opposes discrimination or any form of legislation that seeks to persecute someone on the basis of sexual orientation.
“The EU also opposes any restrictions on freedom of expression, association and assembly, or persecution of those who defend these freedoms.”
The House of Representatives had last week passed into law a bill seeking to prohibit marriage contracts and civil unions entered between persons of same gender in Nigeria. Those who indulge in such practices under any guise shall not be entitled to the benefits of a valid marriage.
Under the new law, marriage contracts or civil unions entered between persons of same gender by virtue of a certificate issued by a foreign country shall be not be recognised in Nigeria. Similarly, any benefits accruing from such marriages contracted abroad shall not be enforced by any court of law in Nigeria.
A section of the legislation states as follows: “ Marriage or civil union entered between persons of same gender shall not be solemnised in any place of worship such as the church and mosque or any other place in Nigeria.
“Only marriage contract between a man and a woman under Islamic Law, Customary Law and Marriage Act is valid in Nigeria.
“The registration of gay clubs, societies and organisations, their sustenance, processions and meetings are hereby prohibited. The public show of same sex amorous relationship directly or indirectly is hereby prohibited.”
Besides, the law provides appropriate punishment for breaches. Henceforth, persons who enter into a same gender marriage or civil union contract commit an offence and would be jointly liable on conviction to a term of 14 years imprisonment each.
On the other hand, any person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organisations, or directly or indirectly, makes a public show of same sex amorous relationship commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a term of ten 10 years imprisonment.
Similarly, any person or group of persons who witness, screens, shields, aids and abets the solemnisation of same sex marriage contract or civil union or supports the registration of gay clubs, societies and organisations, processions or meetings in Nigeria commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a term of 10 years imprisonment.