Senate President David Mark
The Senate yesterday unanimously passed a harmonised Conference Committee report banning same sex marriage in Nigeria.
The Senate passed the Same Sex Marriage Bill, 2011 on November 29, and the House of Representatives passed it on July 2.
Following the variations in the two versions passed, both chambers set up a conference committee to harmonise the differences, which appeared essentially in five clauses of the bill.
According to a report by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Chairman of the committee, Senator Umaru Dahiru (PDP-Sokoto), who presented the report, appealed to senators to pass the report because the committee had tightened all loose ends.
Senate President David Mark, who presided over the plenary, appealed to President Goodluck Jonathan to quickly assent to the bill so that it could become a law.
“We have been under a series of attack from different quarters. I think we believe in this bill.
“The earlier we sign it into law, the better. We (Nigeria) have many shortcomings, we don’t want to add this one (same sex marriage) to them,’’ Mark said.
The bill passed by the Senate provides: a marriage contract or civil union entered into between persons of same sex by virtue of a certificate issued by a foreign country shall be void in Nigeria.
Also, marriage or civil union entered into between persons of same sex shall not be solemnised in any place of worship either in a church or mosque or any other place in Nigeria.
Again, only marriage contracted between a man and a woman either under Islamic law, Customary law or the Marriage Act is recognised as valid in Nigeria.
The bill also provided that persons that enter into a same sex marriage or civil union contract commit an offence and are jointly liable on conviction to a term of 14 years imprisonment each.
It also states that it is an offence for any person or group of persons to administers, witnesses, screens, abet and aids the solemnisation of a same sex marriage contract or civil union or supports the registration.
It is also an offence to operate gay clubs, societies and organisations, processions or meetings in Nigeria.
Such a person is liable and on conviction shall be sentenced to 10 years imprisonment.