|Stephane Tchakam, ILGA|
|Stephane Tchakam, ILGA|
As Nigeria grieves the death of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, speculations are mounting about the fate of the pending Same Gender Marriage Prohibition Bill which seeks to outlaw same sex marriages, introduced under the leadership of former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2006.
While Yar’Adua would be remembered for setting standards that distinguished him as a good man and a servant-leader, who meant well for his people and his country, under his leadership the Same Gender Prohibition Bill was passed by the House of representatives in 2009 and he never publicly condemned this law which also prohibits the mere witnessing of same sex marriages.
The Bill would still need to be approved by the Senate before it could become law but Yar’Adua’s government kept mum about it while gay rights activists were optimistic that pressure from both local and international institutions could stop the Bill from being passed into law.
The Bill was first approved by the Federal Executive Council in January 2007 and was temporarily halted because of the 2007 elections that saw Yar’Adua coming to power.
It was later revisited in January 2009, and speculation is that the bill is most likely to be revisited soon, because of pressure from religious leaders who have been vocal in support of the bill.
Reverend Peter Akinola, a vocal supporter of the bill, in 2009 stated in a position paper that, “the introduction of this bill at this stage of national development is one of the best things that have happened to us as a nation.”
Meanwhile Davis Mac – Iyalla of Changing Attitudes Nigeria is certain that the Bill will never get international support due to its “harsh” nature.
He however warned, “Because the new president (Goodluck Jonathan) is an Anglican, those who have been supporters of the bill, like Bishop Akinola may take advantage of the situation and start to lobby for the Same Gender Marriage Prohibition Bill to be passed into law.”
But Oliver Anene of Male Attitude Network Nigeria thinks that the change in government won’t have any impact on the Bill. “Unless someone within the government brings it [the Bill] up for review, for now things will probably stay the same”, he said.
President Goodluck Jonathan assumed duties as acting president in February and was sworn in as president last week Thursday, 06 May this year following Yar’Aduar’s death.
He is a devoted Anglican, a communion which has for years been embroiled in schism regarding homosexuality.