Kerry slams Nigeria's gay marriage ban

Secretary of State John Kerry slammed a new Nigerian law banning same-sex marriage on Monday, denouncing it as an affront to human rights and democracy.

The law would also ban homosexual associations and meetings, with penalties of up to 14 years in prison for same-sex couples that enter into civil unions. It was passed by President Goodluck Jonathan on Jan. 7 but the Associated Press was only able to obtain a copy on Monday.

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“The United States is deeply concerned by Nigeria’s enactment of the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act,” Kerry said in a statement. “Beyond even prohibiting same sex marriage, this law dangerously restricts freedom of assembly, association, and expression for all Nigerians.”

The law targets anyone who “registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies or organizations, or directly or indirectly makes public show of same-sex amorous relationship in Nigeria.” The penalty is 10 years in prison.

The law, Kerry said, 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,” he said. “We join with those in Nigeria who appeal for the protection of their fellow citizens’ fundamental freedoms and universal human rights.”

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