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US slams Nigerian anti-gay law

14 January 2014, 12:11

Washington - The United States on Monday criticised Nigeria for approving a law that punishes same-sex marriage with prison, saying the move would curtail basic human rights.

Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States was "deeply concerned" by Nigeria's new law which "dangerously restricts freedom of assembly, association and expression for all Nigerians".

Kerry said the act "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," Kerry said in a statement.

Under the new law, anyone in a same-sex marriage or union would face up to 14 years in prison, with such partnerships reached overseas considered void in Nigeria.

President Goodluck Jonathan signed the law because he considered it consistent with most Nigerians' views toward homosexuality, his spokesman, Reuben Abati, told AFP.

State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said that the United States had been in "continual contact" with Nigeria to voice concern over the law since it was first drafted.

Approval of the law "may make some work in the country harder to do, but we clearly have a relationship there that's an important one, and we'll continue working together," Harf told reporters without elaborating further.

The United States has generally warm relations with Nigeria but President Barack Obama's administration has increasingly put a priority on fighting for gay rights overseas.

"We're very clear, whether it's Africa or somewhere else, that this is something we feel very, very strongly about," Harf said of gay rights.

In Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni has said that he will not rush into signing a law under which gays would be jailed after criticism from Obama, Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu and other global figures.



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