When most people think about homophobia in Africa, the first thing that usually comes to mind is Uganda's "kill the gays" bill. But Nigeria may be about to enact a law that is almost as odious. Under this proposal, forming a gay rights organization could get you thrown in jail.
Nigeria's Senate passed the bill in November 2011, but it did not emerge in the house until Thursday. Under previous versions of the bill, couples who marry could face up to 14 years each in prison. Witnesses or anyone who helps couples marry could be jailed for 10 years.Once any differences between the two bills are ironed out, this monstrosity goes to President Goodluck Jonathan for his signature. However, that isn't guaranteed, as both Washington and London have let it be known that Abuja will face serious cuts to AIDS outreach programs if this bill becomes law.
The bill also makes it illegal to register gay clubs or organisations criminalises the "public show of same-sex amorous relationships directly or indirectly". Those who violate these aspects would face 10 years in jail.
To get an idea of just how deep the hostility to gay rights runs in Nigeria, when this bill was passed by the Senate in 2011, one member of that body said, "Such elements in society should be killed."
To my knowledge, this is the first time I've heard of a law that makes even advocating for gay rights a crime. Wherever you stand on gay rights, this is wrong. Just wrong. It would be no less outrageous if we were talking about a law to make gay-bashing illegal.