ABUJA, Nigeria, December 1, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Nigeria’s Senate passed a ban on same-sex “marriage” Tuesday in the face of threats by UK Prime Minister David Cameron of aid cuts to African countries that fail to uphold special rights for homosexuals.
The bill, which now moves to the lower house and will need the signature of Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, establishes that the state only recognizes marriages between a man and a woman. It imposes a 14-year sentence for same-gendered couples that attempt to wed and a 10-year sentence for those who witness or assist at a same-sex “wedding”.
It also bans involvement in homosexual activist groups and public displays of affection by homosexual couples.
“If there is any country that wants to stop giving aid because we won’t pass the bill on same sex marriage, that country can go ahead,” said Sen. David Mark, president of the upper house.
“We are a sovereign nation and we have the right to decide for ourselves because no country can interfere in the way we run our country,” he continued. “Same sex marriage is against our own culture and tradition and against our beliefs.”
At the October Commonwealth conference in Perth, Australia, Cameron told media that British aid “should have more strings attached.”
“We want to see countries that receive our aid adhering to proper human rights, and that includes how people treat gay and lesbian people,” he said.
The Prime Minister’s comments followed a failed bid by the UK, Canada, and other Western countries to pressure African Commonwealth members to rescind their pro-family laws.
The effort sparked a strong rebuff from numerous African countries who were enraged that rich Western countries would use aid money to dictate cultural and moral values.
On Wednesday, Cameron’s High Commissioner to Nigeria Andrew Lloyd said his government would not tolerate the bill’s enactment, though he claimed Western nations are not seeking to impose their cultures or religions.
“It is wrong to punish people for mere expression of their relationships or for choosing to become what they have chosen for themselves,” said Lloyd. “Punishment is infringement upon their fundamental human rights and the western countries would not condone the action.”
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird claimed Wednesday that the bill violates basic human rights, and insisted that Canada will continue to demand openness to homosexuality in foreign countries “in the most forceful of terms.”