Same-Sex Relationships and Marriage in Nigeria

What is Same-Sex Marriage

Same-sex marriage is a marriage of individuals of the same sex. It could be either between 2 males or 2 females. The law in Nigeria makes this illegal, and it is a punishable offence.

Position of the Law in Nigeria

In 2013, the Nigerian National Assembly passed a law which made same sex Marriages illegal. However, prior to this Law, the Criminal Code of Nigeria already made gay relations between men illegal.

In Sections 214 of the Criminal Code, it provides that:

‘Any person who‐

(1) has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature; or

(2) has carnal knowledge of an animal; or

(3) permits a male person to have carnal knowledge of him or her against the order of nature,

is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for fourteen years.’

The Criminal Code then goes further in Section 215 to provide that any attempt to do any of the acts in Section 214, is punishable upon conviction by 7 years imprisonment.

After the passage of the Same Sex Prohibition Act 2013, the Law went further and specifically outlawed same sex marriages between men and women of the same sex. It prohibits a marriage contract or civil union entered into between persons of the same sex, and provides penalties for the solemnization and witnessing of such a ceremony.

Some of the key provisions of the Same-sex Prohibition Act

  • Prohibits marriage or civil union of individuals of the same sex

The Act prohibits the marriages of these individuals and provides that any marriages entered into between individuals of the same sex in a foreign country shall be invalid in Nigeria. It explicitly provides that a Marriage certificate can not be presented to individuals of the same sex. The penalty for entering into a same sex marriage contract or civil union is imprisonment for 14 years upon conviction.

Apart from marriages, it also prohibits the public show of same sex amorous relationships. The penalty for this offence is 10 years imprisonment upon conviction.

  • Prohibits the registration of gay clubs, societies and organisations

The Act also makes it illegal to register gay clubs, societies, and organisations, and and their meetings and processions are also illegal. The penalty upon conviction for these offences is 10 years imprisonment.

  • ‘Accomplices’

The law goes further to provide that anyone who administers, witnesses, or assists the solemnization of a same sex marriage or civil union, or supports the registration and operation of a gay club or organisation is guilty of an offence and is liable to imprisonment for 10 years upon conviction.

You may read the full provisions of the Law here – Same Sex Prohibition Act 2013.

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We hope you have found this information helpfulPlease note that this information is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. No lawyer-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. This answer is not intended to substitute for the advice of a qualified lawyer. If you require legal advice, please consult with a qualified lawyer.

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