There was drama Wednesday at the Chief Magistrates’ Court in Ogbaru Council Area of Anambra State, when people, suspected to be homosexuals, stormed the court to protest the arrest and prosecution of two men standing trial for homosexuality.
Reports say the protesters, about 50 in number, arrived the court premises at about 9.00 a.m., and chanted anti-police slogans calling for the immediate unconditional release of the two men being tried by the court.
Saying they came to express their fundamental human rights and to show solidarity with their members, the group stressed they would continue to fight for their rights, despite the ongoing effort by the National Assembly to criminalise same-sex relationships.
The court later ordered the two suspects remanded in prison on the grounds that the magistrates’ court had no jurisdiction to hear the matter.
The House of Representatives had on May 30 approved 14-year imprisonment for persons who contract same-sex marriage in the country and 10 years for public show of same-sex relationship.
This was sequel to a clause-by-clause consideration of a bill for an act to prohibit marriage or union entered between persons of same-sex, at the Committee of the Whole.
“Marriage or civil union entered between persons of same gender shall not be solemnised in any place of worship, either church or mosque or any place in Nigeria,” it said.
Rep. Albert Sam-Tsokwa (PDP-Taraba), who introduced the bill, had argued that the law should be made to achieve far-reaching objective by outlawing same-sex marriage and provide punishment for offenders.
It also set out a 10-year sentence for “any person who directly or indirectly makes public show of same-sex amorous relationships’’.
“Any persons or group of persons that administers, witnesses, screen and shields the solemnisation of same sex marriage in Nigeria on conviction, will be liable to 10 years imprisonment”.
The Nigerian Senate had approved the same law in November 2011.
The bill is expected to be sent to the senate for concurrence and would only become law after the concurred bill is signed by President Goodluck Jonathan; or should he refuse, his refusal is vetoed by the two chambers of the National Assembly.
The National Assembly passed the law after ignoring threats by the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, who warned that his country would consider withholding aid from countries that did not recognise gay rights.