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Enthusiasm Over Same Sex Bill Wanes

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When the Senate Passed the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill in November 2011, controversy reigned. The bill polarised opinions. Foreign governments, international human rights organisations, some of their Nigerian counterparts, as well as the muted local gay and lesbian community in Nigeria raised alarm on the implications of the Bill on human rights in Nigeria. The religious community on the other hand praised the bill as an important piece of legislation, which preserved morality and returned Nigeria to a God-fearing Nation.

Senate President, David Mark, adumbrating the views of hardliner legislators warned that there was no going back on the passage of the bill.  David Mark warned western governments who were unhappy with the bill that Nigeria was going to go ahead with the passage of the bill even if it meant a cessation of development aid to Nigeria.  Following in the footsteps of its Senate counterpart, the House of Representatives passed the bill in July 2013.

After 3rd reading and passage of a bill by the legislature, the next step is for the President to assent to the bill. But before that, both the Senate and House versions of the bill need to be harmonised and the Clerk of the House where the bill originated has to produce a “clean copy” of the bill to ensure that all the resolutions or amendments made in the process of passage is captured in the bill before it is sent to the President. It appears that this is yet to be done by the National Assembly.

The passage of the “Bill to Prohibit Marriage or Civil Union Entered Between Persons of Same Sex, Solemnization of Same and for Other Related Matters” by the National Assembly, no doubt caused frenzy both domestically and internationally, but the fact remains that the fate of this bill is uncertain. The enthusiasm that preceded the passage of the bill in the National Assembly seems to be dissipating and there is the possibility that the bill would not mature into law and could end up comatose and moribund.