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America threatens Nigeria sanctions over anti-gay laws

AMERICAN REPRESENTATIVE: US ambassador James Entwistle, second left, with Nigerian regional leaders

THE US government is to scale down its support for HIV/AIDS and anti-malaria programmes in Nigeria following President Goodluck Jonathan’s signing of the Same-Sex Prohibition Act 2014.

American ambassador to Nigeria James Entwistle is among those who have spoken against Jonathan’s decision to sign the anti-gay bill.

The legislation, which makes it illegal for gay people to hold meetings, states that “only marriage contracted between a man and a woman shall be recognised as valid in Nigeria.”

It adds: “Any persons who entered into a same-sex marriage contract or civil union commit an offence and are each liable on conviction to a term of 14 years in prison.”

The bill has gained the support of leading religious officials such as Matthew Kukah, the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, but has received widespread criticism from leaders in the western world.

In a speech given yesterday (Jan 20) to reporters in Abuja, Entwistle suggested that the American government might look into scaling down the support it gives to Nigeria in fighting against HIV/AIDS and anti-malaria.

"As you know, we put millions of dollars in the fight against HIV/AID,” the US envoy reportedly said.

"And again, I am not a lawyer; I read the law and it seems to me that it may put some restrictions on what we can do to help fight HIV/AIDS in this country. These are the issues we are looking at as we look at the law."

However, it seems as though Entwistle’s threat was taken with a pinch of salt by the Nigerian government.

Reuben Abati, the special adviser to the president on media matters said Nigeria does not need to take advise from anyone.

He said: “It is actually illegal to spank children in many US states and in much of Europe and Nigerian parents have been arrested for motivating their children via spanking.

"Now, if foreign domains would not tolerate something that is part of our own culture and which has been used to positive effects by generations of Nigerians, why should we accept something that is not in our own culture in order to please others?”

Nigerian ambassador to US, Dahiru Suleiman, yesterday, described homosexuality and lesbianism as “animalistic and degrading to humanity.”

The UK has also thought about cutting aid to countries who implement the anti-gay bill.

However, Nigeria, the most populous country does not need to rely on foreign aid. The West African country is the eighth largest oil producer in the world.

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