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William Hague 'disappointed' with Nigeria anti-gay law

DISAPPOINTED: William Hague (PA)

BRITISH FOREIGN secretary William Haguehas expressed huge displeasure over Nigeria’s enactment of a new law making gay relationships a crime.

Last week, Nigeria’s president, Goodluck Jonathan signed a the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, which makes it illegal for gay people to hold a meeting.

Any one caught breaking the law could be imprisoned for 14 years.

Those holding membership or encouragement of gay club, societies and organisations will be sentenced to 10 years, the new legislation states.

Nigeria’s anti-gay bill, signed and dated on January 7, has been condemned by a list of leaders across the world including Hague.

In a recent statement, Hague said: “We are disappointed that President Jonathan has given his assent to a Bill which will further criminalise same sex relationships in Nigeria.”

He argued that the Bill "directly infringes on fundamental rights of expression and association, which are guaranteed by the Nigerian Constitution and by Nigeria’s international treaty obligations."

Hague added: "The UK opposes any discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. We are concerned by the prospect this raises of further action against an already marginalised section of society.”

Nigeria continues to maintain a close relationship with Britain since it gained its independence in 1960.

Hague hopes to put pressure on Jonathan over this issue.

He said: “My colleague Jeremy Wright, Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice, raised our concerns with the Nigerian Foreign Minister on January 9, and our High Commissioner has raised the issue on a number of occasions with the President and other senior members of the Nigerian Government.”

“We will continue to lobby at the highest levels on this issue.”

US Secretary of state John Kerry, also expressed similar concern saying: “It is inconsistent with Nigeria’s international legal obligations and undermines the democratic reforms and human rights protections enshrined in its 1999 Constitution.

"People everywhere deserve to live in freedom and equality. No one should face violence or discrimination for who they are or who they love.

"We join with those in Nigeria who appeal for the protection of their fellow citizens’ fundamental freedoms and universal human rights.”

Campaigners have used the unpopular anti-gay bill as an opportunity to lambast the president.

Fani-Kayode, one of Jonathan’s fiercest critics, has spoken out against the president’s decision to implement the anti-gay bill.

“Boko Haram suicide bombers have struck again in Maiduguri today killing dozens of people", he said.

“Instead of fighting the war against terror, [Jonathan] is busy locking up gays. Shame on him.”

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