The Senate in Abuja on Tuesday unanimously passed a harmonised Conference Committee report banning same sex marriage in Nigeria.
The Senate had passed the Same Sex Marriage Bill, 2011 on Nov. 29, and the House of Representatives passed it on July 2.
Following the variations in the two versions passed, both chambers set up a conference committee to harmonise the differences which appeared essentially in five clauses of the bill.
The Chairman of the committee, Sen. Umaru Dahiru (PDP-Sokoto), who presented the report, appealed to members of the Senate to pass the report because the committee had tightened all loose ends.
The Senate President, David Mark, who presided over the plenary, appealed to President Goodluck Jonathan to quickly assent to the bill so that it could become a law.
“We have been under series of attack from different quarters. I think we believe in this bill. The earlier we sign it into law, the better. We (Nigeria) have many shortcomings, we don’t want to add this one (same sex marriage) to them,’’ Mark said.
The bill passed by the Senate provides: a marriage contract or civil union entered into between persons of same sex by virtue of a certificate issued by a foreign country shall be void in Nigeria.
Also, marriage or civil union entered into between persons of same sex shall not be solemnised in any place of worship either Church or Mosque or any other place whatsoever called in Nigeria.
Again, only marriage contracted between a man and a woman either under Islamic Law, Customary Law or the Marriage Act is recognised as valid in Nigeria.
The bill also provided that persons that enter into a same sex marriage or civil union contract commit an offence and are jointly liable on conviction to a term of 14 years imprisonment each.
It also states that it is an offence for any persons or group of persons to administers, witnesses, screens, abet and aids the solemnisation of a same sex marriage contract or civil union or supports the registration.
It is also an offence to operate gay clubs, societies and organisations, processions or meetings in Nigeria.
Such a person is liable and on conviction shall be sentenced to a term of 10 years imprisonment.