Britain and other western countries would not tolerate any law that prescribes punishment for gays as being enacted by the National Assembly, British High Commissioner to Nigeria Andrew Lloyd has said.
The Senate passed a bill on Tuesday outlawing same-sex marriages as well as banning public displays of affection between homosexual couples, with a provision of a 14-year jail term for anyone entering into same-sex marriage or civil union.
"It is wrong to punish people for mere expression of their relationships or for choosing to become what they have chosen for themselves," Mr. Lloyd told journalists in Dutse yesterday, shortly after holding a meeting with Jigawa State Governor Sule Lamido.
"Punishment is infringement upon their fundamental human rights and the western countries would not condone the action," he added.
British Prime Minister David Cameron had earlier warned that his country will consider withholding aid from countries that do not recognise gay rights.
But Senate President David Mark said during debate on the bill on Tuesday that "our values are our values... If there is any country that does not want to give us aid or assistance just because we want to hold on to our values, that country can keep her aid and assistance."
Lloyd yesterday said countries have rights to exhibit their cultural and religious norms but laws punishing expression of one's sexuality should not be a yardstick for transgression on the individuals.
He said though Western nations were not trying to impose their culture or religions on other countries, it was imperative to avoid molestation, harassment or stigmatisation of any same-sex persons.
Lloyd argued that the recent pronouncement by the British Prime Minister to sanction countries that refused to recognise the rights of the sexuality of some people is being overblown by the media.
But he stressed the importance of such countries conceding to people the right to belong to whatever sex group they chose instead of punishing them.
The bill must still be voted on by the House of Representatives and signed by President Goodluck Jonathan before it becomes law.
It spells out a 14-year jail term for anyone entering into same-sex marriage or civil union.
Those who abet or aid such unions could receive 10 years, as would "any person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organisations."
The bill also sets out a 10-year sentence for "any person who ... directly or indirectly makes public show of same-sex amorous relationships".
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