United Nations chief alarmed by Nigeria’s new anti-gay law

Ban Ki-moon Staff Reports

APBan Ki-moon

Ban Ki-moon

UNITED NATIONS — U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says he is alarmed by reports of the arrest and torture of individuals in northern Nigeria believed to be homosexual and strongly hopes that the constitutionality of the country’s new anti-gay law will be reviewed.

The U.N. chief stressed that under the U.N. Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights every person is entitled “to enjoy the same basic rights and live a life of worth and dignity without discrimination,” spokesman Martin Nesirky said Wednesday.

The secretary-general is offering U.N. assistance to promote a dialogue and change the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, Nesirky said.

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The Nigerian law, signed on Jan. 7 by President Goodluck Jonathan, provides bans same-sex marriage and outlaws anyone from forming organizations supporting gay rights.

Under the bill, anyone suspected of being gay, whether they or not they have had a same-sex encounter, could be in violation of the law.

The bill punishes anyone attempting to instigate a same-sex marriage or civil union by 14 years imprisonment, and outlaws “gay clubs, societies and organizations, their sustenance, processions and meetings,” or anyone who helps them, imposing jail time of up to 10 years for offenders.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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