He may be taking his time appointing a cabinet, but Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari has his mind made up on one thing: gay marriage is not in the cards for Nigeria.
Buhari sat down with US president Barack Obama at the White House on Monday (July 20), as part of a four-day visit to the United States. And according to a tweet by Femi Adesina, Buhari’s Special Advisor on Media and Publicity, the issue of gay marriage came up during one of Buhari’s meetings in the US yesterday (July 21) and he was adamant that “[s]odomy is against the law in Nigeria, and abhorrent to our culture.”
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US assistant secretary of state for African affairs—widely considered to be the US’s top African diplomat—told journalists last week that gay rights would be on the agenda for Buhari’s visit. Thomas-Greenfield said that the US would continue pressure Nigeria to legalize gay marriage, and to convince the country to repeal legislation discriminating against the LGBTI community.
Buhari’s meeting with Obama is widely heralded as a first step towards mending US-Nigerian ties, after relations soured during the tenure of his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan.
In 2014, Jonathan pushed through the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, which has effectively banned gay marriage in Nigeria, and has criminalized public displays of affection by gay couples. The act also imposes harsh penalties on any organizations advocating for gay rights: violators can be imprisoned for up to 14 years.