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Nigeria Poised to Pass 'Jail the Gays' Bill

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A draconian bill was introduced in Nigeria's Assembly that would ultimately jail Nigeria's gay citizens and anyone who supported them if it becomes law. All Out joined Nigeria's lesbians, gays, and allies by calling upon Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan to veto the bill should it pass its final reading in the Assembly this month.

The bill would make it a crime for gays and lesbians to get married, to witness a gay marriage, or for an affirming churches to perform a gay wedding. Gays and lesbians who marry will face 14 years in prison.

Any public displays of affection, such as holding hands, or even looking at each other affectionately could result in a 10-year jail sentence.

Whether the participant is gay or straight, anyone who organizes or becomes a member of a "gay club" or supports a gay organization financially could also face jail time.

Oliver Anene, Coordinator of the Initiative for Improved Male Health states:

The spread of HIV in the country is fueled by the growing stigma and discrimination of people, and a legislation as this will only make it more difficult to provide services to our highly productive youth burdened by the epidemic, irrespective of sexual orientation or gender identity. We humbly implore our law makers to really consider the long term consequences of this bill on the social security of our youth.

The Executive Director of International Center for Advocacy on Right to Health (ICARH) Mr. Ifeanyi Orazulike stated that "The bill will further drive the populations of sexual minority targeted by civil society organizations with HIV/AIDS prevention and intervention programs underground, with grave consequences on public health." He added that "HIV/AIDS does not respect any culture, religion, race or political opinion."

"The 'Jail the Gays' bill is an attack on not only gays and lesbians, but on straight Nigerians," said Andre Banks, the Executive Director and co-founder of All Out, the world's largest global LGBT organization. "Basic freedoms like the freedom to assemble, the freedom to worship as one chooses, and the freedom to love are under attack by the Nigerian government. No one is safe from this dangerous bill -- it is a distraction from real problems and must be stopped."

Last year Nigeria's Senate passed a similar bill, but after 65,000 All Out members joined Nigeria's fair-minded citizens by calling for an end of the bill, it did not move forward.

All Out has launched a new online campaign in coordination with Nigerian citizens who are fighting to stop the "Jail the Gays" bill once again. All Out members from around the world are supporting Nigerian citizens in calling upon Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan to veto the bill.

To sign All Out's petition visit http://www.allout.org/nigeria-veto.