The Criminalization of Same Sex Marriage

by Chinyere Ugomma Eze-Nliam

“The Law is reason free from passion”: Aristotle

I wish to clarify my take on this issue lest I be misconstrued as supporting gay marriage. Firstly, I am a full blooded Igbo woman and a Christian and as such my culture and religion forbid same sex marriage. I am a product of a relationship between a man and a woman, my bible tells me that in the beginning, God make Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. However these are my personal beliefs and opinion.

Secondly, I do not approach this issue from a human rights point of view but specifically based on the letter and spirit of the law. My problem is not that this is a violation of gay rights but that judging from comments made by the senators during the debate; this bill was passed based on religiously induced concept of morality. We do not operate a theocracy where the government functions on religious principles. We have a limited government, limited by the constitution which expressly forbids such. It is immaterial that Christianity, Islam and traditional religion do not endorse such acts. If that is the case why don’t they also criminalize adultery which is also frowned upon by these three religions? Why the selective prosecution? I hope no one complains when Muslims start taking 10 yr old brides because their religion allows it, or traditionalists insisting on carrying out human sacrifices because its part and parcel of their mode of worship. My point being that whether or not a particular religion(s) condone or forbid an act should not form the basis of formulating a law. Doing so would indeed create an extremely dangerous precedent especially in a multi religious society like ours where religious intolerance already holds sway. Law making should be objective based on logic, not driven by emotions and desires.

Thirdly, it is apparent also judging from comments, that the huge support garnered by this bill is a result of the British’s unchecked outburst about withholding aid from countries that fail to support gays. The audacity of London to curb the sovereignty of a nation by imposition of their beliefs should be taken apart and considered separately from the issue at hand which i reiterate, is the legality of passing religious laws under the guise of legislative law making. It is obvious that the precipitation of passing the bill is intended to be a “middle finger” at the face of the British. David Mark while responding brilliantly (for which i applaud him) should have utilised the opportunity to revisit our marriage laws. If he had done so, he would have noticed that there is no clear cut definition of parties to a marriage. That should have the first port of call. Redefining a marriage union as one between a man and woman renders same sex marriage automatically null and void. Instead of passing new inconsequential laws, repeal and supplement existing laws as is deemed fit which brings me to the next issue.

Fourthly, there are other much more serious issues as far as sexual offenses are concerned. Rape (especially statutory rape), incest and paedophilia need tougher laws and stiffer penalties. I just read of a man who was given 14 yrs in prison for impregnating his 12 yr old daughter. This should have been life imprisonment with extremely hard labour considering the aggravating factors involved (Incest, statutory rape, paedophilia). All those politicians and their ilk sleeping with their granddaughters’ mates should all be hauled in one after the other. Senator Yerima goes home every night to a 13 yr old. Yet they are eager to make laws criminalizing an act between two consenting adults. The hypocrisy is simply mindboggling. There is a saying in my language, “The person whose house is on fire should not be chasing rat”. The passage of this bill is intended to distract our minds from more serious issues of Boko haram, corruption, government ineptitude and all the ailments that have befallen this historical contraption we call Nigeria. These people have looted, pilfered and plundered our collective wealth. Let us not allow them to meddle with and atrophy our intellect as well.

Finally, for those who support this based on Christian teachings, ask yourselves, “WWJD”? (What would Jesus do?) I suggest a trip down biblical lane precisely John 8: 7. So by all means go ahead and stone them but let he has no sin cast the first stone.

I rest my case.

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