A Nigerian LGBT group says that a proposed draconian anti-gay law banning all expression of homosexuality may have stalled in the country’s lower house of parliament.

Changing Attitude, an Anglican LGBT group with offices in Nigeria and England, says that the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act 2006 – which was debated on 22 March by the Nigerian House of Representatives – could be abandoned if the Nigerian elections take place as scheduled.

“The present sitting of the House has finished, and they asked the panel of Human Rights which continues to meet, to go and review the bill again. It is difficult to say categorically that the current House has been totally suspended because a lot of manoeuvring is taking place ahead of the election. It may be reasonably safe to assume the bill has been abandoned for now”, says the organisation in a statement issued on Thursday.

Davis Mac-Iyalla, Director of Changing Attitude Nigeria, said “We are quietly confident and feeling more happy, but there is still the potential for lobbying in favour of the bill to take place by the Church of Nigeria and for the Government to spring a surprise. However, if the Church was confident about the success of the bill, we think they would be issuing a confident public statement now, which they are not.”

The organisation warns that it is theoretically possible for the next government to reintroduce the bill, although noting that this would be unlikely to happen in the first term when the government would attempt to fulfil its most urgent election promises.

“It remains a possibility that the bill could be reintroduced in the next government’s second term”, says Changing Attitude.

The European Parliament recently joined human and gay rights organisations across the world to call on Nigeria to abandon the controversial anti-gay law.

Under the bill, a penalty of five years imprisonment will be imposed on any person who “goes through the ceremony of marriage with a person of the same sex,” or who “performs, witnesses, aids or abets the ceremony of same sex marriage,” or who “is involved in the registration of gay clubs, societies and organisations, sustenance, procession or meetings, publicity and public show of same sex amorous relationship directly or indirectly in public and in private.”

Gay sex is already illegal in Nigeria, punishable by death in the Islamic northern part of the country.

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