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James Brown, Bobrisky, and others jubilate as a bill to ban cross-dressing suffers setback

James Brown, Bobrisky, Jay Boogie and other Nigerian cross-dressers after it was reported that attempts to outlaw cross-dressing in Nigeria have temporarily suffered a setback.

In April, a bill was passed to prohibit cross-dressing in Nigeria with the exemption of those using it for entertainment.

The bill seeks to amend the same-sex marriage (prohibition) act of 2013 by including cross-dressing as one of the offences under the act. 

With this proposed law, crossdressers now risk 6 months in prison if passed.

In a recent development, the Deputy Speaker, Idris Wase, demanded that the bill’s sponsor, Muda Lawal, withdraw the measure because his justification was insufficient.

Former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan signed the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill (SSMPA) into law on January 7, 2014. The SSMPA’s stated goal is to forbid marriages between people who share the same sex. Its reach is actually considerably wider. The law bars any same-sex sexual partners from living together and forbids the “public display of same-sex romantic relationship.”

Anyone who “registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, groups and organizations” or “supports” the operations of such organizations faces a 10-year prison sentence under the SSMPA. Penalties are harsh and can include 10 to 14 years in prison. While the criminal and penal codes from the colonial era forbade homosexual acts between people of the same sex, the SSMPA effectively criminalizes lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. Such provisions build on existing law in Nigeria but go much further.

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