Lawmakers Pressed Same-Sex Marriage Issue with Visiting Nigerian President

An adviser to Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said lawmakers pressed the African leader about same-sex marriage on his visit to Washington this week, but he apparently quickly shut them down.

Then-President Goodluck Jonathan signed a ban against gay marriage last year that prohibits civil or church same-sex unions, the recognition of any such unions conducted in foreign countries, the registration of "gay clubs" and public displays of affection between gay couples.

One Nigerian group against gay marriage staged a rally after Buhari left for D.C., with an activist telling Nigeria's The Guardian that "the fear is being entertained that Obama might trade off U.S. assistance to Buhari’s government with shooting down Jonathan’s anti-gay law."

Ty Cobb, director of the Human Rights Campaign Global, asserted that “while some news sources have reported that the United States and LGBT advocates are calling for same-sex marriage in Nigeria, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

“The community is calling for human rights to be one of the pillars of discussions between President Obama and President Buhari," Cobb said last week. "There is much that can be done to improve the human rights situation of all Nigerians, including LGBT people who face well-documented violence, arbitrary detentions, harassment and discrimination.”

"The issue of gay marriage came up here yesterday. [President Muhammadu Buhari] was point blank. Sodomy is against the law in Nigeria, and abhorrent to our culture," Buhari's Special Adviser on Media and Publicity Femi Adesina tweeted today.

"The same sex marriage issue came up at the joint session of Senate and House Committees on Foreign Affairs, not in direct talks with Obama," Adesina added. "Talks shifted to another matter once PMB emphatically stated Nigeria's stand on same sex marriage. The issue was not pushed."

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) said the Tuesday meeting was "productive."

"We discussed Nigeria’s largely peaceful embrace of the democratic process in its most recent elections. We share the hopes of many Nigerians that the president delivers his campaign pledges of rooting out corruption and spurring much-needed economic growth," Royce said. "We had an extensive discussion with President Buhari on support to Nigeria and other partner nations in its fight against Boko Haram. We shared ideas on how the Congress can be helpful to the Nigerian military’s struggle against Boko Haram, in particular ensuring that onerous security assistance vetting is not an obstacle to greater U.S.-Nigeria cooperation.”

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Ben Cardin (D-Md.) said they discussed, among other things, "increasing collaboration as Nigeria takes steps to ensure civil and human rights for all Nigerians."

“No meeting with the leadership of Nigeria could ignore the plight of hundreds of schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram," Cardin said. "Any of the girls who are still alive must be returned home and the fate of all of those taken must be made known. How a country treats its women and girls is a strong barometer for its economic and social success. I urged President Buhari to make human rights of all Nigeria’s citizens a priority.”