Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Nigeria, Peter Akinola, has said that gay marriage is “capable of engendering moral and social holocaust” and has called for those who attend gay weddings to be sentenced to a year in jail.

In a position paper submitted by the church to a Nigerian parliamentary committee which is planning a law against gay marriage, the Archbishop said: “Same sex marriage, apart from being ungodly, is unscriptural, unnatural, unprofitable, unhealthy, un-cultural, un-African and un-Nigerian. It is a perversion, a deviation and an aberration that is capable of engendering moral and social holocaust in this country.

“It is also capable of existincting [sic] mankind and as such should never be allowed to take root in Nigeria. Outlawing it is to ensure the continued existence of this nation. The need for doing this is urgent, compelling, and imperative.”

Homosexuality and gay marriage are already illegal in Nigeria but the new law proposes to punish gay couples who get married with five years in jail, while groups of witnesses may be sentenced to one year in jail.

Leo Igwe, executive director of the Nigerian Humanist movement, which has staunchly supported LGBT rights, said: “If ever a law were an incitement to hate, this is it, and here is Archbishop Akinola giving it his full backing. His support for this oppressive and homophobic bill must be strongly condemned.”

In February, Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs told a UN review of human rights in the African nation that there is no gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans community in the country.

Ojo Madueke said: “During our National Consultative Forum, we went out of our way to look for the gay, lesbian and transgender groups but we could not come across any Nigerian with such sexuality.

“If they are an amorphous group, then the question of violence against them does not arise let alone negotiating special rights for them.”