Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Olugbenga Ashiru, has rejected claims that he’d previously said gay diplomats and their same-sex spouses would be accepted in the country if posted there on assignment.

Last week, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported Mr Ashiru as saying: “But if we have diplomats with same-sex spouses posted to Nigeria, we have no choice but to accredit them accordingly because they come from countries where such law is in place.”

In a statement on Sunday, Nigeria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Mr Ashiru had not made any comments regarding gay diplomats.

“The attention of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been drawn to stories on gay rights issues and Nigeria’s position on the matter,” it said.

“At his meeting with the diplomatic community on Friday July 19, the Foreign Affairs Minister, in his statement read to the meeting, where journalists and media executives were present, said foreign countries should not impose their values on Nigeria.

“While Nigeria is not against any country legalising gay marriages, no country should force that on Nigeria. Nigeria and majority of Nigerians are against gay rights and marriages, as they are not part of our customs, religion or law. At no time did the minister make reference to gay diplomats in his statement or interview.”

Same-sex sexual relationships are illegal and a bill to further criminalise same-sex marriages in Nigeria, with prison terms of up to 14 years, was passed by lawmakers in the country’s Parliament in May.

President Goodluck Jonathan has so far avoided signing the bill into law.