A group of bishops in Nigeria have warned against equal marriage but say they “empathise with people who live with homosexual and gay tendencies”.

In a statement the bishops of the ecclesiastical province of Ibadan, which is located in south-west Nigeria, said: “We confirm that a family consists of a man, a woman and children.

“We empathise with people who live with homosexual and gay tendencies and call on society not to discriminate against them.

“We however firmly reject all attempts to enshrine these tendencies in the Nigerian Constitution and we appeal to every Nigerian to protect the traditional values of marriage and the family as a way of fostering a cohesive society.”

In July, the United Nations condemned Nigeria’s Parliament for passing a law that further criminalises homosexuality by punishing those who try to enter same-sex marriages.

Nigeria’s House of Representatives approved the bill in May.

The country’s President Goodluck Jonathan has so far not signed the bill into law.

Same-sex relationships are already illegal in Nigeria.