The US Government has denied that it is to withdraw financial aid to Nigeria towards fighting HIV and AIDS amid the fallout from the recently introduced anti-gay law, but has said it will ensure its funding is not in violation of the law.
The US Ambassador to Nigeria James Entwistle, made the announcement on visiting the chair of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Professor Attahiru Jega, at the organisation’s headquarters on Monday.
Speaking to journalists who asked about aid given to support programs to tackle HIV and AIDS, he denied the US would withdraw its funding.
He said: “Absolutely not! But we have to look at it very carefully and make sure that everything we do is in compliance with the new law.
“As you know, we put millions of dollars in the fight against HIV/AIDS. And again, I am not a lawyer; I read the law and it seems to me that it may put some restrictions on what we can do to help fight HIV/AIDS in this country. These are the issues we are looking at as we look at the law,” he continued.
Discussing the situation in the US, he said: “The issue of same sex marriage is very controversial all over the world, including my country where 17 states out of 50 have considered it. Some are saying it is not legal.”
The British Government last week defended decisions to increase aid to the country despite the law, telling PinkNews that the country’s government does not actually receive any of the money, and instead it goes directly to contractors and organisations there.
Under the terms of the new Nigerian law, anyone who enters into a same-sex marriage or civil union may be jailed for up to 14 years, and all such unions entered into abroad are made “void”.
It also bans people who register, operate or participate in gay clubs, societies or organisations, or who publicly show that they are in a same-sex relationship will be punishable with up to ten years in prison – this includes couples holding hands.
“Only a marriage contract between a man and a woman shall be recognised as valid in Nigeria,” the law states.