Nigerian Justice Minister Mohammed Adoke has described a law banning same-sex marriage and further criminalising homosexuality in the country as a “win-win situation,” saying it protects gay people from mob violence.

Following calls from UN human rights chief Navi Pillay for the law to be suspended, the Attorney General responded recently saying that gay rights issues do not fall in line with Nigerian religious and cultural values.

According to This Day Live he said: “Some of the issues that you raised are on the issue of same-sex marriage. We do not want it. It is not that we don’t have the laws against same-sex marriage. We have it in the common law, in Sharia law and customary law.

“Therefore, I think when you look at the culture of our people, 99 per cent will not accept the same-sex marriage. It is a reality.”

He added: “The government had to step in with punitive measures so as to prevent citizens from taking laws into their hands. So it is a win-win situation.”

Ms Pillay, who is in Nigeria this week, also addressed concerns about the effect the law could have on the spread of HIV.

She said she understood that Nigerians found the issue of same-sex marriage difficult, but emphasised that Nigeria did not have to violate people’s human rights as a response.

She added: “This law violates a host of fundamental human rights, including the right to freedom from discrimination, to privacy, freedom of association, peaceful assembly, opinion and expression and equality before the law – all of which are enshrined in Uganda’s own Constitution and in the international treaties it has ratified.”

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has also said he is “seriously concerned” by the President of Uganda’s decision to sign anti-gay legislation and fears it could generate fresh homophobic violence.