Banning same-sex marriage in Nigeria was in the “national interest”, a senior politician claims.

Senate Majority Leader Victor Ndoma-Egba has defended last December’s decision of Nigeria’s Parliament to pass the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act.

Speaking in Abuja on Tuesday, Mr Ndoma-Egba said: “Most jurisdictions criminalise sodomy let alone same-sex marriage. However, the issue of same-sex marriage has elicited much discourse and concern in recent past.

“Polls in various countries show that there is rising support for legally recognising same-sex marriage across race, ethnicity, age religion, political affiliation and socio-economic status.”

He added: “The Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act is relevant because Nigeria is already battling with so many social vices-teenage pregnancies, child abandonment child prostitution, human trafficking, corruption, kidnapping, insurgency and other forms of criminal activities which all started as insignificant criminal activity but has today become monsters threatening our very existence.”

The law means gay couples entering into either marriage or cohabitation can face 14 years each in prison.

Along with banning same-sex marriages, the act further criminalises same-sex sexual activity and public displays of LGBT expression, banning LGBT groups and Pride events.

It was signed into law by President Goodluck Jonathan in January.