Nigeria Passes Anti-Gay Bill

The Nigerian senate has passed a bill banning same-sex marriages, defying a threat from Britain to withhold aid from nations violating gay rights. The bill by Africa’s most populous nation calls for a 14-year sentence for anyone convicted of homosexuality. Anyone who aids or “abets” same-sex unions faces 10 years in prison, a provision that could target rights groups. It goes to the nation’s House of Representatives for a vote before President Goodluck Jonathan can sign it into law.

The bill passed Tuesday comes nearly a month after British Prime Minister, David Cameron, threatened to withhold aid from nations violating gays’ rights, sparking outrage in Africa where leaders interpreted it as “colonial” display of power. Homosexuality is illegal in most African countries based on remnants of sodomy laws introduced during the British colonial era and perpetuated by cultural beliefs. Punishments across the continent range from fines to years in prison.

Soon after his remarks earlier this month, a flurry of African governments released defiant statements accusing him of undermining their sovereignty and culture. Last week, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, known for his anti-gay rhetoric, called the prime minister “satanic” for demanding gay rights.

Cameron’s statements also sparked a fiery debate among Africans on social media, where opinions were divided. Others said while denying aid would be extreme; the continent has a long way to go when it comes to human rights.

Sexual violence against lesbians has become so common in South Africa; the nation has coined a new term “corrective rape” to describe it. South Africa — one of the more progressive nations in the continent on the issue — was the first African country to impose a constitutional ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation.


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G8 Summit in France Kicks off

President Obama arrived in France yesterday as part of his European tour, and also to meet with leaders at the G8 summit. Obama and the other leaders of the G8 are expected to talk about several global issues including the global economy, international oil prices, national security, and democratic uprisings that have been occurring in the Middle East. The leaders will also be discussing several current issues such as the World Bank, IMF and the UN secretary general.

The summit will take place in the resort town of Deauville, France, and President Nicolas Sarkozy met world leaders there to start two days worth of working sessions and meetings. Obama is expected to represent issues regarding the uprising in the Middle East, although France and Britain has been leading the NATO march against Libya. Democratic protests in Egypt and Tunisia will also be discussed and Prime Ministers from both countries will be present with the leaders at the summit.

The global economy is also going to be one of the main topics in the summit, but there will be many other significant topics such as the conflict in Libya amid the Arab Spring, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, nuclear issues with several countries, and several other national security concerns. The summit is expected to address several of these issues.

President Obama’s first day in France began with a meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and the two discussed the issue of the United States’ plans to set up a missile defense shield in the Central and Eastern European region. The White House has stated that one of its foreign policy objectives was to “reset” the relationship between Russia and the United States and getting nuclear arms deal with Medvedev was essential.

President Obama stated that his relationship with President Medvedev was “outstanding” and Medvedev agreed, saying that the relationship between the two countries had improved since the nuclear arms deal or the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, otherwise known as the START treaty ratification.  The treaty was first established in 1994 by previous presidents George H. Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev.

President Obama will also attend a bilateral meeting with Japan’s Prime Minister Kan. White House officials have said that the meeting with Kan will be about the earthquake and tsunami recovery, concerns with the nuclear security problems and their roles in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The summit will end with a meeting with the nine leaders of African countries, about ongoing topic of the G8 of developing that region.