top of page

Nigerian Catholic Bishops Reject Pope's Same-Sex Policy

By Melanie Nathan, Jan 01, 2024


In response to the recent landmark ruling by the Vatican allowing priests to bless same-sex couples under certain circumstances, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria has affirmed that Catholic churches in the country will not bless same-sex unions.


This decision is based on their assertion that the blessing of same-sex unions contradicts God's law, the teachings of the church, and the laws of the country.


The Vatican's doctrinal office, approved by Pope Francis, clarified that such blessings do not legitimize irregular situations but rather serve as a sign that God welcomes all. The document emphasized a case-by-case approach, leaving the decision to priests.


The statement from the Nigerian Catholic Bishops underscores the divisions within the global Catholic community on issues related to same-sex unions. While the Vatican has taken steps towards inclusivity, regional interpretations and responses, such as those from the Nigerian bishops, continue to reflect diverse perspectives within the Catholic Church. Melanie Nathan of AHRC: This also underscores the fact that the Pope has failed to address issues of decriminalization in so many countries where the Church operates and serves. Under Nigerian Law it is a crime for an organization or individual to provide such blessing under the current SSMPA, as follows "Administering, aiding, or abetting, or even merely witnessing a same sex marriage or civil union. Under the law: “A person or group of persons who administers, witnesses, abets or aids the solemnization of a same sex marriage or civil union . . . in Nigeria commits an offense and is liable on conviction to a term of 10 years imprisonment.”


In addition to the older Penal Code, Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act was signed into law in Nigeria in 2014, further criminalizing of same-sex sexual relationships. As can be seen here is the extent of it -



The SSMPA criminalizes the following:

A. Entering into a same sex marriage or civil union. Under the law: “A person who enters into a same sex marriage contract or civil union commits an offense and is liable on conviction to a term of 14 years imprisonment.”


B. Living together with a same sex partner, even without marriage or a civil union. Under the law, “same sex marriage” is defined to mean: “the coming together of persons of the same sex with the purpose of living together as husband and wife or for other purposes of same sexual relationship.” Civil unions are defined, under the law, to include: “any arrangement between persons of the same sex to live together as sex partners,” including arrangements to live in a “caring partnership,” a “significant relationship,” or a “stable union. Accordingly, even if individuals do not enter into a formal marriage or civil union, by living together, whether as a couple or as roommates to save money, they can become subject to the criminal penalty of 14 years imprisonment.


C. Administering, aiding, or abetting, or even merely witnessing a same sex marriage or civil union. Under the law: “A person or group of persons who administers, witnesses, abets or aids the solemnization of a same sex marriage or civil union . . . in Nigeria commits an offense and is liable on conviction to a term of 10 years imprisonment.”


D. Registering, operating, or participating in a “gay” organization. Under the law: “A person who registers, operates, or participates in gay clubs, societies and organization . . . commits an offense and is liable on conviction to a term of 10 years imprisonment.”


E. Supporting the registration, operation, or sustenance of “gay” organizations, processions, or meetings. Under the law: “A person or group of persons who . . . supports the registration, operation and sustenance of gay clubs, societies, organizations, processions or meetings in Nigeria commits an offense and is liable on conviction to a term of 10 years imprisonment.”


See TV Interviews: Hosts: Osarogie Ogbonmwan and Olive Emodi

Guests:1. Rev Abraham Ogah, Vice President, Christian Association of Nigeria, Borno State, Nigeria2. Bishop James Wuye, Catholic Bishop, Kaduna State, Nigeria








bottom of page