Several religious leaders in Africa pushed this weekend for Nigeria to keep its hard-line stance on gay marriage, despite the United States Supreme Court's recent decision to legalize it. Among the most vocal was Timothy Opoola, chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, who condemned the Friday ruling, calling it evil and "against God's purpose," All Africa reported.
"It is unfortunate that America -- that calls itself God's own country -- is now going against the will of God," said Opoola, also a math professor at the University of Ilorin. "It has been debated in Nigeria before, and the stance of the country is still the best that we should never allow gay marriage. We should never allow lesbianism. We should never allow anything that is evil."
Nigeria has notoriously strict rules against homosexuality. In 2014, then-President Goodluck Jonathan signed a law authorizing prison sentences of up to 14 years for people in same-sex unions and 10 years for any "person or group of persons who supports the registration, operation and sustenance of gay clubs, societies, organizations, processions or meetings," the Washington Post reported. The introduction of the law last January led to dozens of arrests and allegations of torture as well as a denunciation by the United Nations.
The Rev. Nicholas Okoh, archbishop of Abuja and Primate of the Church of Nigeria, said Sunday that Nigerians should not support gay marriage because it contradicts God's plans. He added that marriage should be between one man and one woman, and "those who are treading that path of same-sex marriage are treading the path of a dead end," the Guardian reported.
Christian leaders aren't the only ones who spoke out against the U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Alhaji Ibrahim Abdullahi, Secretary General of Islamic Missionaries Association of Nigeria, told All Africa that same-sex marriage was immoral and should be condemned worldwide. "If America now sees itself as a nation that can do whatever it likes without putting into consideration the moral aspect of that action, then it is really sad," he added.