ON NIGERIA’S SAME SEX MARRIAGE PROHIBITION BILL

There are ongoing legislative attempts in Nigeria and Uganda to further restrict sexuality rights. There is a clamour for the removal and also the strengthening of sodomy laws inherited by Commonwealth countries in Africa. However, the call for sexuality rights in Africa by the international community is seen as another colonial invasion by many Africans.

Research on sexuality rights is a relatively new developing area in Africa. There is a strong coalition spreading across Africa by Africans advocating for sexuality rights and claiming it as not just any right but as fundamental human rights.BookCoverImage new vista

Sexuality rights remain a silent but controversial issue in many parts of Africa; it is not just a controversial issue but also a taboo subject. One of the most efficient ways patriarchy uses sexuality as a tool to create and sustain gender hierarchy in African societies is by enshrouding it in secrecy and taboos.

Many countries in Africa still criminalize homosexuality; sodomy laws are still part of the criminal laws thereby making it ‘legally’ possible to persecute people with different sexual orientation, for example Zimbabwe, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Tanzania and Ghana all have laws under which homosexuality can be prosecuted. In South Africa, where the constitution recognizes same sex relationships, gays and lesbians are often attacked, molested and persecuted for their sexual orientation.

Many African societies do not provide enabling environments to discuss sexual orientation issues. Homosexuality has been condemned by many African leaders as immoral, unafrican and a ‘white man’s disease’.

Africa is a large continent with diverse cultures and ethnicities, however homophobia fueled by religious intolerance and oppressive laws are remarkably similar issues many have in common. It seems however that black homophobia has replaced white racism as the newest form of intolerance to sweep across the African continent. This is not to imply that homophobia is a ‘black African’ phenomenon. In conservative societies including western societies, any challenge to heterosexual norms always provokes moral condemnation, exclusion and violence.

Should women have equal rights as men? Should blacks have equal rights as whites? Are Israelites and Palestinians equal? Some of these questions have been settled through wars, protests and various human rights treaties, in fact it is considered politically incorrect to ask such questions! I wonder why it is not considered politically incorrect to ask if Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals or Transsexuals have equal rights as heterosexuals.

If we are agreed that no one should be discriminated against, why are we still debating if Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transsexuals are entitled to Human Rights? Last time I checked LGBTs are people too!

Well, debate is good because in some countries like Nigeria, many are yet to be convinced that Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transsexuals are actually human beings!

Following failed attempts in 2006 and 2008, Nigerian lawmakers are resurrecting a version of a widely condemned anti-homosexuality bill. Nigerian Lawmakers in a bid to rally popular support needed a scapegoat and the LGBT community provides an easy target!

The lawmakers decided once again to come in a ‘Straight’ mass orgy of corruption to bully the gay minority; a cause always guaranteed to provide the otherwise unpopular lawmakers, cheap, majority support! When will they stop discussing who is sleeping with whom and start making laws to move this underdeveloped, oil rich nation forward?

The bill aims to further criminalize same sex relationship and marriage. Under Nigeria’s criminal code and penal code, consensual same sex conduct between adults is already a criminal offense. Homosexuality carries a sentence of fourteen years imprisonment under the criminal code while Sharia law, widely practiced in Northern Nigeria, prescribed death penalty for homosexual conducts.

SDC15091 Some of Nigerian lawmakers’ arguments against same sex relationship are outright ridiculous if not pathetic! I still can’t believe Senator Yerima, an old, polygamous man who imported from Egypt to Nigeria, the 14 year old daughter of his Egyptian gardener for marriage, actually voted to send SAME SEX ADULTS who engage in CONSENSUAL relationships to prison for 14 years!  Senator Yerima who has a known history of marrying child brides, along with other lawmakers claimed that homosexuality leads to pedophilia! It is indeed like a badly written Nollywood script; no surprise.

The sponsor of the bill, Senator Domingo Obende, argued that “Same sex marriage is spreading and spreading round the whole world just like pornography and terrorism which has become the order of the day if not arrested on time.”

Senator Victor Lar in his argument stated:  “The essence of marriage is for procreation and if we allow same sex there will be no procreation and continuity and we may become the last set of senators and no others to take over from us.”  Even with 7 billion world population? Gimme a break!

Honourable Abike Dabiri, a member of the Nigeria Federal House of Representatives said “You have a right to your sexual preference but by trying to turn it into marriage do you realise you could be infringing on the human rights of the other person who finds it repulsive?”

Hmm, I find that funny considering that Abike Dabiri divorced her first husband to marry her current husband; did she not know that many Nigerians find divorce repulsive? Should we then criminalized divorce? Going by her argument, she has infringed on the human rights of majority of Nigerians who think divorce is repulsive.

Seriously, how do people come up with such bollocks!

In a statement signed by the chief press secretary to the senate president, Paul Mumeh, Mr Mark noted that besides banning same sex marriage, it is now a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment of not less than 14 years. The senate president said that in spite of pressures from some quarters, the law has come to stay. He further said the government has to prove to the rest of the world, who are advocates of same sex marriage that Nigerians promote and respect sanity, morality and humanity.”

Wait a minute, Nigerians promote and respect Sanity, Morality and Humanity? Sounds like news to me, more like Nigerians promote insanity, immorality and inhumanity and excel at ignorance, now that wouldn’t be news. I can’t help but laugh at the irony in this statement! Really how could the Senate President David Mark use the words, Sanity, Morality and Humanity in the same sentence in public without peeing himself? Abeg, David Mark you’ve looted enough money to get a brain transplant, go book a surgery or grow a brain!

Homosexuality is UnAfrican and a western imposition? How so? Foreign impositions include Christianity, Islam, Christmas, Ileya, Easter, Sodomy law and Homophobia, certainly not Homosexuality.

Sodomy law is a colonial legacy, a relic from the colonisation of Nigeria by Britain.  Britain has repealed the law in its homeland,  but some of its ex colonies in Africa still cling to this barbaric law and use it to persecute LGBTs. Britain also has a moral obligation to clean up its leftover mess and start accepting LGBT asylum seekers without whining!

LGBTI rights are human rights. Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transsexuals are humans and are therefore entitled to ALL Human Rights; let no politician, religious leader or any bigot tell us otherwise!

Why support this draconian bill against Nigerian Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transsexuals? Why take away another person’s right when you do not want your right trampled upon?

The fact that majority stands on the same side of an issue does not mean majority is always right. Sometimes it is just a case of fools standing on the same popular side as in the case of criminalization of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transsexuals on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Giving someone else equal rights does not infringe or take away rights from you; it just makes it illegal to enforce your prejudice and   hate. It is that simple!

Those of us who believe in equal rights and justice for all will keep on fighting for human rights for all; it does not matter whether we are a majority or a minority because lgbt rights are human rights and that is the beauty of democracy.

N.B- Don’t forget to order your copy of my book ‘Freedom To Love For ALL: Homosexuality is not Un-African’.  It is available on Amazon in Paperback and kindle edition.

 

Comments

  1. Tobe says

    I enjoyed reading this article. I am a radio presenter in Nigeria and would like to have an interview with you, on various issues that have cropped up in Nigeria. Yemmy. kindly reach me via email. Thank you.

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