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Sep 07 2013

Reactions to my recent interview make me wonder: Do Nigerians Hate Atheists more than Gays?

DSC_0961I already know that many Nigerian Christians are really stupid; I just wish I could get over the severity of their stupidity and the glee with which they display it. My recent interview  in a National Nigerian Newspaper, TELL Magazine,  has given them an opportunity to display their ignorance, bigotry and delusion on various Naija blogs that shared the interview.

Reading the various comments many Nigerians left on this blog and this blog, amongst many others that reblogged the interview,  has left me wondering if Nigerians hate Atheists more than gays!

Warning, if you are likely to want to gouge your eyes out when you read homophobic, ignorant comments, I’d advice you steer clear of the comment sections on these blogs.

Unfortunately, these religious believers and die-hard homophobes are not content with displaying their Homophobia, Biphobia, Transphobia and God delusions on the comment sections of these blogs. They are also very keen to share it with me on my facebook inbox and wall.

  • Many Nigerian religious believers are stupid enough to think invoking the wrath of their Skydaddy on me is scary.
  • They are bigoted enough to insist on sharing their imaginary God with me.
  • They bombard my inbox with silly scriptural verses as if quoting from their bible or Quran somehow m599780_10151137996406873_6890324_nakes their God real. In that case Batman is as real as their God; after all I can quote from Batman series.
  • Nigerian Christians throw tantrums because I do not wish to play with their imaginary Holy Trinity friends; God, Jesus and Holy Ghost. How very childish!

And to crown their stupidity, they leave ignorant, bigoted, hateful comments on my posts and interviews and then go ahead to request that I add them as friends on Facebook! Really, how much more stupid can they get! I bet like Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo did to Ese Walters, these bigoted religious homophobes want to show me a level of grace I cannot comprehend. ROTFLMAO!

My wall is not a hangout for Homophobes, Biphobes, Transphobes or adults who insist on sharing their Skydaddy with me. I am highly allergic to ignorance; therefore I do not accept friendship requests from deluded hate filled beings. My FB wall is set to public, people are free to enjoy the posts and get enlightened but they should know that leaving homophobic, biphobic or transphobic comment or proselytizing on my wall will get their ignorant ass blocked.

Below is the original interview as it appears on Tell Magazine. Enjoy it!

Yemisi ilesanmiBeing Gay Is Natural – Yemisi Ilesanmi

She is the second child in a family of seven (six girls and a boy). In fact, Yemisi Ilesanmi was born in Lagos to a normal middle class family. However, by her late 20s she said she had come to the realization that she was bisexual, meaning she was sexually attracted to both men and women. Today, she is the coordinator of the Nigerian Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual, LGBT community and has travelled extensively as guest speaker to promote gender and youth issues, sexuality rights, human rights and labour rights. Little wonder her debut book is titled, “Freedom to Love for All: Homosexuality Is not Un-African.” Before relocating to the UK where she studied for a Masters of Law (LL.M) degree in Gender, Sexuality and Human Rights, Ilesanmi had worked with the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC. In this interview with Tundun Adeyemo, Special Correspondent, she talks about her sexual orientation, how her family has handled it and why LGBTs should be treated with respect and not criminalised for reasons of their sexual preferences. Excerpts:

 

In terms of educating the Nigerian populace about gays, lesbian, bisexual rights, what are the core foundational facts Nigerians need to know about the science of homosexuality?

The very first thing we need to understand is that homosexuality, bisexuality, asexuality are all as natural as heterosexuality. Our sexual orientation differs; we are born with an innate ability to be emotionally or sexually attracted or not be sexually or emotionally attracted to same sex or opposite sex. Unfortunately, many African societies do not provide enabling environments to discuss sexual orientation. Sexual orientation does not harm anyone. A person who is attracted to opposite sex does not harm anyone so far it is a consensual adult relationship. A homosexual who is attracted to the same sex does not harm anybody so far it is a consensual adult relationship. A Bisexual or Pansexual who can be attracted to all sexes harms no one so far it is an adult consensual relationship. Even an Asexual who is not sexually attracted to any gender harms no one. We are all different, and non-harmful lifestyle of adults should not be criminalised. It is like criminalising a left-handed person for being born left-handed, or criminalising a girl for being born a girl. Also we must recognise that even if you claimed that homosexuality or bisexuality is a choice, you are also saying heterosexuality is a choice. Which means, somehow you woke up and decided, well, I am going to be a heterosexual. Well, I do not ever recollect a day I chose to be bisexual, neither has any heterosexual confessed that they remember the day they chose to only be attracted to opposite sex. However, even if our sexual orientation is a choice, then we must recognise that adults have the right to choose who they want to have a romantic, emotional or sexual relationship with. If you have the right to choose to be in an emotional or sexual relationship with an adult of opposite sex, then it stands to reason that others also have the right to choose to be in an emotional or sexual relationship with a same sex adult partner.

 

Do you really think Nigerians would ever accept that LGBT rights are human rights? Most people in Nigeria view homosexuality as a sin.

Whether Nigerians accept it or not, LGBT rights are recognised human rights. Unless, you can prove that Lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals are not human beings, well, you have no reason to deny them their fundamental human rights. Unfortunately many Nigerians believe in the concept of sin. First, we must understand that sin is a religious concept. Not every Nigerian is religious. Your religion is also a personal matter, why drag other people into your personal relationship with Jesus, Mohamed or Obatala? When I am told that homosexuality is a sin, I just tell them their religion is not my law. The Bible or Quran is not my constitution, so why is that even coming up? It is absurd when Christian gay bashers gleefully quote Leviticus 18:22 to justify why they want to jail and stone gays. Anyone who wants to quote from Leviticus should at least read the book to make sure they are not guilty of any of the things condemned in the book.  Leviticus also says you should not shave, you should not interact with a woman in her menstrual cycle, thou shall not eat shrimps or shell fish, Lev. 11:10,11:6-8 thou shall not touch the skin of a dead pig (therefore touching football without wearing gloves makes you unclean!) Lev.19: 19 – thou shall not plant two different crops in the same field, thou shall not wear garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). Thou shall gather the whole town together to stone those who curse or blaspheme, Lev.24: 10-16. So, when Christians throw Leviticus at me, I simply throw Leviticus right back in their face. And I watch pitifully as they try to explain how one verse has different interpretation but the one they want to defend means exactly what is written. If you use Leviticus as a reason to stone gays and you wear clothes made of blended fabrics as most clothes are, work on the Sabbath day, eat shrimp, you are a hypocrite.

 

What more do you think the Nigerian government could do to aid tolerance of the LGBT community and where do you think the anti gay legislation will take Nigeria in about 5 to 10 years?

The government must decriminalise homosexuality, bisexuality or any other sexual orientation or gender identity. The government must educate its citizens on sexual orientation. People must understand that we are different but equal. There is no harm in diversity, and people who are different from us are not automatically evil! The Nigerian ‘Jail the gays’ bill if signed into law would definitely worsen the plight of Nigerian Lesbians, gays, bisexuals and Transsexuals. The law will lead to a clampdown on human rights that will not only affect Lesbian, gays, bisexuals and Trans, but also every Nigerian. Politicians will accuse their opponents of being gay, landlord will accuse their tenants of homosexuality, NGOs who oppose the government in power will be accused of advocating for LGBT rights, an offence which is punishable with 10 years imprisonment under the bill. There will be blatant abuses of fundamental human rights, like freedom of expression, freedom of association, right to privacy. Many will be blackmailed or even lynched based on mere suspicion of homosexuality. This is already happening in Nigeria without the law. With the law, it will be a haven for those who want to blackmail gays, stone or burn them to death. This is a Nigeria I hope to never see, but which unfortunately, we are heading towards.

 

How has your immediate family and friends reacted to your sexual orientation and the publicity you attract?

What makes a family is love, tolerance and acceptance. Anyone who shows me love and welcomes me into their heart is my family. Love is one thing that is thicker than blood.  My immediate family knows my sexual orientation, my father is late, and my mother is accepting of whom I am and has shown me love and support. To continue to be an important part of my life, you cannot be homophobic, biphobic or transphobic.  You cannot wish others be beaten, imprisoned or stoned to death just because of whom they love. I will never proudly call anyone with such a mindset my family member.

 

Is your atheism connected to your bisexuality and what role does religion play in aggravating homophobic sentiments?

My atheism has nothing to do with my bisexuality. Atheism is simply a non-belief in God. My bisexuality is my sexual orientation, no connection. However, I must say, my atheism has helped me to stand up against religious bullies, who use the bible and the Quran to justify their hate for gays, lesbians, transsexual and bisexuals. Religion carries a lot of unwarranted weight in Nigeria and Africa generally. This should not be so. In fact, this is one reason the African continent is still very backward. When religion carried so much weight in Europe during middle Ages, it was wrought with wars, jihads, killings and ethnic cleansings. Religion is the main ground that proponents of the ‘Jail the Gays’ bill are using to support the bill. Catholics and Anglicans who attended the public hearing of the bill at the National Assembly even threatened to beat up the few LGBT rights supporters at the hearing! Some religious leaders argue that homosexuality is un-African and a western imposition; how so? Logic points to the fact that foreign impositions in Nigeria include Christianity and Islam and religious festivals like Christmas, Ileya and Easter. It is quite incongruous that those that are quick to embrace foreign religions are also the ones that are quick to condemn homosexuality on the trump up charge of ‘un-African’. Africans now defend the same holy books that were used to justify the slavery, exploitations and indignities suffered by their ancestors. Many religious Africans now use the ‘holy’ books to justify the oppression of members of their own society. Even when the original owners of the religion inform them that the book has been updated and some parts are no longer applicable, Africans still insist that it is must be applicable because it says so in the book they were given. How pathetic!

 

In a previous interview you had insisted that evangelical Christians and Muslims incite hatred for homosexuality, would a return to the traditional religion offer a breath of fresh air?

As I said in my book, Freedom To Love For All: Homosexuality is Not Un-African. Unfortunately, neo-colonialism and mental slavery continue in Africa through the heavy influence of evangelical missionaries who, having lost ground in their western countries to equality rights Acts, have now invaded African churches and are inciting members against homosexuals. Sadly, this nation is held spellbound by political and religious leaders who are averse to education and scientific knowledge.

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15 comments

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  1. 1
    left0ver1under

    Do Nigerians hate atheists more than gays?

    Or to ask it another way, is Nigeria to Africa as Indonesia is to Asia?

    Indonesia has six “approved” religions, and if a person doesn’t belong to one of them (atheist or a different religion), that person will face persecution. Nigeria is almost entirely either christian or muslim, so I wonder how much disdain there is for the non-religious or those of other views, especially when there are plenty of news items about crimes committed in the name of both religions.

    No doubt both countries share similar attitudes towards non-heterosexuals. Both have similar (and unfortunate) attitudes towards women and FGM.

  2. 2
    Meggamat

    It is unfortunate. However, I suspect that Nigeria will eventually move beyond this level, just as Britain did after the enlightenment. Perhaps there should be a new enlightenment.

  3. 3
    brucegorton

    Cowards always hate courage.

  4. 4
    CaitieCat, in no way a robot nosireebot

    Great interview, Yemmy. Sadly, Nigerians do not have a monopoly on hating gays or atheists.

    But you do get some fun commenters. I’m thinking of going back to that other thread and pointing out my continued still-alive-ness, despite inviting GOD’S TOTALLY AWESOME WRATH OF SMITING ON MY COMPLETELY SIN-FILLED HEAD. Their sky-daddy is sure slow on the draw with the smiting. I have a feeling I’m going to get old and die naturally before he’ll get around to it.

  5. 5
    Yemisi Ilesanmi

    @left0ver1under

    Or to ask it another way, is Nigeria to Africa as Indonesia is to Asia?

    This is probably true.The negative similarities are too numerous to ignore. :(

  6. 6
    Yemisi Ilesanmi

    @brucegorton So true. Hate is easy, Love takes courage.

  7. 7
    Yemisi Ilesanmi

    @CaitieCat -- Thanks. I have a feeling you are going to give those brimstone, fire raking Christians an heart-attack before their Skydaddy gets round to smiting you! :)

  8. 8
    fredericksparks

    I am really happy you are part of this network now. I appreciate hearing the perspective of a non American African descended person on these issues. (I blog at Black Skeptics)

  9. 9
    F [is for failure to emerge]

    I don’t know, but you seem to get plenty of hate from either angle. Hopefully you reach some of those who are not so vocally opposed to the existence of different sexual orientations and gender identities.

  10. 10
    Yemisi Ilesanmi

    @fredericksparks Thanks! And great work at Black Skeptics, i am glad to be part of the network. :)

  11. 11
    Yemisi Ilesanmi

    @ F [is for failure to emerge] -- Yeah, I do get a lot of hate from both angle, it just seems mentioning that I am an atheist as well as bisexual in the same sentence gives them an added impetus to condemn me to their imaginary hell and describe in details the torment they are preparing for me on this earth. I do worry for their health, such hate and delusion cannot be good for their sanity. Anyway, I do my best to reach all segment of the society, I have no doubt the open minded will get the message and give it a reasonable think over, as for the closed minded, well, one should not give up on them, let them sit on the couch and pour out their hate, maybe it will help them work through their issues :)

  12. 12
    Ekuba

    I just want to say a big thank you for the work you’re doing & for maintaining this blog & also all the insightful videos you put on youtube. If you’ve seen me commenting on several of your posts & your videos recently, it’s because I just discovered your youtube page & then your blog & I was blown away. It is the first time that I’ve seen an African LGBT stand up so boldly for his/ her rights.Anyway, I’m also an African bisexual woman who lived in shame for several years because I thought my orientation was a curse since my family was so religious & it led to me even being admitted at the hospital & several suicide attempts. It’s only when I came to the US recently (1 year ago) that I have learnt to accept my orientation after talking to LGBT people. I was really encouraged when I found out that you’re a lawyer because I’m also a lawyer although a baby one (lol) & I hope I can be courageous to be an active advocate for LGBT rights like you’re doing. I wrote all this just to tell you to ignore those who come to your blog to say horrible things & for you to realize that you’re postively impacting on lives since you’re making some of us more confident to be who we are. I wish you all the best

  13. 13
    Yemisi Ilesanmi

    @Ekuba -- Thank you so much for your positive feedback. I am g;ad to know that even though many rubbish reactions are thrown my way, there are many lives that are being positively touched by my writings and activism. Your comments are an inspiration for me to continue to do what i do and not give up to the bullies. It is good to have another African bisexual woman and a lawyer too, on my blogspace. I hope to do more writings on bisexuality. In fact, I am definitely making a video for Bisexuality day (Sep 23). Please watch out for it. Keep reading, keep commenting and stay positive in the face of all adversities. I consider us bisexuals lucky to be able to love across Sex/Gender barriers!

  14. 14
    SallyStrange

    Wow, that’s awesome, Ekuba. Thanks for sharing your story.

  15. 15
    Alex Griffin

    A worthy article Yemisi. I’m sorry to hear about all the vitriol thrown your way for not adhering to such brainless conformity, but console yourself in the ever encroaching shift towards reason. I take great comfort in the fact that due to this wonderful access to social media, knowledge and informational truth that the internet affords us, Atheists Humanists and Rationalists dominate the internet more and more by the day ;)

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