Reviews- Freedom To Love For ALL: Homosexuality Is Not Un-African!

Amazing customer reviews of Freedom To Love For ALL: Homosexuality is not Un-African

REVIEW: Yemisi Ilesanmi, FREEDOM TO LOVE FOR ALL: Homosexuality is not Un-African! BookCoverImage new vista

 An adjective formed from the name of a country or continent can provide a serviceable, if general, basis for a discussion on ideas, events, places, etc. Greek ideas, French History, Arabian landscape.  But add the negative prefix Un- (as in Un-American or Un-African) and you are in the realm of the spurious and condemnatory, of denial, of mystiques that other people ‘perceive’ and subscribe to and expect you to as well, a never-fully explained free-standing adjective that  is used as a silencer and trump card in any argument.  Un-Biblical is another example.

   In this short book of essays, Yemisi Ilesanmi, a  human rights advocate and trade unionist, counters the indefinable ‘Un-African’ from  several angles, fact, logic and persuasion.

   Homosexuality is common to all peoples: Africa is no exception. Many African cultures viewed homosexuals and transgender as Gods: the Yoruba god of thunder, Sango, dressed as a woman; the Northern Congo Azande warriors routinely married male youths who functioned as temporary wives. Several of the Kings (Kabakas) of the Buganda tribe in Uganda  were gay.   And the first recorded gay kiss is from an Ancient Egyptian tomb. Homosexuality was not a foreign import.

   Indeed homosexuality was not a cultural value of the West, and has had to be fought for. Homophobia, however, was part of the baggage brought in with colonialism and  Christianity. The white imperialists introduced the Sodomy Laws. Many former  colonies such as  Canada, Australia and South Africa got shot of them years ago; other  colonies, still cling to them.  Some countries are extending the laws. Uganda and Nigeria, in particular – and to such a degree that  ‘black homophobia has replaced white racism as the newest form of intolerance.’

    The Nigerian Same Sex (Prohibition) Bill, 2011, (known as the ‘Jail the Gays’ Bill) states that a marriage contract or civil union between persons of the same sex is prohibited, and may not be solemnised in any place of worship. A  marriage certificate issued by a foreign country is void. ‘The registration of gay clubs, societies and organisations, their sustenance, processions and meetings are hereby prohibited. The show of same sex amorous relationship directly or indirectly is hereby prohibited.’ The punishment is 14 years for the couple involved in the marriage, 10 years for anyone involved in abetting a marriage, and 10 for operating a gay club.

   Twelve Northern Nigerian states have adopted Sharia Law, for which homosexual acts are punishable by stoning.  (Even this doesn’t go far enough for the  deputy chief Imam of Abuja who says, ‘Homosexuality and lesbianism are just too dirty in the sight of Allah. Those who engage in them deserve more than capital punishment. When they are killed, their corpse should also be mistreated.’)

     Many of the legislators behind the ‘Jail the Gays’ Bill have less than savoury personal lives, several having imported a child bride. Even more have not sufficiently distanced themselves from corrupt politicians who have been in power too long, are not delivering, and are eager to find a scapegoat for their own administrative failings. They give themselves away in their hysterical language, outlandish claims and blatant non sequiturs. The former President of Nigeria, Olusegan Obasanjo  claims, ‘Homosexuality is unBiblical, unnatural and Un-African.’  The Redeemed Christian Church of God  preaches, ‘If we allow same-sex marriage there there will be no procreation and we may become the last set of senators and no others to take over from us.’ Other choice comments include, ‘Same sex marriage is spreading round the whole world just like pornography and terrorism which has become the order of the day if not arrested in time.’  Yemisi has no problem in demolishing these arguments. She takes particular pleasure in dealing with the preposterous claim, ‘If the human rights of homosexuals are recognised, rapists, paedophiles and people who sleep with animals will start claiming human rights violations, too.’

   She quotes Wole Soyinka, ‘Legislators fail to distinguish between personal bills and interventions in private life. What people do in their bedrooms is no business of mine. It should not be the business of legislators.’ Yemisi adds, ‘Rather than deal with problems such as poverty, corruption, unemployment, poor security and Boko Haram, the legislators demonise the gays.  When will they  stop discussing who is sleeping with whom, and start making laws to move this underdeveloped, oil-rich nation forward?’  She goes on to say that the truly ‘Un-African’ practices are the killing of twins, child marriage and female circumcision, and the laws that do not allow women to inherit land. She adds that there is one truly unwelcome foreign import, and that is the influx of Evangelical Christians from America.

   Yemisi makes a case for LGBT Rights as Human Rights, but in her campaigning in Nigeria she has been hampered not only by religious bigotry, misinformation and irrelevant quotes (mainly from the uniquely ghastly Book of Leviticus) but that free speech and majority rule do not always work to the benefit of the minorities.  Free speech permits hate speech, and hate mail. Social networks are full of prejudice. Journalists tamper with information. Police never act on behalf of victims. However much nominal free speech there may (or may not)  be for minorities in the end the bigoted majority will prevail. ‘Minority can have their say, but majority will have their way.’ Even in South Africa, which in 2006, became the fifth country in the world, and the first in Africa, to legalise same-sex marriage  the law is not supported by the majority, and ‘curative rape’ as a way of preventing lesbianism is not rare.

    Yemisi welcomed the support of the Nigerian Humanist Movement, who made representations against the Bill. ‘Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, Transsexuals are an integral part of society. This unwise and ultimately futile attempt to outlaw same-sex marriages and by extension homosexuality, smacks of fear-mongering, and a lynch-mob mentality.’ But she laments the lack of support from the Nigerian Left, who do not consider gay rights a majority struggle. Human rights, some claim,  can only be assured when capitalism is overthrown; the LGBT fight is a mere diversionary tactic to take away attention from pressing economic problems. Yemisi disagrees. There were successful  demonstrations for the right of education, for women’s vote, and the freedom of association and expression.  She also points out that in 1917 Lenin abolished the Czarist laws against homosexuality, (which Stalin reversed). Fidel Castro came to see the light and apologised for his early laws against gays.  It is, she claims, all one fight. She quotes Desmond Tutu,  ‘My brothers and sisters, you stood with people, of colour who were oppressed because of their skin colour. If you are going to be true to the Lord you worship, you are also going to be there for the people who are being oppressed for something they can do nothing about: their sexual orientation.’

   A brave and timely book, not the last on the subject. Yemisi’s advocacy of the decriminalisation of homosexual acts and her call for recognition of LGBT rights as human rights have exposed her to many threats, including beheading.

 Tutu:  ‘If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.’

 John Dixon

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Exhibiting Africans in a Human Zoo is not Art, it is Racist Voyeurism! Please sign this petition.

The Human Zoo exhibition ‘Exhibit B’ by white South African Brett Bailey is disgusting and dehumanising! As a black woman in the 21st century, my skin colour or body should not be on exhibition for the voyeuristic, closeted pleasure of racist privileged white people. My ancestors already suffered this humiliation, I should not have to watch it happen again under the pathetic excuse of “It is Art”.

If the people at the Barbican Centre cannot see why this is racist and dehumanising, they need to raise their social consciousness and awareness.

As for the artist, white South African Brett Bailey, I think he already knows that he is a racist asshole, afterall his reported use of the ‘N’ words testify to this.

It is not art, it is an outlet for him and his fellow racist, privileged white people to enjoy voyeuristic, closeted racist pleasure at the expense of [Read more...]

LGBT Rights in Africa: Why we need international solidarity- Interview on SkyNews

Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transsexuals from countries where their sexual orientation and/or gender identity is criminalised need international solidarity. What we do not need is seeing international leaders who claim to support our fight for LGBT rights wine and dine our oppressors.

When we watch international leaders who are supposedly LGBT allies frolicking with our oppressors, the message we get is that we do not matter. In the long run, it is all about their politics, not their words. International leaders should please WALK THEIR TALK.

Below is a video of my interview on SkyNews on the topic LGBT Rights in Africa and why we need international solidarity. [Read more...]

When we say #BlackLifeMatters, please don’t butt in with your blind privilege.

Elon James White‏@elonjames

If I say #BlackLifeMatters and your response is “Why not EVERY life?” Unfollow me. You dont get it & I dont have time to explain it to you.”

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I came across the tweet above and i had to say, “Well said, Elon James White, well said“. Unfortunately this kind of tweets always get some of my white friends on facebook in a twist. What is so unfortunate is that some of them think they are well meaning people who want equal rights for all. If only they would take a minute to do their research and understand how the society they live in works. Everyone should learn to see their own privilege, be it skin colour, sexual identity, sex birth, geographical location, religion or class.

To be blind to your privilege is to not understand or see how you benefit from the society due to your status, a status you might not be conscious of but which is enough to deny the persons who don’t have that status the benefits you get. Heck, it might even cause the persons their lives while you go around not even acknowledging that you have that privilege. Yes, it is frustrating.

A few of my very good white friends on social media think this is sad and they don’t like it when I put up such status calling out [Read more...]

Religion, LGBT rights and military regimes: Interview in Solidarity Newspaper

Kate Harris interviews Yemisi Ilesanmi

Published in Workers Liberty’s Solidarity Newspaper

How did you get to where you are today as an LGBT activist and out bisexual woman?

It has been an interesting, tasking, journey towards self-awareness. It is also a journey that has involved studying society and finding my place in it. It is a continuous journey and one where I have to constantly remind myself that I have a right to be who I am in a world that is desperate to make me into what they would rather I be.

I started being politically and socially aware of my human rights at an early age. I was born in Nigeria in the mid-70s and grew up in a society that was marred with constant military coup d’états. There was no stable democracy. It was confusing because people took to the streets to celebrate successful coup d’états. I wondered why it was a good thing for the military to forcefully overthrow elected officials. But the people’s response was that the elected officials were corrupt. However, after having a taste of what military dictatorship means, people stopped celebrating coups. This started the difficult journey towards demanding and organising for a civilian regime where they would have a say in electing their own political leaders.  [Read more...]

It’s my Birthday, It’s my Birthday and I’m gonna shake my bodyyyy!!

The journey started 13.8 billion years ago with the Big Bang and continued 4.5 billion years ago with the Solar system and the Earth.  39 years ago, I swam for my life, beating millions of other sperms to the race to the egg. 39 years after, the race continues. However, I am happy to even have the one in a billion chance to experience the wonder that is life.

I am also loving all the good wishes coming my way from family members, friends and fans.

Even Google took time to send me birthday greetings in the form of a lovely personalised doodle. Yeah, I know they probably do this for everyone [Read more...]

Physically attacked at an atheist event by a fellow ‘feminist’ atheist!

I always thought if I were ever to be attacked by someone I only knew from social media especially Facebook, it would be by a homophobe, biphobe, 385838_210204545725456_192116174200960_481213_799145023_ntransphobe or a religious fanatic who didn’t like my LGBT rights advocacy or anti-religion posts. Never in my dreams would I have thought I would experience a physical attack and verbal abuse at an atheist event from a female Facebook friend who identifies as a feminist and an atheist!

Until now, my casual encounters with people who only knew me from Facebook have been positive. From the ones I ran into in London tubes to the ones who excitedly introduced themselves as my fb friends at social events or gave me heartfelt hugs at London pride, it has been positive experience until now. Get ready to hear the full gist, don’t forget to get your popcorn! [Read more...]

Of Rape graders and Hero worship.

Richard Dawkins ill-informed attempt to grade rape triggered discussions and heated debates on the issue of rape. Sure enough, rape apologists and victim blamers used the opportunity to proudly show off their self-inflicted ignorance and bigotry on the issue of Rape. It was also another avenue for hero worship. I did get some very worrisome responses on my Facebook wall to my blogpost [email protected]: No one said you endorsed rape, what you did was grade rape and that is appalling. It also exposes the fact that many are actually happy to blame victims but won’t admit that they are rape apologists.

I plan on making some of these discussions into a blogpost but first I need to get this very misguided, unconscionable comment made by a proudly ignorant person out of the way.

Trigger alert- Contains Trivialisation of Rape. [Read more...]

Nigerian Trans woman, Ms Sahhara, wins Ms Super Sireyna Worldwide: Eat your heart out Transphobic Nigeria!

I was delighted when the beautiful, multi- talented Ms Sahhara was declared the winner of Super Sireyna Worldwide, 2014 at the grand finale in 10513314_162106167322674_1317010551276969853_nPhilippines. She also won the best Talent award and her national costume was fabulous!

Ms Super Sireyna is the most watched Transgender Beauty Pageant on Philippine Television, Eat Bulaga. The pageant aims to showcase the beauty of Super Sireynas and to foster camaraderie amongst contestants and Sireynas worldwide. It grades contestants on looks, talent and wit.

Ms Sahhara is a Nigerian Trans Woman who resides in UK. She is very visible on social media. She uses her social networks to advocate for LGBT Rights and promote Trans visibility. She entered the pageant as Miss Nigeria.  Her interview section was great! She answered her questions with poise, intelligence and was witty to the core! She also used the platform to highlight the problems LGBT Nigerians face due to criminalisation of their sexual orientation, gender identity and the negative societal attitudes towards LGBTs.

In her entry video for the competition Super Sireyna Worldwide Nigeria 2014, she explained why she was competing. She stated that if given the chance to wear the crown, she will use the opportunity to enlighten people about Trans’ issues. She believes if people don’t understand things, they should ask questions. The video was made as part of her preparation for the competition. She obviously prepared with passion and dedication for the pageant. It wasn’t just about beauty, it was also about talent, creativity and passion. The video is quite informative and worth watching. [Read more...]

Hurray, Ugandan Court strikes down the Anti-LGBT Law!

I woke up to some exciting and progressive news today. Ugandan court strikes down the Anti-LGBT law that was passed earlier this year!

According to ABC News-

 A Ugandan court on Friday invalidated an anti-gay bill signed into law earlier this year, saying it was illegally passed and is therefore unconstitutional.

The panel of five judges on the East African country’s Constitutional Court said the speaker of parliament acted illegally when she allowed a vote on the measure despite at least three objections over lack of a quorum.”

The court in its ruling said:

“The speaker was obliged to ensure that there was quorum,”

“We come to the conclusion that she acted illegally.”

Ugandan lawyer Ladislaus Rwakafuuzi, an attorney for the activists, said the ruling “upholds the rule of law and constitutionalism in Uganda.

Kosiya Kasibayo, a state attorney, said a decision had not been made on whether to appeal the ruling in the Supreme Court.

 

[Read more...]

[email protected]: No one said you endorsed rape, what you did was grade rape and that is appalling!

Watching the downward spiral of Richard Dawkins from a respected scientist and atheist to a cringeworthy tweeter commentator is indeed Richard-Dawkinssaddening.

The latest embarrassing and thoughtless tweets of the Professor has generated yet another media storm and a lot of criticism and not forgetting the usual dose of worship from the “Richard Dawkins can do no wrong” worshippers. What I find amusing and of course saddening is how he refuses to acknowledge the constructive criticisms levelled at his tweets but chose instead to spew bigotry and disdain from his high pedestal at his critiques. To boot, he tries to make himself out as a victim of witch hunts!

The Professor and his apologists are going to ridiculous length to ‘clarify’ the intentions behind his tweets. Richard Dawkins wanted us to know he was not endorsing rape, but who the heck said he was endorsing rape? It is like the man wants to direct our attention away from the major blunder he committed by using an obvious defence, only that no one attacked him with that tool, so using that particular defence is basically pointless. We are no children that can be tempted away from the main issues just because he flashed a candy at us.

Below are the Richard Dawkins’ tweets in question, one can see how the tweets spiralled out of the control of Richard Dawkins.  RD even went on a tantrum when he couldn’t believe that people were even more stupid than he thought. Sighs. [Read more...]

Beauty in Diversity

You claim I am flawed

You say I do not belong

My colour different

My body too big

I am attracted to same-sex

I love all genders!

Pause, look, think

Is beauty only uniform?

In different packages it comes

In more ways than one I am capable

My beauty is not just in my abilities

My strength is not just in my looks

My body is beauty in another shape

My skin colour a testimony to creativity

The glow of Love is genderless

When we shut the eye of hate

Ignore the voice of ignorance

We will clearly see the

Nooks and crannies of beauty

And forever appreciate

Beauty in all its diversity.

By © Yemisi Ilesanmi 

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I got a new purple laptop and found the meaning of life!

When my Sony VAIO laptop suddenly started freezing, I thought the world was about to end! Surely freezing laptops and inability to access the internet are signs of the apocalypse; the inevitable invasion of the zombies?Snapshot_20140726_15

I didn’t realise just how much I have come to depend on my laptop and internet for my daily existence until I couldn’t use my laptop or access the internet at will. When I informed my son that my laptop was faulty, he was so concerned that he would make international calls several times a day, to take me through steps to sort the problem. My mum also panicked, every time she called, she would ask how I was coping without my laptop.  It then dawned on me that even those close to me recognised that I am highly dependent on my laptop. It was as if they thought not having a functional laptop meant I was going to fall apart and spiral into depression cos I could not go online to perform all those ‘important’ online stuff, like well, Facebooking.

In a way, I can understand why they were so concerned. I must admit that I am addicted to my laptop especially since I am currently an unemployed refugee trying to rebuild my career and make a home in a new environment. Writing basically keeps me mentally and emotionally stimulated. Not being able to write was driving me insane. However, once upon a time (seems like a galaxy far away), I used to author handwritten novels. In fact, those story plots were written on paper, mostly notebooks. When I was a high school teenager, I would write romance novels fashioned after Mills and Boons series which I was kinda addicted to, although I cringe now to think I ever liked these M&B series.  My classmates were fascinated with my stories, and since there was only one handwritten copy of these stories, they would queue up and take turns, waiting to read each chapter as the plot thickens. Now I can’t even write a legible sentence on paper to save my life! [Read more...]

Video: LGBT Rights activists demonstrates at Nigerian Centenary Awards, UK

Speaking during the demonstration, Yemisi Ilesanmi said:

We are here to speak out on behalf of all oppressed Nigerian LGBTs who have been denied a voice in Nigeria. We are here to put a face on Nigerian LGBTs. We are here to remind you that LGBT Nigerians are not criminals and are worthy of celebration. We are here to remind all those who criminalised us and are turning us into asylum seekers that we will not be silenced. We are LGBT Nigerians and we are proud.”

The demonstrators left the guests with the message “Nigerian LGBTS and LGBT rights supporters are not criminals and we will not be silenced in our fight for our human rights. We hope as Nigeria celebrates its hundred years of existence, its people will also celebrate diversity and do away with homophobic, biphobic and transphobic laws.”

Blogpost  linkhttp://wp.me/p3uryi-AZ

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Pride is a Celebration and a Protest: London Pride, 2014

This year at London Pride 2014 (June 28), my group, Nigerian LGBTIs in Diaspora Against Anti Same-Sex Laws marched alongside Peter Tatchell Foundation, Out and Proud Group and other African LGBTIs activists to protest against the persecution of LGBTs in 80 per cent of the 53 Commonwealth member states, many of them African nations.

It is saddening that 80% of Commonwealth countries discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and inter-sex (LGBTI) people. In this age of democracy, every progressive nation should endeavour to protect the human rights of every citizen. No one is less of a human being because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Acknowledging and protecting LGBTI rights as human rights is a step forward for humanity. It is shameful that the Commonwealth of Nations has not taken this important step. We continue to call on the Commonwealth to stand up for the rights of its LGBTI citizens. Every human deserves human rights. LGBTI rights are human rights.

Pride is both a celebration and a Protest. As we celebrate our Rights, let’s remember those who are still criminalized for their sexual orientation.

Enjoy the sights and sounds of London Pride 2014.

 

 

Even though the weather wasn’t great, not even the rain could rain on our parade, the rainbow always shines through! [Read more...]