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

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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...]

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.

 

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[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...]

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...]

Nigerian atheist Mubarak Bala held hostage in a psychiatric ward for renouncing Islam and non belief in God

FREE MUBARAK Mubarak Bala, a Nigerian and an atheist is being held hostage in a psychiatry ward at Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, Kano, Nigeria on the orders of his father Bala Mohammed. Mubarak’s father is a prominent weekly columnist who writes a Saturday column for Daily Trust, a National Newspaper. Bala Mohammed committed his son to a psychiatric unit when his son expressed  non belief in God and renounced Islam.

I gathered from reliable sources, including sources from within the Daily Trust  Newspaper, that the extremism of Mubarak’s father’s was becoming apparent and some staff members were concerned about the appalling way he was treating his son whose public declaration of atheism and renunciation of Islam on social media seems to have attracted attention in Kano.

My source was shocked when a contact that is very close to the Publisher of Daily Trust said they were aware of the case and have been aware of Bala Mohamed’s growing extremism and the appalling way he committed his son to a psychiatry ward for renouncing Islam. However the paper refused to carry the story because of the controversy it would generate and a fear of reprisal. [Read more...]

LGBT Rights activists demonstrates at Nigerian Centenary Awards, UK

LGBT Rights activists demonstrates at Nigerian Centenary Awards, UK

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Nigerian LGBTIs in Diaspora Against Anti Same-Sex laws with the support of GALHA, London Black Atheists and other LGBT activists staged a demonstration at the venue of Nigerian Centenary Awards, UK.

The demonstration took place on the eve of London Pride, Friday 27 at Waltham Forest Town Hall, Walthamstow, London.  Standing outside the venue of the awards, the lgbt/Human rights activists unequivocally condemned the Anti-Lgbt law which stipulates 14 years jail term for Nigerian gays, Bisexuals and Transgender and 10 years imprisonment for anyone who supports LGBTS or advocates for LGBT rights. [Read more...]

Shocking and depressing migration attempts

It was shocking and depressing watching the video coverage of African men as they attempt to migrate to Europe on-board a 1squalid boat, in highly dangerous situation. Their boat engine developed a fault, they were found after two days drifting in the sea without food. They were arrested and squashed together in a horrible small cell. They were the lucky ones. Many had died trying to cross the sea illegally into Europe. Many will still die attempting the dangerous voyage.

BBC reports

The number of people attempting the dangerous sea crossing from North Africa to Italy has risen sharply, says Frontex, the EU border agency.

Quentin Sommerville gained exclusive access to one group, detained by the Libyan authorities while trying to make the crossing.

Some people may find his report from the city of Misrata distressing.

Well, I didn’t just find it distressing; I find it highly depressing and shocking.

What are African leaders doing? The politicians obviously do not care at all about the conditions their African brothers and sisters live in. It is these very conditions that force many Africans to flee their continent, sometimes employing life threatening methods just to get away. Wars, poverty and desperation continue to push people towards dangerous escape routes. [Read more...]

Love Not Hate: International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia.

To celebrate International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, enjoy this video of the ‘Love Not Hate’ protest rally organised by Nigerian LGBTs in Diaspora Against Anti Same Sex Laws. Together We Can End All Forms of Oppression and Discrimination. Happy IDAHOBIT. 

Boko Haram, #Bringbackourgirls, conspiracy theories, media and the mess called Nigeria.

I have so far refrained from writing about the Nigerian ‘missing girls’ for some reasons. Firstly, I wouldn’t want to cause any more pain to families of the missing girls, if indeed there are missing girls.

download (3) Secondly, I am not a fan of conspiracy theories.

I got a glimpse of just how much Nigerians love conspiracy theories when Lee Rigby was hatched to death on the street of London by Nigerian/British born Islamist fanatics, Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale. Many Nigerians went into conspiracy frenzy on social networks. They claimed it was all a set up and made the murderers out to be victims of a twisted immigration plot! Surprisingly, many of the conspiracy theorists were self-identified skeptics and freethinkers. I got fed up of their conspiracy theories showing on my newsfeeds that I reached for the block button. One thing I emphasized was how much pain their insensitive posts were causing the bereaved family. So, let’s get this out of the way, I loathe conspiracy theories, not just because they are mostly misguided but because they do tend to cause pains to the victims and their families. [Read more...]