5 Reasons Why We Still Celebrate Pride: London Pride 2016.

It was London pride 2016 on Saturday 25, June 2016. As usual, the annual LGBT Pride celebration 20160625_165734meant the streets of central London felt the colourful presence of LGBT Londoners and their allies.  Marching from Baker street, Regent street, Oxford street and well, Cockspurs street, all the way to Trafalgar square, the colourful parade brightened up the streets of London. Rainbow flags, beautiful floats, creative costumes, the energetic marchers and the large appreciative supporters who turned out en masse to cheer the parade along, all made for one very beautiful London Pride, 2016. And of course what would London Pride be without the very creative and beautiful drag queens? They were fabulous as always! They slayed in their beautiful costumes and creative makeups. The crowd were eager to take pictures with those divas.  And oh, there was even a sweet moment when a police man in the parade went on his knees to propose to his boyfriend!

This year’s Pride theme was NO FILTER. It encourages LGBTs to live life without filters. Just be you. There was a huge turnout. According to London Pride, an estimated 1 million people took part in the Pride and about 40,000 people marched in the parade, the largest so far in London Pride history.

The homophobic killings in Orlando was a rude and appalling reminder that homophobia is still very much alive even within the so called civilised and free countries. London LGBT and allies decided to turn out en masse to not only celebrate Pride but to show support for the Orlando victims.

The homophobic attack in Orlando had somehow jolted the lgbt community to appreciate more the reasons why we have to be out, proud and still be very political. We are not free until we are all truly free from homopobic, biphobic and transphobic fuelled hate and prejudice and their deadly consequences.

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A straight friend asked me why we still need to celebrate Pride, after all it is not as if anyone is bothering gays on the streets of London. Considering that this wasn’t the first time I have been asked “Why still celebrate Pride?” and this question always comes from heterosexuals, it is often necessary to remind them and myself of the very reasons we celebrate LGBT Month and Pride.

As a bisexual Nigerian woman living in London, these are the 5 reasons I celebrate and march at Pride.

1- International Solidarity

Pride parade serves as a great opportunity to extend international solidarity to the many LGBTs 20160625_170241who still live under draconian laws. As a Nigerian bisexual woman living in London, marching at London Pride and other Prides, gives me an opportunity to celebrate the freedom I am denied in Nigeria because of my sexual orientation. Coming from a country where being Gay, lesbian, bisexual or transsexual means I face 14 years’ jail term under the Antigay law, it is no wonder that I appreciate and celebrate my freedom and sexual orientation whenever and wherever I have the great opportunity to do so.

By joining the Pride parade, I not only celebrate my freedom to be me, I also see it as giving a voice to the many voiceless Nigerian LGBTs who currently face 14 years’ imprisonment for their sexual orientation. When Nigerian lgbts in diaspora come to pride to march and fly our banners, we are bringing attention to the plight of our fellow Nigerians, Ugandans, Cameroonians and many others where same sex relationships are criminalised.

We recognise that unlike those of us living in diaspora, our persecuted LGBT brothers, sisters and queers back home live in fear and do not have the luxury of being free to enjoy and celebrate their sexual orientation.

LGBT Month provides an opportunity to bring these issue to the fore. We can’t be truly free until we are all free. In celebrating Pride, we celebrate our small and big victories while also remembering and empowering our LGBT brothers, sisters and queers who do not have such privilege.

We recognise that our LGBT brothers, sisters and queers could be put in prison for years, thrown from a tall building, lynched by homophobic, biphobic and transphobic mob just because of their sexual orientation. We celebrate the tenacity of our persecuted LGBT families whose lives are in danger because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

When I march at Pride, I think of all the hate mails I get just for being bisexual and for speaking out for lgbt rights, and I stand tall with my head high and celebrate all that I am and hope that one day, we all will be truly free from such hate, prejudice and deadly bigotry.

2- Not everyone has Heterosexual Privilege

Do not assume all is well with the world just because you are not facing the same problems as others different than you. Your privilege, in this case, your sexual orientation privilege, could be protecting you from experiencing the discrimination Lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals still have to contend with, even in “tolerant” London.

In the workplace, on the streets, within the family, in schools and closed community groups, Lesbian, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals still face subtle and sometimes, not so subtle discrimination, bullying, hate and prejudice on a daily basis.

When straight people who never have to face this type of discrimination ask, “Why do gays still celebrate Pride, after all no one is disturbing them?”, what I hear and see is their privilege status as heterosexuals coming to the fore. The fact that you have not personally experienced such discrimination or witness it does not mean it is not happening. Your heterosexual privilege could be shielding you from the experiences of sexual and gender minorities. Such discrimination might even be happening right under your nose and you don’t recognise it as discrimination because you are so used to this being the status quo.

In some so called civilised, lgbt friendly societies-

  • Gays still cannot donate blood.
  • Same sex couple still can’t have their marriage legally recognised.
  • Trans murder rate is still very high.
  • Subtle discrimination against LGBT still goes on in workplaces.
  • LGBT youth still have to face coming out to their parents, friends and society, a very daunting task for many as acceptance by family members and friends is not always guaranteed. This has also led to a rise of homeless lgbt youths in need of shelter because they were kicked out by homophobic, biphobic, transphobic family members.
  • Adoption is not always smooth sailing for same sex couples. Societal perception as marriage being between opposite sex is still prevalent. The so called traditional marriage and its values still means same sex couples have to fight to have the equality act recognised in many aspects of their marriage, in their dealings with establishments, institutions and their interactions with the general public.

When we are faced with navigating these discriminations every day, it’s not surprising that we just want to come out and celebrate what makes us unique as well as human. The LGBT Pride provides the opportunity to party and for us to make a political statement under the rainbow umbrella.

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3- Celebration of hard-earned victories

London wasn’t always tolerant of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transsexuals or queers. It wasn’t long ago that LGBT people were stoned on the streets of London. This year the LGBT community celebrates 47 years of the Stonewall protests of 1969.  Following the first LGBT pride in America in 1970, a year after the stonewall riots, London had its own very first pride in 1972. Lesbians gays, bisexuals and transsexuals living in UK and America did not always have it so easy. People, especially our heroes, have had to fight hard to get us to where we are today.

Enjoying police security and the support of allies to celebrate Pride on the streets of London wasn’t handed to Londoners and the entire British people on a platform of gold. It was fought for, it is a hard-earned victory and we should enjoy it.

4-Education and changing attitudes

The British people have come far in accepting LGBT rights as human rights. They have enacted equality laws to protect these fundamental rights. However, they can still do more. Laws are one thing, implementation, creating social awareness, changing attitudes and achieving true equality, are another.

Pride not only gives room for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transsexuals and queers to celebrate, it also creates opportunity to continue the education on why LGBT Rights Are Human rights. Remember, same sex couples in England, Wales and Scotland only just got the right to marry. Northern Ireland is yet to legally allow same sex marriage.

There are still establishments, workplaces and private business owners who feel that based on their religion or personal opinion, they can discriminate against lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transsexuals and queers.  LGBT month and Pride parade affords us the opportunity to be visible, out and proud. It also sets the mood for educated discussion and enlightening people on sexual orientation and gender identity.

5-Why still celebrate pride? Well, why not!

Diversity is something that should be celebrated especially when the right to celebrate was hard-earned. Taking to the street once a year to celebrate how far we have come and celebrate love and gender in all its diversity is not too much to ask. It is not the place of a straight person to inform Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transsexuals and Queers, “We now accept you, get over it.”

  • We will celebrate our struggles.
  • We will celebrate our victories
  • We will celebrate our diversity.
  • We will celebrate our same sex love and queer identities.
  • We will celebrate because we are fabulous like that and we know how to throw a colourful and magnificent street party!

We will continue to celebrate because we can. Don’t ask us why, just join us and be happy with us. Together we can continue to build a more tolerant, diverse and equal society.

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Homophobic/Biphobic attack claims another life in Nigeria; Councilman on the run for his life

EDITED (16/03/2016)- Latest reports coming in are pointing to the fact that the pictures accompanying this story, which were taken from comments left on the alleged victim’s Facebook wall and news-reports, are not that of the alleged victim. Investigations are ongoing to authenticate the story. 

Trigger warning- Graphic pictures: Blood and violence.  

For some time now, for the sake of my mental health, I have shied away from reporting any news or write about anything from my home country, Nigeria. There is only so much sadness I can handle and that country has left me heartbroken one time too many. However, when I saw this horrible news of tragic homophobia on my timeline, I knew I had to say something about this. If anything could jolt me out of my silence on Nigeria and its nefarious issues, it is certainly another tragic homophobia, biphobia and transphobia case.

From news filtering in, the victim, Akinnifesi Olumide Olubunmi, was accused of homosexual activities, he was beaten up by youths in the community on 17th February 2016 and later died on 18th February 2016 from the injuries sustained. [Read more…]

On the ban of UKIP LGBT from London Pride

London Pride is an event I eagerly look forward to since I started residing in UK. For me, it represents freedom, a 10270791_910936968932361_6130231271874203855_nsafe place to make a loud political statement and have fun with LGBT families and allies.

Therefore, it was a shock when I checked the London Parade list for 27 June, 2015 and saw UKIP LGBT staring right back at me.  The UK Independence Party (UKIP) is widely known for its homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, xenophobia and blatant racism.  I was aghast that UKIP LGBT is going to be in that ‘safe and fun’ pride parade.

Considering how vocal UKIP leaders and members have been about condemning LGBT rights and [Read more…]

Free and Equal Naija campaign should be without a BUT.

To mark this year’s international human rights day,  a group of Nigerian individuals and organisations came together to adopt the Free and Equal Naija campaign todownload promote inclusiveness of LGBT rights as human rights.

I am a firm believer in equal rights; therefore, the Free and equal Naija hashtag appealed to the human rights activist in me. However, when I got the memo and guideline that came with the concept note, I was once again, disappointed. The memo came with the guideline-

Important Notice:

The #FreeAndEqualNaija Campaign is not a marriage equality campaign. All advocacy outputs should be directed toward inclusiveness and accountability in the promotion and protection of human rights of all Nigerian citizens.

Once again, marriage equality is being treated as the taboo words that must not be uttered if we are to win the support of Nigerian human rights activists and organisations.

There is this growing stigma attached to marriage equality campaign especially amongst African LGBT activists. Although i appreciate the effort to speak up for LGBT rights in a country where it is a crime to do so, but as a staunch supporter of Marriage Equality, I could not fully get behind the Free and Equal Naija campaign because i did not wish to be part of anything that stigmatises marriage equality campaign. [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…]

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  link– http://wp.me/p3uryi-AZ

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Archbishop of Canterbury irresponsibly blames the atrocities of Boko Haram on same-sex Marriage

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The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, speaking on an LBC phone-in program suggested that African Christians will be killed if the Church of England accepts gay marriage. According to the Freethinker, he claimed he had stood by a mass grave in Nigeria of 330 Christians who had been massacred by neighbours who had justified the atrocity by saying: “If we leave a Christian community here we will all be made to become homosexual and so we will kill all the Christians.”

He was also quoted in the Guardian as saying:

I have stood by gravesides in Africa of a group of Christians who had been attacked because of something that had happened in America. We have to listen to that. We have to be aware of the fact. If the Church of England celebrated gay marriages the impact of that on Christians far from here, in South Sudan, Pakistan, Nigeria and other places would be absolutely catastrophic. Everything we say here goes round the world.

[Read more…]

Breeding the likes of Isabirya Richard via Religion, Homophobia and Anti-LGBT laws in Africa

When my attention was drawn to the facebook posts of Isabirya Richard, I seriously felt like puking and giving up on humanity.Uganda

Isabirya Richard openly called for the stoning of gays.

He mentioned names and posted pictures of people he thought were gays or gay supporters and publicly asked for them to be killed.

He volunteered to lead the Christian mob crusade against gays.

He even publicly solicited for Christian hackers to hack into the emails and online profiles of suspected gays, lesbians and Trans.He claimed they would earn a great reward in heaven for helping to track down ‘sodomites’.

He went as far as documenting the movements of those he named as gays and called for attacks on them. He boasted that a gay person just escaped his attack but promised that the homosexual won’t be so lucky next time.Uganda2 resised [Read more…]

Open Letter To Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)

27 January, 2014

Dear Dr. Chidi Odinkalu,

It is with deep concern that I write this open letter to you to register my dismay at the continued silence of your offSDC15091ice on the recently signed Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act. It is surprising that as Chairperson of the Governing body of National Human Rights Commission, a lawyer and a human right activist of note, you have not deemed it fit to issue a public statement weeks after a section of Nigerian populace was criminalized and stripped of their fundamental human rights via a stroke of President Goodluck Jonathan‘s pen. The most you have said in your official capacity, albeit in private, is that you are still studying the new law.

Dr. Chidi Odinkalu, how long would it take your office to study this legislation? The content of the law has been known to you and most Nigerians since 2011 when the bill was first approved by the Senate. The harmonized version of the bill that was signed did not change much. In your official capacity, you must have received a copy of the Act as it is part of your official duty to advise the President on the human rights implication of bills tabled before him.

As a lawyer and a human right activist of note, you cannot claim to be unaware of the human rights violations inherent in this new legislation. Therefore, I wonder how you could turn a blind eye to such blatant violation of fundamental human rights. Is this about protecting [Read more…]