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 actively seeking to work against LGBTs rights, this information came as a shock. In fact, my first reaction was “UKIP has an LGBT section for real?” I would have been surprised too if I saw ‘UKIP immigrants’ listed in a parade list for a rally organised by immigrants and allies to promote Immigrants’ rights.

I do have a problem believing that UKIP LGBT has a good motive for wanting to be part of the parade list. In fact, I would not be surprised if that section of UKIP was just hastily created for the purpose of pinkwashing and to launder the well-earned homophobic image of UKIP.

Under normal circumstances, I would not happily call for the ban of an organisation from participating in an event that was designed to promote human rights, acceptance, and tolerance just because i feel offended by what they have to say or what they stand for. However, there is certainly nothing normal about the sudden emergence of UKIP LGBT for parading in London Pride, if anything, it is highly suspicious. I totally support Free speech, but it should not be an umbrella to encourage Hate speech or any propaganda of such.

I was glad to sign an online petition calling for the ban of UKIP LGBT from marching at London Pride. The petition was clear that there were provisions in the Pride in London terms of participation that UKIP and what it stands for clearly contradicts.  The Pride in London website states:

Pride in London reserves the right to exclude from Pride in London events any organisation whose policies or leadership do not support the values of acceptance and inclusion that Pride promotes.

As the petition organiser rightly stated 

Nigel Farage, leader of UKIP, clearly does not support the values of acceptance that Pride promotes, and UKIP is an inherently homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, racist and misogynistic political party.

It must be noted that far-right parties including the BNP and EDL are already banned from London Pride. However, Pride in London has not been consistent in implementing or enforcing its own guidelines. Therefore, it could be argued that the same policy is being used to mete out unequal treatment, especially when there are other political organisations marching in the parade who are not exactly shining example of human rights values that Pride extols.

One thing I can say in defence of such other organisations is that at least their LGBT sections are vocal about supporting LGBT rights and actively work towards changing the anti-LGBT policies, stance and sentiments within their organisations. Therefore, I would think they have earned their place in the Pride parade. However, same thing cannot be said of UKIP LGBT.

Following the outcry and the many signatures calling for UKIP LGBT to be banned from London Pride, Pride in London rescinded its decision to include UKIP in the parade. The Pride in London Committee issued a statement, part of which stated-

For this year we have reached the decision that UKIP’s application to join the Pride in London Parade, 27th June 2015, will be turned down.  This decision has been made after careful consultation in order to protect participants and ensure the event passes off safely and in the right spirit, it has not been made on a political basis.

While I welcome the ban of UKIP LGBT from the pride parade, I must say, I am not in agreement with the reasons cited by Pride in London for arriving at this decision. I think this is an issue where it is appropriate to take a stance on political ground. Pride might be fun and inclusive but actually, it is or at least supposed to be political. Citing ‘Can’t guarantee safety’ as a reason to ban anyone from taking part in a public event, is not good enough.

Peter Tatchell succinctly summed it up  in his article Should Ukip LGBT be banned from the Pride London parade?

I don’t believe the Ukip contingent would have been a threat to anyone in the parade, nor do I accept that “safety” is a legitimate reason for excluding them. This is the same lame excuse that has been used by the Russian authorities to ban Moscow Pride; namely that LGBT marchers would be at risk of violence by neo-Nazis and ultra-nationalists.

Ukip LGBT should not be banned because of the potentially violent reactions of their opponents. Penalising them because of the aggression of others is wrong and unfair. If there is a danger of assaults, the police have a duty to protect the likely victims. Simple.

The only genuine, serious grounds on which Ukip LGBT could be legitimately banned is that their politics conflict with the human rights values and policies of Pride London and the wider LGBT community.

It is my opinion that Pride in London was hasty in accepting the application of UKIP LGBT to join the parade. Pride article-2673299-1F36A93800000578-850_964x731in London could have avoided this debacle by consulting widely or by simply consulting its own guidelines and implementing it accordingly before issuing out pride parade permits.

Until the time when this so called ‘UKIPLGBT’ visibly uses its voice to call for LGBT rights, be actively seen to stand on the side of LGBTs, and make  visible efforts to change its party’s anti-lgbt stance, it should not be given a ticket to pinkwash and launder its image on the platform of the very people it seeks to oppress.

UKIP LGBT members are desperately trying to garner public sympathy by portraying themselves as the victims in this case. They have even threatened to gate crash the event. However, one must wonder if UKIP members understand what it means to be a victim, considering that their party actively seeks to continue to make the most vulnerable members of our society, victims.

It has been clearly stated that UKIP LGBT members are free to participate in the parade with other groups or as individuals; they just can’t do it under the banner of the monstrous UKIP.

However, I must say, as an immigrant and member of the LGBT community, I am glad that I wouldn’t be running into an officially endorsed UKIP banner at London Pride 2015.

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“Hero Mom”? Hitting children is not what good parenting looks like

When the video of an angry mom beating up her son at the Baltimore protest went viral, Toya Graham, the mom who smacked her 16-year-old son, Michael Singleton, for joining the protest, became the face of good parenting and many lauded her as hero mom of the year.

It is disappointing that many hailed her action and called for more ‘black mothers’ to whip their ‘erring’ sons into line! Are we so desensitised to violence that we don’t see anything wrong with a parent hitting a child in anger? You cannot discipline a child when you are out of control, not thinking straight or blinded with fear or anger. Toya Graham was expressing anger and fear, she admitted, “I just lost it”.

I cringed when I watched the video, the fear and violence hit me in the face! This is not what good parenting looks like. This is not what discipline looks like. This is not what makes a hero mom. This is FEAR. This is ANGER. This is a panicked mother lashing out at her child. This is an adult hitting a child she knows will not hit her back.

Hitting your child in a fit of anger is not discipline; it is child abuse. Lashing out at your children in fear because you want to keep them safe is not Love; it is child abuse. [Read more…]

May Day: Organise not Agonise!

Every day, the divide between the Rich and the Poor widens, few overpaid workers, some well-paid workers and many underpaid workers. On this special day, please spare a minute to remember the millions of unemployed people; many made redundant by the many budget cuts. Many unemployed people are desperately seeking to enter the workforce, to keep a roof over their heads, put food on the table for their children and struggling to pay bills. Underpaid workers and the unemployed bear the brunt of nasty government policies.

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Help turn on the light at the end of the tunnel for many unemployed people left struggling to make ends meet due to economic downturn, corporate greed, redundancy and many avoidable budget cuts. Together We Can! [Read more…]

South Africa and Xenophobic Attacks: Simply No Justification

On March 20, 2015, xenophobic attacks broke out in Durban, South Africa, some disgruntled South Africans turned on their neighbours, viciously attacking foreigners, mostly immigrant black Africans. This set in motion a wave of anti-immigrants attacks. The locals accused migrants of taking local jobs. They wanted the foreigners out of their country. Since the attacks, many deaths have been recorded and thousands of foreigners have fled for their lives, with many rendered homeless and in hiding.

A Mozambican man, Emmanuel Sithole was stalked, stabbed and murdered on the streets by vicious South Africans, According to reports, many including policemen watched while he pleaded for his life.

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The Nigerian consul-general in South Africa, Uche Ajulu-Okeke said  – [Read more…]

The Charlie Hebdo tragedy: The five crowds that are getting it wrong

In the wake of the atrocious murder of Charlie Hedbo’s journalists by Islamist fundamentalists which led to #Jesuischarlie, it is sad that some people have chosen this horrendous time to falsely accuse the magazine of the very thing it stands against; Racism, Sexism, Homophobia and Misogyny.

As Libby Nelson wrote in Charlie Hebdo: its history, humor, and controversies:

Charlie Hebdo is known for its cartoons, which are often raunchy and provocative, whether they depicted the Prophet Mohammed or portrayed the Pope performing holy communion with a condom.

Charlie Hebdo’s editor, Stéphane Charbonnier, who was murdered in the attack, described the newspaper’s positions in 2012 as left-wing, secular, and atheist.

Below are 5 different crowds that are getting it wrong and why.

1- The “Charlie Hebdo is racist and sexist” crowd

This crowd eagerly post some of Charlie Hedbo’s cartoons with the aim of accusing the magazine of racism and L4057-1011.0sexism, without caring to dig into the context.

The context of Charlie Hebdo’s Parodies/cartoons is easily understood by the French but not easily understood by outsiders, unless they are conversant with French politics. Some of these cartoons can be viewed and understood under the piece What are some of Charlie Hebdo’s most famous cartoons?

At first glance, these cartoons might appear racist, sexist, and ill-thought-out, but after reading the contexts, this is usually not the case.

So, “What was the context of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoon depicting Boko Haram sex slaves as welfare queens?”

This is what Libby Nelson has to say:

Charlie Hebdo covers often combined two unrelated stories to make a satirical point. In the context of the magazine’s leftist politics, this seems to be about spoofing not Nigerian trafficking victims, but French welfare critics, who have argued that France should cut welfare programs to prevent immigrant women from exploiting them. The cover, in this view, seems to say, “Hey, welfare critics, you’re so heartless that you probably think that even Nigerian sexual slavery victims are money-grubbing ‘welfare queens.

This is what French people have to say about it on Quora [Read more…]

Islamist Barbarians Have Struck Again!

Islamist barbarians have struck again, as 3 gunmen went on a killing spree, murdering 10 journalists, 2 police officers and injuring 7 people in the name of Allah.

BBC reports

Gunmen have attacked the Paris office of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 people and injuring seven in an apparent Islamist attack.

At least two masked attackers opened fire with assault rifles in the office and exchanged shots with police in the street outside before escaping by car.

The gunmen shouted “we have avenged the Prophet Muhammad”, witnesses say

This is truly sickening. Unfortunately, this is not likely to be the last time Islamist terrorists would kill to protect the honour of their attackPaedophile prophet, while shouting Allahu Akbar.

Barbaric, primitive religious fanatics and those so-called moderates, who feign disgust at these atrocities but still spew passages from their Holy books to justify atrocities, need brain transplants!

This is another blatant attack on Freedom of Expression by these barbaric religious fanatics.

It was also reported that 2 of the cartoonists killed had personal body guards because there has been ongoing life threatening messages from Islamists who feel offended by the cartoons the Newspaper published.

Imagine what it is like to be under constant fear for your life for exercising your Freedom of Expression.

I am so tired of hearing the rhetoric that people should not upset the religious community. Why should we care that religious people are [Read more…]

Choosing between the Sharia fanatic and the inept, incumbent President: The sad case of a gutless nation

Nigerians seem to have lost their memory, again.buhari and jonathan

Who votes for a man who truncates democracy?

Who votes for a man who has repeatedly shown his disdain for the rule of law?

Who votes for a man with a record of appalling human rights violations?

Who votes for a man who advocates for Sharia law in a supposedly secular society?

Who votes for a man who cares not that lives, especially young lives, were lost because he lost an election?

Who in their right mind endorse such a despotic being as a presidential candidate?

How could a decent person openly campaign for votes for this despot?

What type of self-acclaimed progressive party fields such a candidate?

I was flabbergasted when General Muhammadu Buhari, a 72 year old ex-military despot and Sharia law fanatic was adopted as the [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…]

#Ferguson: Mike brown and the “It is not a race thing” Apologists.

I have been unable to bring myself to write a blogpost on ‪#‎Ferguson for weeks now. Reading the updates is overwhelmingly heart wrenching. However, my sadness and pain won’t shield me from the myriad of stupid, wilfully ignorant and racist comments and memes that pops up on my newsfeed. If anything, those comments, status updates and memes contribute to my pain and anger. Michael Brown, 19, was unarmed when he was shot eight times in the middle of a street in Ferguson. And now, there is the case of Eric Garner, an African American choked to death by a white police officer.

It is disheartening when in an attempt to deny the racial aspect involved in Mike Brown’s murder, people who should know better post things like:

“This is not a race thing”

“I married a white person, my in-laws are white and they are not racists “

“All black people are not criminals; All white people are not racists”

“What if Mike brown was white?”

“Can’t we just move on?”

“But all lives matter!”

Those comments expose the comfortable ignorance people maintain on race related issues. Many white people are quick to deny white privilege. Some black people are quick to exclaim in unison with their white in-laws, “Not all white people are racists, can’t we just move on?”

An atheist black friend who should know better posted a video purportedly showing Mike Brown shoplifting, without any clarification and the first commenter, another black person, immediately wrote, “He shoplifted, he should be shot.” [Read more…]

Bullies Are Not Born; They Are Made.

Our society is not doing enough to address bullying of vulnerable young people, especially young people with disabilities. I grew up in a society where even teachersstop-bully-logo laughed at and maltreated students who suffer from learning disabilities.

There was this particular case, which even decades later, still makes me furious. Whenever I hear of children with disabilities who are bullied by adults, I instantly think of this boy in my junior high school class in Nigeria, who was constantly bullied not just by students but by teachers too.

The boy, I think his name was ‘Jamiu’, was always falling asleep during class sessions. We were told or rather, there were rumours that the boy was bitten by Tsetse fly and as a result had ‘sleeping sickness’. For years, I was terrified of flies.  Obviously, the child suffered from some sort of sleeping disorder, and he constantly fell asleep in class.  Teachers told us to mock him for falling asleep during class sessions. Teachers made him stand in front of the class where he was humiliated with the whole class staring at him like a freak. Since it was our first year in high school, we were between the ages of 12 and 13, but it seems the boy was much older. He was also bigger than most of us in the class. However, I rarely heard him speak. He seemed to bear his constant humiliation with stoic fortitude.

This young boy had learning disabilities and did not perform well in class. He sat at the back of the class. Looking back now, it seems that young people who had learning disabilities were always sat at the back of the class. The ‘bright’ ones were always sat at the front rows, while those who did not perform well were pushed to the back seats. The further down you are, the lower you are in the hierarchy of ‘intelligence’.

I used to feel so sorry for the child but also I was terrified to go near him for fear of ‘catching’ this sleeping disease. I felt sorry for him because he could not have been [Read more…]

Culture is not an excuse to perpetrate injustice; LGBT Rights are about Human Rights not Culture.

As part of the celebration marking Black History/LGBT Month, I was interviewed by  Tundun Adeyemo, presenter of the program ‘Outspoken’ BookCoverImage new vistaon www.africaukradio.com. Below is a text of the interview, also available on her blog.

October is Black History/Lesbian Gays Bisexual Transsexual Month. In parts of London, people have been marking this in various ways. To help us give that some perspective is author Yemisi Ilesanmi who joins us from London to talk about her book and why homosexuality is not just an European concept.

Hello Yemisi, Many thanks for joining us.

 1- You have written this book ‘Homosexuality is not unAfrican.’ Why did you write this book?

Thanks. I wrote this book to counter the erroneous impression that homosexuality is Un-African. This is a rhetoric that many African politicians keep sprouting in their bid to defend the discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and Transsexuals. With the upsurge of anti-gay bills springing up in many African countries, it became imperative to provide necessary information and create awareness on the issues of sexual orientation especially homosexuality and bisexuality. Information is power and education is key to human development.

In this digital age, where information is easily accessible, it is sad to know that many people especially Africans still fall for the homophobic, biphobic and transphobiic rhetoric that sexual orientation is a matter of choice. In the book Freedom to Love For All; Homosexuality is not Un-African, I put together a collection of my essays debunking the myths that Homosexuality is Un-African.

First, I started by clarifying the meaning of sexual orientation and providing accepted definition of the different kinds of sexual orientation and gender identity that we [Read more…]

Closets Are For Clothes; I Am More Than My Clothes: I Am Coming Out!

Today, October 11th, is National Coming Out Day! According to Wikipedia

 National Coming Out Day (NCOD) is an internationally observed civil awareness day celebrating individuals who publicly identify as a gender identity or sexuality minority. The day is observed annually by members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies on October 11

Whether you are Bisexual, Trans, Lesbian, Gay, or even Atheist, coming out of the closet is always often a difficult experience for many. Most Logo_ncod_lgtimes, it is a decision that subjects us to a lifetime of discrimination, isolation, ostracism, and judgements not just from the society but unfortunately, also from those we care most about i.e. our family members and friends.

For me personally, all the isolation, judgemental remarks, ostracism, discrimination or jail terms in the world are not enough deterrents to keep me in the closet about my sexual orientation or non-belief.

The Freedom to be me, Freedom to love, Freedom to express my love and shout it from on top mountains, Freedom to assert my sexual and gender identity, Freedom to proclaim my non-belief in religious nonsense etc. are things I will not trade for the safety of the closets.

I cannot and must not let my Freedom to be me be curtailed by people who rejoice in wallowing in ignorance and hate.

Closets are for clothes; I am more than my clothes. [Read more…]

Sensationalising the Plight of African LGBTs

I am often approached at LGBT events especially at protests rallies by filmmakers and journalists who want to write a piece or make a 04338_yemisi_ilesanmidocumentary on the ‘horrible’ situation of African Lesbians and gays (they hardly take cognizance of bisexuals and Trans).

There is no doubt that African LGBTs who reside in countries where their sexual orientation is criminalised face a daunting task. Living a closeted life or choosing to face the consequences of being out and proud in a society where one’s sexual orientation is criminalised is frightening and dehumanising. I have been there, I am still there, and I know how horrible the threats can be. So yes, I understand why the filmmakers and writers are fascinated with telling this horror story.

However, a recurring theme makes me cringe every time I am approached by filmmakers or journalists demanding that I tell the horror stories or at least provide them some graphic pictures of violence suffered by African LGBTs. There is this fascination with the horror stories and abused bodies of African LGBTs that I am beginning to wonder if it is a voyage into morbid porn and/or just another way to portray Africans as victims.

When I inform these filmmakers and journalists that I do not have pictures of abused African LGBTS to share with them, they are immediately crestfallen. It is my opinion that most of them haunt African LGBT activists protest grounds not because they are interested in the fight for African LGBT Rights but because they see the plight of African LGBTs as a way of furthering their career in Journalism or film industry.

A heart-wrenching, graphic documentary on the abuses suffers by African LGBTs and why African LGBTS need white saviours could turn a [Read more…]

Why I can’t be bothered to wish Nigeria a Happy 54th Independence Anniversary.

For the first time since I can remember, i cannot be bothered to wish Nigeria a Happy Independence anniversary. The sad part is that I feel 385935_186228838142571_185630604869061_319047_711932141_nindifferent about it. I am not angry, I am not excited, I am just indifferent. Am I finally bereft of any emotion for my once beloved country, Nigeria?

Too much is wrong with Nigeria and its people for me to care about whether it breaks up or stay together as one ignoramus, corrupt entity. The one thing i now only care about is our shared humanity. I hope no innocent lives will be further lost in whatever determines or is determining the present and future of Nigeria.

To think i once inhaled tear-gas, faced bullets and was ready to die for that country!  However, I take solace in the knowledge that my actions were not really for the country but motivated by my strong belief in inalienable human rights.

I marched on the streets and confronted the military junta because I believed and still believe in the right to determine who represent me in the seat of power as a Nigerian via the ballot box and not through military coups.

As a student union leader, in the face of oppression, detentions, and suspensions, I stood my ground to speak out against hike in school fees, cultism, and access to education for all. I remember vividly [Read more…]