UK Black Pride 2016: Transforming Our Community

UK Black Pride was held on Sunday 26, June 2016 at Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, London, with the theme “Transforming Our Community”. It was a blast with positive vibrations, diversity and thousands of vibrant people.

It was such a joy to be at UK Black Pride, 2016. It was fun in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere with lots of foods and drinks to share, great music, great dance steps, lots of twerking and yeah, sexy, lovely people! LGBT BMEs do know how to party!

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Did someone say Why Black Pride?”

UK Black Pride mission statement states

UK Black Pride promotes unity and co-operation among all Black people of African, Asian, Caribbean, Middle Eastern and Latin American descent, as well as their friends and families, who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender.

The organisation is committed to producing an annual celebration of “Black Pride”, as well as organising a variety of activities throughout the year in and around the UK which also promote and advocate for the spiritual, emotional, and intellectual health and well-being of all related communities. Our aim is to foster, present and celebrate Black LGBT culture through education, the arts, cultural events and advocacy.

UK Black Pride has as part of its vision

Advocacy- We aim to raise awareness around the experiences of UK’s Black LGBT community and will advocate and make contributions to the general community from Black LGBT perspectives.

Growth – UK Black Pride is an organisation that fosters a positive ethos to ensure that Black LGBT talent and achievements are promoted. We will seek to accomplish our vision and in doing so will also attract others who see and want to be a part of this vision.

There were lots of LGBT BMEs talents who performed and took the UK Black Pride stage by storm.  Such talents would not have a shot to perform on the stage at the main London Pride event.

It is no secret that the main London Pride event is majorly run by white men who might not have an idea or refuse to understand how to better represent multiracial, multicultural, diverse London on London Pride main stage.

I love London pride and I hope as time goes on, its leadership would become more inclusive and more representative of the diverse LGBT community in London.

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While I always strive to attend London pride, march in its parade and join the entertainment at Trafalgar square, I feel so much more at home and relaxed at UK Black Pride.

Probably due to the colour of my skin and the assumption that I must be an immigrant or wandering tourist, I am often asked by random Pride attendees during London Pride parade if I was attending my first Pride parade. I don’t get such questions from people at UK Black Pride. I was not made to feel or treated consciously or unconsciously as an outsider.

UK Black Pride feels like home and it feels like family.  I can easily relate with the performers and entertainers on the stage. And the music. oh, yeah, it feels so good when popular African tunes blast from the stage and everyone screams and instantly starts doing a coordinated group dance. It is nostalgic and so beautiful. It feels so good to see Black Minority Ethnic lesbians, gays, bisexuals, trans and queers enjoy themselves with no reservation and with pure joy on their faces.

We need our black LGBT spaces. When racists, supremacists look down on us and cynically ask “Why Black Pride?”, I just say – Well, it’s because We Can and because We Rock It. Get It or Get Over It! 

Kudos to the Executive Director of UK Black Pride, Lady Phyll Opoku, and her lovely team for all the wonderful work and selfless service to our community. Thanks for not allowing the haters to get us down.  Solidarity forever!

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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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Macheted and Beaten to a Pulp for not Fasting: Happy Ramadan!

Just a few days after a 74-year-old woman was beaten to death by angry Muslim youths in Kano state, Nigeria, for alleged blasphemy, another similar incident with almost same fatal outcome happened in neighbouring Kaduna state. Francis Emmanuel, a 41-year-old man was attacked by irate Muslim youths for not observing the Ramadan fasting, even though he was not a Muslim.

Speaking from his hospital bed, Francis Emmanuel, a carpenter, reportedly said

I went to buy wood to do some work. When I came back I bought food to eat. As I was eating about six Hausa boys came and asked me whether I am a Muslim or a christian. I did not answer them. They asked why am I not fasting? I told them that I am not a Muslim.

“Before I knew it, one of them slapped me. As I stood up, the rest came and surrounded me and started attacking me with knives. I don’t know them. Nobody could come to my aid because of the type of dangerous knives they were carrying.
“They used cutlasses scissors and knives on me. I became unconscious, I don’t even know who brought me to the hospital.

Beaten unconscious for daring to eat during Ramadan period and he was not even a Muslim! Let’s be clear, even if he was a Muslim, he has the right to choose whether or not to starve himself to please his Skydaddy. No one should have the right or audacity to demand that another observe a religious rite.

In some parts of Northern Nigeria, we have had cases where people were beaten up for drinking alcohol even when they were not Muslims and therefore not bound by the Sharia Law.  Shops selling alcohol have been vandalised because …well, Sharia law. This descent into a state of lawlessly in the name of religion needs to be checked before it gets to a point of no return.

Is their precious Ramadan not supposed to be the “Holy Month of Peace”? Unleashing violence on people who chose not to fast while you starve to endear yourself to your sky daddy brings a whole new meaning to the saying “A hungry man is an angry man”.

Which is why I despair when we are told to be politically correct and wish our Muslims br407171_2699056189303_1043602147_2867789_1434976931_nothers and sisters a Happy Ramadan. Why on earth would I want to encourage people to starve themselves in the name of a Skydaddy?

Happy Ramadan indeed, I’d rather we rid the world of religion in all its barbaric forms.

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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…]

Planned Parenthood Clinic Shooting: Religious Assholes, Vile Politicians and Dipshit Media

In between the religions assholes causing havoc and the vile politicians eager to drop bombs on civilians, it is a CU5oEefUYAAkYmHwonder WW3 has not been officially declared!

I was out when I briefly saw the headlines for the Colorado shooting today; apparently, three people, including a police officer, have been confirmed dead and many more injured.

The shooter, now identified as Robert Lewis Dear, is a 57-year-old white man from North Carolina.

According to reports

“Lt. Catherine Buckley of the Colorado Springs Police Department said the gunman, described as wearing a long coat and armed with a rifle, gave up after officers inside the building shouted at him. He previously had been firing at police who entered the facility.

Buckley also said the unidentified man had brought “items” with him inside the building and left some outside, meaning officers had to make sure they were not “any kind of devices.”

“The man apparently began his deadly spree at the Planned Parenthood building, although it was not clear if his motive was related to the organization.

“We don’t have any information on this individual’s mentality, or his ideas or ideology,” Buckley said.

Interesting how they are not eager to jump to conclusions about this shooter’s ideas and ideology. This is white cis [Read more…]

BeingFemaleInNigeria: The viral hashtag, the tweets and my take on it

#BeingFemaleInNigeria is a hashtag that went viral in Nigeria just barely hours after it was first tweeted by members of a small book club. The hashtag started trending in many countries including UK. I would have loved for the hashtag to read ‘BeingaWomanInNigeria’ because the word ‘Female’ has its own social construct problem. However, i am over the moon that this very important conversation, which got the whole nation talking, was started by a very small book club.

The book club members had gathered to read their book of the month, an essay titled ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ by Nigerian award winning author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. According to a member of the book club, Florence Warmate, the discussion got very interesting and members started sharing their personal experiences of sexism in Nigeria. They decided not to leave it there but start a conversation on social media about what it is like being a woman in Nigeria.

Florence Warmate posted her first tweet on the subject using the agreed hashtag #BeingFemaleInNigeria. Hours later, it was trending on twitter. It was interesting that a small group of women could ignite a national discussion via social media in a matter of hours. Clearly, it was a discussion Nigerian women (and some men too), were dying to have. [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…]

“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…]