Don’t Call Me A MAN, It Is Not A Compliment. Happy International Women’s Day!

“Man is defined as a human being and a woman as a female – whenever she behaves as a human being318461_10150505434059409_883031157_n she is said to imitate the male.” Simone de Beauvoir.  As we celebrate International Women’s Day, the words of Simone de Beauvoir ring loud in my ears.

As someone who became fiercely politically active as a young woman in a very patriarchal society, I was often ‘showered’ with the words “You are a man!” It was considered the highest praise you could give a woman for her bravery and courage while referring to a man as a woman is considered a below the belt insult. If only I had a penny for every time I heard these words from my fellow comrades, colleagues and mentors who actually should know better.

Please understand that calling a woman “a man’ because of her achievements or courage is NOT A COMPLIMENT. Those words are nothing but an insult to the woman, her achievements and gender identity. You do not honour me by calling me “A Woman like a Man“, in fact with such words you deny my gender identity and degrade my biological sex. I am a Woman and Proudly so.

We are all HUMANS irrespective of what the various creation myths say. Women demands recognition and respect as human beings. Brave and courageous women achievers do not need to be called A MAN as a compliment. Being called “A MAN” does not elevate us to the level of human beings; we are already human beings irrespective of our sex or gender identity.58427_436067596481409_1920683597_n

Kindly recognise and respect my gender identity, this I believe is not too much to ask!

As we celebrate more than a decade of International Women’s Day, feminisation of poverty continues; Reproductive, Productive and Domestic roles still hold down the working woman from reaching her full potentials. The triple oppression of Racism, Classism and Sexism persistently  affect our unity. Let us continue to fight all the Isms and Schisms that jeopardise our strength.

The degree of emancipation of women is the natural measure of general emancipation. Every society’s greatness can be measured by the way it treats its most vulnerable members. Every human being is born equal in rights and dignity.

You do not have to be a woman to support woman’s rights.

You don’t have to be gay, bisexual or Trans to support LGBT rights.

You don’t have to be a sex worker to support sex workers’ right to organise, unionise and work in a safe environment.

You don’t have to be an animal to support animal rights.

And in case the aliens ever invaded, let’s hope you don’t have to be a human being to support human rights. We all could be in the minority sometime!1982_438044192955887_307874593_n

Stand up against oppression of women, stand up for equal rights, empower a woman today, emancipate yourself from mental slavery and DEMAND your inalienable human rights! No human being is born subordinate to another. No woman is born to satisfy a man, you are born to create and define your own ‘destiny’, even in the face of all odds. Your happiness is supreme.

Fellow sisters, assert your right and recognition as human Beings!

Happy International Women’s day to you all!

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...]

Dear friend, I’m going to prison. Protest rally against Nigeria’s Anti-LGBT Law.

Nigeria demo 1 - 14 Nov 11Dear friend,

I’m just writing to say goodbye.

I’m going to prison,

for 14 years,

for being gay

and Nigerian.

And if you associate with me, or don’t report me, whether you are straight, gay or bisexual, you face 10 years too… [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...]

Venting my concerns over Nigeria’s new Anti-LGBT Law

If only I could physically slap some sense into the hypocrites parading themselves as Nigerian lawmakers and the ignoramuses who are celebrating the ‘Jail the Gays’ bill! They had better be warned, the battle line has been drawn. Logic will supersede their infamous ignorance and Love shall triumph over their hate. Enjoy the TV interview.

 

Stupid, homophobic arguments in support of Nigeria’s ‘Jail the Gays’ law:1-The West should legalize polygamy before they impose gay agenda on Africans!

It is no longer news that Nigeria’s president, Goodluck Jonathan, has signed the ‘Jail the Gays’ bill into law. The Same Sex Marriage Prohibition law stipulates a 14 years jail term for same-sex marriage and 10 years imprisonment for public show of same-sex affection. The legislation stipulates a 10 year imprisonment for anyone who aids, abets or witness same sex relationship or marriage. The law also imposes a 10 year jail term on human rights defenders who advocate for LGBT rights or DSC_0951 newhold meetings to promote LGBT rights.

Ever since the news broke, homophobic Nigerians have been celebrating the so called ‘bravery’ of their clueless president, for what they see as ‘standing up to the western imperialists’, whom they alleged want to impose the ‘gay agenda’ on Africans.  Many of those homophobes especially religious Nigerians, have been coming up with some of the most ridiculous excuses for supporting the ‘Jail the Gays’ law. Of course, there can be no reasonable excuse to support 14 years imprisonment based on sexual orientation or for holding meetings to discuss the human rights of Minorities.

No reasonable, rational and decent person would support depriving any human of their basic human rights including the Freedom of Expression, Freedom of Association and Freedom from discrimination, Freedom from torture, Right to privacy and Right to found a family. It is not surprising that some of those anti-LGBT remarks are not just ridiculous; they are plain stupid, bigoted and have ignorance at their very heart.

I will address some of those remarks under different posts which I will catalogue under the title and tag ‘Stupid, homophobic arguments in support of Nigeria’s ‘Jail the Gays bill’. I will kick-start this with the comment below which unfortunately was made by my good friend and comrade. This particular self-righteous indignation has been rearing its ugly head in many discussions. It has been raised by those who think it justifies signing the ‘Jail the gays’ bill. So let’s tackle it.

THE US AND UN SHOULD SHUT UP!!!!!!!!!! WHY DONT THEY ALLOW THOSE WHO WANT TO BE POLYGAMOUS, HAVE THEIR RIGHTS IN THEIR OWN VILLAGE?

1- I am assuming this is a cultural comparison because of the reference to polygamy. If you are making a “Homosexuality is not [Read more...]

Nigerian LGBTIs in Diaspora condemns signing of the ‘Jail the Gays’ bill.

PRESS STATEMENT – Nigeria’s ‘Jail the Gays’ legislation is a blatant violation of fundamental human rights of Sexual minorities and every Nigerian.

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1185423_697419426957087_459234855_n NEWJanuary 15, 2014-  Nigerian LGBTIs in Diaspora Against Anti Same-Sex Laws unequivocally condemns the signing into law of the draconian Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition bill by President Goodluck Jonathan.

Nigerian Lawmaker unanimously passed the ill-thought out draconian bill earlier in 2013 and sent the harmonized version of the bill to the president for assent on 30 Dec, 2013. The bill was reportedly signed by the president on 7 January 2014. [Read more...]

Gay Cameroonian, Roger Jean-Claude Mbédé, imprisoned for sending love text message to same-sex person, dies.

This is so depressing! Roger Jean-Claude Mbédé, the Cameroonian who was imprisoned for sending a text message declaring his love for another man, has died on Friday 10 January, in Cameroon.1526673_680845678602390_1820419341_n

He was sent to prison in March 2011 for sending a text message declaring his love for another adult human.  The message was a simple “I’m very much in love with you”. How does such a message constitute harm? Why should this lead to imprisonment?

Cameroonian activist, Lambert Lamda, said Mbédé had been out of hospital for about a month before he died and had received no medical care during that period.  ‘”His family said they were going to remove the homosexuality which is in him. I went to see him in his village. He could not stand up, he couldn’t speak.

This is a sick society. What the heck are my fellow Africans doing to their brothers and sisters? Is condemning your flesh and blood to death for loving someone of same-sex your cherished African family values?

Why are those ignorant, hateful homophobes hell-bent on punishing us for loving another adult human being? Why are they bent on criminalizing our love? In the midst of all the suffering, hardship, poverty and wars, how could love be a crime? How does our love harm you or the society? [Read more...]

My New Year Resolution

I am not one for New Year resolutions, but I do believe in learning from the lessons of the previous year to make the New Year a better year. 481866_543604339002200_820756368_n

They say if life serves you lemons, make lemonades. Well, while I appreciate this point of view, I think in 2013, I tried to apply it to something that it really should not apply to; Friends.

If life serves you lemons as friends, if you don’t like lemons, do not attempt to make lemonades of these friends. It never works out. If you don’t like lemons, stay the heck away from lemons. If they jump on your laps, put them in their place, locked in the cupboard or better still, bin them.

The truth is, I am very allergic to ignorance, especially homophobic, superstitious ignorance. I also hate hypocrisy with a passion. Therefore when people I care about exhibit such traits, I have this piercing feeling in my heart and a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Unfortunately, 2013 brought too much of these ‘piercing and sinking’ feeling, caused by people I care about.  Willful ignorance makes me want to vomit and hypocrisy painfully pierces my heart. [Read more...]

Nigerian and Ugandan Lawmakers: The Passing of the Anti-Homosexuality Bills

Ugandan Parliament’s idea of putting Christ back in Christmas was to present LGBT Ugandans with a gift of life Imprisonment! The parliament has now passed the anti homosexuality bill that was first presented before the house in 2009. i

In April 2009, the Ugandan Parliament passed a resolution allowing Member of Parliament (MP) David Bahati to submit a private member’s bill in October to strengthen laws against homosexuality. The bill was proposed on 13 October 2009 by David Bahati.

According to its sponsor, it is based on the foundations of  “strengthening the nation’s capacity to deal with emerging internal and external threats to the traditional heterosexual family“, that “same sex attraction is not an innate and immutable characteristic”, and “protect[ing] the cherished culture of the people of Uganda, legal, religious, and traditional family values of the people of Uganda against the attempts of sexual rights activists seeking to impose their values of sexual promiscuity on the people of Uganda”

The legislation strengthens the criminalization of homosexuality in Uganda by introducing the death penalty for people who are considered serial offenders, are suspected of “aggravated homosexuality” and are HIV-positive. People who are caught or suspected of homosexual activity will be forced to undergo HIV tests; Ugandans who engage in same-sex sexual relations outside Uganda will likewise fall under the jurisdiction of this law, and may be extradited and charged with a felony.

Furthermore, the bill requires anyone who is aware of an offense or an offender, including individuals, companies, media organizations, or non-governmental organizations that support LGBT rights, to report the offender within 24 hours. If an individual does not do so he or she is also considered an offender and is liable on conviction to a fine or imprisonment up to three years.

The original bill stipulated the death penalty for same-sex relationships. The bill generated international outcry, US President Barack Obama described the bill as “odious,” while some European countries have threatened to cut aid to Uganda if the bill becomes law. The death sentence for homosexual behaviour was later amended to life imprisonment.

Ignorance is not an excuse to deny others the same right you enjoy as human beings. The combination of ignorance and hate is indeed a deadly weapon of mass destruction. Hate kills and African lawmakers seems to breed it in abundance.

Nigerian National Assembly also proposed a similar bill in 2006 known as the Anti Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition bill . and The National Assembly passed the bill earlier this year, but like the Ugandan bill, it is waiting for the President’s assent to turn it into law. The Senate on 18 December, 2013 unanimously adopted the report of its conference committee on the ‘Jail the Gays’ bill.

Nigerian Senate President, Senator David Mark called for the President to urgently sign the bill into Law.  ‘The earlier we sign it into law, the better. [Nigeria] have many shortcomings, we don’t want to add this one to it.’  Senator David Mark stated this in his usual pompously ignorant manner.

According to him, “The law against same-sex marriage is an approval of the wishes of the generality of Nigerians who are desirous of living within our cultural bounds. “The law is not designed to infringe on the human rights of Nigerians in any way.” Hmm, David Mark probably does not consider Nigerian Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Trans as Nigerians or even Humans.

Nigerian and Ugandan Legislators have confirmed that they are all a bunch of ignorant fools and are part of the problems dragging the African continent backwards. Uganda has also earlier this week, passed an Anti-Pornography Bill, which bans miniskirts and sexually suggestive material such as some music videos. It seems violating the rights of its citizens are what most African parliamentarians termed as keeping with tradition! For how long shall innocent lives be the victims of ignorance, hate and power?

Uganda: Existing LGBT Laws

Homosexuality is currently illegal in Uganda as in many Sub-Saharan African countries, punishable by incarceration for up to 14 years. Under section 145 of the Uganda Penal Code, the act of sodomy is punishable by life imprisonment. (“Any person who (a) has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature . . . or (c) permits a male person to have carnal knowledge with him or her against the order of nature commits an offence and is liable to imprisonment for life.”). Sections 146 and 148 also further support this provision.

Nigeria- Existing Laws against LGBT PeopleDSC_0956

Under the Federal law in Nigeria, Homosexuality can carry up to a 14 year jail term. Under Shari’a law which has been adopted by 12 Northern states in Nigeria, Sodomy is a criminal offence which is penalize with death by stoning. This penalty is harsher than the penalty provided for Sodomy under the criminal code.

Chapter 42 of the criminal code, section 214, states that any person who “has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature” or “permits a male person to have carnal knowledge of him or her against the order of nature is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for fourteen years.”

The Penal code states: “Whoever being a woman engages another woman in carnal intercourse through her sexual organ or by means of stimulation or sexual excitement of one another has committed the offence of Lesbianism. … The offence is committed by the unnatural fusion of the female sexual organs and or by the use of natural or artificial means to stimulate or attain sexual satisfaction or excitement”

The penal codes have simply taken over the language of the British colonial provisions on “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” Although these laws were imposed during the British colonial rule, they have been adopted by Uganda and Nigeria in its post-colonial era.

Nigeria and Uganda obligations under International Laws

The adopted anti-homosexuality bills in Nigeria and Uganda contradict fundamental freedoms under Nigeria and Uganda Constitutions and also under international and regional human rights law and standards. Nigeria and Uganda are signatories to a number of international treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. However, like many other African Nations, both countries have not held their obligations under international treaties in high regard.

The legalization of Homophobia in most African countries has created an environment of fear amongst African sexual minorities.70612_100002673874449_24624348_s The Anti-homosexuality bills in Nigeria and Uganda, if signed into law would negatively impact on human rights records and activities in both countries. However, a positive outcome of these proposed legislation is that sexuality rights have been brought to the forefront for debates.  Topics that were once thought to be taboos are now subjected to debate in the public arena although the debates have been one-sided for fear of a possible backlash.

Although there has been a deafening silence from Nigeria left on the the Jail the Gays bill and LGBT rights, some Human rights organizations in Africa are beginning to come out in support of LGBT rights and are affirming that LGBT rights are human rights worthy of protection. This is a big step forward for the LGBT community in Africa because prior to the uproar generated by these proposed legislations, human rights organizations in African countries were reluctant to openly support sexual minorities.

Also, with the threat of the proposed anti-same sex bills, many human rights organizations, media and LGBT activists were educated on LGBT issues through organized seminars and workshops mostly organized by the international LGBT community in conjunction with local LGBT activists and human rights organizations.

The international community has been emphasizing that LGBT rights are human rights and in some instances some countries like United Kingdom and United States of America have threatened to cut off international aids to countries that are threatening to impose harsher legislative provisions to further discriminate against LGBT people.

However, a backlash flowing from the support of the international solidarity for the Gay community in Africa is the counter attack by some Africans especially politicians, who believe that this is just another mission of the west to control and impose its policies on Africa countries. This has led to resistance to any form of concession to LGBT rights.DSC_0951

It is not certain whether or not these adopted anti-homosexuality bills would be signed into laws in Nigeria and Uganda, however, the mere passage of such bills is detrimental to the rights of sexual minorities.

Last year, Uganda Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga said that the bill, which originally mandated death for some gay sexual acts, will become law before the end of Christmas. “Ugandans are demanding it,” she said.  It was however not passed last year, I guess Santa Claus was delayed somewhere in the North Pole!

Nigerian and Ugandan lawmakers, by passing the ‘Jail the Gays‘ bills have shown the world just how hateful, intolerant and bigoted they are. Their gift of hate to  Nigerian and Ugandans LGBTs is hugely supported by religious believers especially USA Evangelicals. Talk about putting Christ in Christmas! Really horrendous, I hope they choke on their hate-filled Christmas gift!

Related link- Trilogy: Debunking the African Homosexuality myths

Sex Workers Need Rights Not Rescue!

imageDecember 17th is International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. From a feminist and also a trade unionist perspective, I know supporting Sex Workers’ Rights is the logical thing to do.

As I wrote in my blog post ‘Organising Sex Workers Within Mainstream Labour Movement’,  the stigmatization and consequent exploitation of sex workers would be minimized if sex work is accorded its recognition as a bonafide job; a real job which has its challenges, rights and protections under the law like every other job. Criminalization of sex-work in many countries and jurisdictions makes it difficult to create a safe, enabling environment and workplace for sex workers.

The continued criminalization of sex-work, rather than serves as a deterrent has only succeeded in exposing sex workers to violence, intimidation, harassment and exploitation. [Read more...]

India and the Re-criminalization of Same-Sex Relationships

I was shocked and dismayed when I received the news that India has re-criminalized same sex relationships. On Dec 11, 2013, the Republic of India Supreme Court overruled the  2009 landmark decision of the High court. Although I wGay rights activists display a rainbow flag during "Queer Pride March" in New Delhias aware that the 2009 victory has been challenged in the court by some religious bigots and politicians, I thought the Judiciary has made remarkable progress in human rights and wouldn’t think to take such a step backward.

In 2009, the Indian High Court ruled that the 19th-century provision of the penal code that prohibits people from engaging in “carnal acts against the order of nature” should not apply to consenting adults, including same-sex couples. Religious groups challenged the ruling, claiming that homosexuality is a Western import that hurts Indian society and family values.

The 2009 High court decision in favour of consensual same sex adult relationships had put India on a high pedestal in regards to the defense of sexual minorities’ rights. I did not think the Supreme Court was going to reverse the outstanding judgment.  In fact I did not think there could ever be a good reason to reverse a decision which condemned discrimination and supports equality for all. But it just did. [Read more...]

The Dictators Are Not Only Those

The Dictators Are Not Only Those…A poem dedicated to a dear friend COMRADE OLAITAN OYERINDE. He was assassinated on May 4, 2012 at about 2am at his residence in the Government Reservation Area, Benin, Nigeria.

At the time of his death, he was the private secretary of the Governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. He was also the deputy secretary of Nigeria Labor Congress. Olaitan Oyerinde was a bright young life lost to Nigeria’s ‘do or die’ dirty politics. [Read more...]

Adieu, Nelson Mandela; the Great Madiba!

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Nelson Mandela was probably the first name I ever associated with Human rights during my childhood. His relentless struggle against apartheid nurtured in me the fire against injustice. I identified with his struggle for Freedom and Equality; he was my human right hero and a living lesson in compassion and forgiveness. To me, the name ‘Mandela’ was  (and still is) synonymous with anti-apartheid, defiance against injustice, fight for equality and a passion for justice. It later became synonymous with Forgiveness. [Read more...]

Blackface Is Not OK For Halloween Or Any Other Occasion!

Blackface is not OK for Halloween, it is not OK for your themed parties and definitely not for dressing up as a mal-jolsonurdered black teenager! I can’t believe we still have to educate some white people on why black face is never OK.

It is surprising that even some supposedly progressive white friends on social media think their black friends are being oversensitive about Blackface. Any friend of mine who hits me with the bullshit  “Don’t be too sensitive about racism” will get not just a mouthful of sensitive words but also get lectured, if not immediately booted out.  If knowing the history of Blackface, you still choose to find and justify some ‘good’ intent behind it, you really need to check your privilege.

For those who still do not know the origin of Blackface or who want to live in denial, please do your research on the history of Blackface before you don your racist Halloween costume or defend those who think Halloween is not complete without Blackface. [Read more...]