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YNaija Editorial: Let us be clear, we totally – unequivocally – stand against the anti-gay law

Nigerian-Senate

Nigerian-Senate

We have to wonder when it became our culture imperative to marginalise, to victimise, to hate. To witch-hunt a particular section of the otherwise law-abiding population.

This one came upon us like a mist, the kind that brings no good, settling gradually over the general populace. Did he or did he not?

Confirmation, unfortunately, came from the president’s special adviser on media and publicity on Monday 13, January 2013.

Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, the Nigerian president, had signed the controversial Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill into law. Not surprisingly, it must be quickly be added. “This is a law that is in line with the people’s cultural and religious inclination,” the adviser, Reuben Abati, said. “It is a law that is a reflection of the beliefs and orientation of Nigerian people. Nigerians are pleased with it.’’

He is right. As Nigerians grapple with post-colonial identity disorders we have become uncomfortable with minorities, a people who have allowed ourselves be defined by bigotry. 98 per cent of Nigerians believe society should not tolerate homosexuality, according to a Pew Research Center survey from last year.

But then, he is also wrong. Dead wrong.

This is a bad law, and not just because it fails the tests of certainty, public interest and other important pillars of effective legislation. It is a bad law because it fails every test of human decency and dignity – violating the innate rights of Nigerian citizens simply because they are a minority.

In a nation where, some activists say, almost 10 per cent of the population is gay, Nigeria has outdone itself in the race to show its lack of respect for the human being, in passing through this law that brazenly discriminates against the right of association, expression and free movement.

It is unnecessary to state the obscenity in further discriminating against a people whose government has yet failed to provide security, basic infrastructure and other elements of baseline good governance. Even if Nigeria had intelligent lawmakers, a popular president and a crushing abundance of power, food security, and well-managed oil wealth, this law would still be unconscionable.

It is unconscionable in a country where Senator Chris Anywanu is still struggling to pass the Sexual Offences Bill. It should be inconceivable in a country where a majority of its states are yet to domesticate the Child Rights Acts. It is incredible in a country where 13-year-old girls are legally allowed to marry men thrice their age.

The arguments are obvious enough that they are tiring to recap: the logic of this bill, that of a homosexual epidemic galloping at us from the West is not just illogical, but silly. There are no legitimate mainstream scientific, social or economic justifications for any argument about the dangers of homosexuality on societies. History makes a solid case for both the legitimacy and appropriateness of same-sex relationships.

And, above all else, why is the suppression of homosexuals a matter of paramount national importance? Have gays and lesbians taken over the news wires with daily reports of deviant behaviour the way rapists and pedophiles have become an epidemic? Have the sexual choices of consenting adults derailed the achievement of our Millennium Development Goals, or the practice of pious and earnest religion?

It is unfortunate that not one legislator has made a lucid, logic-based case, on the facts, for this law. It is a shame that the presidential spokesperson could not speak with intellectual clarity of the justifications for this draconian law. No complex set of ideas have been expounded as normative context for this deeply dangerous legislation. All we have is drivel about cultural imperatives.

We have to wonder when it became our culture imperative to marginalise, to victimise, to hate. To witch-hunt a particular section of the otherwise law-abiding population. To call for a 14-year sentence for folks convicted of nothing other than legitimate sexual preference, to approve a 10-year spell for “a person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organisations, or directly or indirectly makes public show of same-sex amorous relationship in Nigeria’’. To make life unbearable not just for people who want to leave peaceful, peaceable lives as sexual minorities – but those of us who refuse to join in the hysteria of hate against them.

Already the consequences of legalising homophobia have begun. In Benin City, barely 24 hours after the bill was signed into law, alleged homosexual men were gathered and hunted down. And in Bauchi, dozens were arrested and shamed into naming accomplices in some form of plea-bargain. Another man was whip-lashed 20 times and police authorities have reportedly compiled a list of the city’s gay men with an intent view to punish. All of this by a police force famous for ignorance and prejudice so pervasive that three-quarters of Nigerian prisoners are being held without cause, according to the Nigerian Prisons Service.

Even more sinister is the 10-year jail sentence for show of public affection and association. This clause will broadly restrict access to health and counselling services for Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) citizens who, like any other person, have a fundamental human right to health and to life – in a country with the second highest global HIV/AIDS burden is totally unacceptable.

We will risk repeating ourselves – this is unacceptable.

No law, no country should discriminate against a people based on sex, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexuality or any prejudice. No law should trample on the dignity of citizens, to force conformity in a world that advances based on diversity.

We do not need the international community to tell us about the wrongness of this law – on social media, in newspaper columns, through prominent politicians and celebrities, it has been made clear; no, Dr. Abati, not all Nigerians are pleased with this law.

What we need to be having now, like any evolved society, is an open conversation about sexual diversity. Instead of hounding the LGBT community, we need to remember that they are human beings with a legitimate right to exist. In a country where it is almost a death sentence to be gay, we must approach with compassion and empathy the fact that difference is the essence of the world as God created it. And it cannot be right, it cannot be true, it cannot be love to hate those who are our brothers, sisters, lovers, parents, friends, colleagues simply because we do not approve of the manner in which they have consenting sex. Until we remove the barriers of hate, we will never be able to see them for what they are; the same as us.

And at a time of despair, such as this, as to the nature of country and humanity, and as a response to those who would religion as a crutch for hate, it becomes important to listen to His Holiness Pope Francis; overseer of the largest congregation of Christians worldwide. “Who am I to judge a gay person of goodwill who seeks the Lord?” he asked at the World Youth Day celebrations in Brazil last year. “You cannot marginalise these people.”

Martin Luther King Jr assures us that the moral arc of justice might bend ever so slowly, but ultimately it will bend towards justice.

In the meantime, we will continue to do our bit to fight this unacceptable law. We will continue to actively and aggressively make our rejection known, clearly and insistently, until our country finds its way – back to the right side of history.


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Comments

  • The more we keep on talking about this Gay of a thing in Nigeria,the more we are moving forward toward sighning in for it,it has been against,forget about any comment and let’s move for another issue facing Nigeria.But believe me any persoon that keep talking about this filthy and disgusting thing of a gay,is truely a gay guy,never listen to them cause they are making it well known to be legalise.

    Bachal Markus January 17, 2014 2:32 pm
    • Learn how to write first. Your point would be better made in English.

      Anti-Anti-Gay Laws January 17, 2014 8:43 pm
      • I’m sure you took away what he was trying to convey. Does he need to have your level of education to have an opinion? and…he is right! truth hurts but the majority of citizens in Nigeria if a survey were to be conducted are in favour of a law banning gay marriage. it’s a democracy, lets move on.

        chi708 January 18, 2014 7:32 am
        • You are quite silly. If majority of Nigerians said Sharia Law it is what would you say? You cannot persecute a group because you don’t understand them. All these gay bashers are the same people that chase underage girls, sleep with other’s wives etc. I am disgusted that draconian views are being espoused by selfish individuals who only think about themselves. As long as Nigerians are willing to disown their offspring for being gay we will always have idiots who think you can turn a gay man or woman straight by jailing them. 14 freaking years!!!! These leaders should go and hang for hoodwinking the public.

          Chookz January 18, 2014 11:37 am
          • Yes 14 years! Scary right lol, prayer is what you need so you can accept the wholesome sweetness of pussy instead of what I’m sure you find more appealing.

            kome ovo January 19, 2014 9:38 am
          • yes, praying to an invisible fairytale god rather than dealing with reality makes a lot of sense… instead of reading some silly old book white missionaries forced unto you in the last century how about using your own intellect and educate yourself a little bit for a change??

            giddeon_boot January 19, 2014 2:56 pm
      • You made a sound case against discrimination; let the man spell the way he chooses. You gay right people are always so eloquent and convincing, little wonder how the devil got Eve to eat that apple. Does public nudity affect the economy? Why is it illegal? Does smoking weed in any way affect the economy or wellbeing of this country? Why is it illegal? Is polygamy not a right amongst consenting adults? Why is it illegal in most of the west from whence this liberalization of faggotry sprouts? In my opinion as a jurist and naturalist a good law must have a solid moral base and natural base; as as shepherd how do you cope when all your male cattle or sheep starts cavorting with each other and refuse to touch the females would that look natural to you? Lest we forget the HIV virus was first noticed in the early 80’s amongst gay men, so tread careful when next you want to stick your dick in your partners yanch.

        kome ovo January 19, 2014 9:34 am
  • Uzochukwu wrote: Am surprised that a human being created by God will wake up one day and kick against this law! The international community and who ever that is against this law is devilish! Let me ask the writer one question. Are U aware that drug related cases attracts death penalty in some country? Have U kicked against this law that kills people because they chose to smoke cocain which does not affect the country in anyway? Again if ur parents were gay, would they have given birth to You? And as Christians, We are told that God created Adam and Eve and not Adam and Joseph! We should all rise and support this law that tends to destroy the future of our Children! I know that if I pray that all the Children of the writer should be Gays and Lesbian, he will shout God forbid! The only way to stop this act is to make a law like this! If U want to continue being a guy, go to other countries that allows it!

    My response: I am so sick of this idiotic question: “if your parents were gay, would they have given birth to you?” How obtuse! How ignorant can people get? If my parents were gay, yes, they probably would still have given birth to me, possibly through a surrogate mother in the case of men and with a sperm donor if they were lesbians! Wake up! Read! Educate yourself! And if they chose not to have kids, I wouldn’t exist. And you know what? I wouldn’t care because I wouldn’t know that I didn’t exist.

    And this Adam and Joseph thing. FFS! Get off the cliche train and say something original. How exactly does this law stop your children from being destroyed? Are poor education and poor healthcare services not likely to do that more effectively?

    When the time comes and a member of Uzonchukwu’s family is wrongly accused or arrested based on this new law because he is gay, he will begin to understand the injustice of it. Don’t worry, it’s all coming to a cinema near you, you’ll see.

    Ellesse January 17, 2014 5:36 pm
    • So are you satanic folks gay in order to address the other social problems that Nigeria has? Is the gay thing ok just because our leaders are found wanting in other areas of governance? Is your gay rights an automatic assurance of world class infrastructure? Better education? Security et al?

      Teem January 23, 2014 10:11 pm
  • I think the dumbest question on the gay issue is, if your parents were gay would they have given birth to you? Well, if my parents were sterile, or if my parents had entered the convent, they would not have given birth to me either. Some people are just irredeemably stupid.

    ANTI anti-gay law January 17, 2014 6:13 pm
  • We do not need reams of excuses or Justification for this despicable bill. Just look at past history. Discriminate against Jews = HOLOCAUST (4 Million Jews gassed and Murdered)
    Apartheid in South Africa = We all know the strife that that caused. GROW UP and learn from the past. Pass Hate Laws and one Day some-one will pass a law Hating You!!!! Maybe for Just being BLACK. We are all sinners. No one has the right to play GOD or Judge Gays !!!! .

    Dougpta January 17, 2014 9:58 pm
  • May we find our way soon. Uncle Jona mennn, how could you do that? You know and I know that you don’t even believe the shit you signed. Lol.

    Tosin Otitoju January 18, 2014 5:22 pm
    • It’s not “gay” but homosexual. abomination!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Fab January 18, 2014 9:18 pm
  • Can any of these pro-homosexual tell me that his father married his father or his mother married his mother to give birth to him?

    Fab January 18, 2014 9:20 pm
  • I agree with this article completely, but I think it is missing some key points as to why the law is wrong.

    First of all let me say I am a Nigerian!

    Most of the commentary that I have seen from Nigerians online (supporting the bill) does not seem to understand the separation between morality and religious conviction and THE LAW. The real issue at hand is NOT whether homosexuality is a sin,
    abomination, taboo, unAfrican or whatever else people have been calling it. If
    you think it is, that is your business. In fact it is even your right! (Rights
    are important – HINT).

    The question is whether the state – GEJ, senators, police,judiciary etc – has the right to
    intervene in the private, consensual behaviour of adults? The answer in a secular state like Nigeria is NO! And ALL NIGERIANS should support constitutionally limiting the powers of the state, even if they don’t support homosexuality.

    To put it in simpler terms for anyone who refuses to get it: according to Christianity and Islam (the main religions in Nigeria that people are invoking) adultery is a sin and so is fornication. These things are probably also considered wrong according to so-called traditional African morality. BUT who here thinks the police (corrupt useless Naija police o) should be able to arrest people who commit adultery and fornication? Who here thinks you should go to jail or court for these reasons? OR who here
    thinks these are private issues to be dealt with between people personally – and
    their conscience, their God, their families, their spouses, their church???
    Yep, thought so.

    Also, the law is wrong because it limits the free assembly and speech of Nigerians. In fact it is unconstitutonal on these grounds. Nigerians have the right to express their opinions and to gather with others who share their views, as long as they are not inciting violence or hatred. And guess what, the law is also very wrong because IT
    IS INCITING VIOLENCE AND HATRED. How can any responsible government do
    this? Imagine if the law was against Igbo people or Yoruba people, how would
    you feel then? OR imagine if it was against people who are anti-gay? How would
    you feel then? Oh yes I just remembered THE NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT IS NOT RESPONSIBLE!!!!

    Please fellow Nigerians let us understand the real issues and stop the
    state and our USELESS AND MORALLY BANKRUPT POLITICIANS from abusing their power and infringing on our very basic and fundamental rights. If you don’t support homosexuality that is your business, but as a Nigerian citizen you must support the protection of our individual and collective rights.

    D January 19, 2014 6:56 pm
    • To start with NO ONE is a ‘NIGERIA’, unless you are a unrepentant fraudster/terrorist!
      Now your logic of ‘consensual behavior of adult’ doesn’t make any logical sense, if you can only point to few out of the million inversion of so-called governments especially in ‘developed world’ (Those that claim to know it all). Why is it that they ban people (Not only in their countries but everywhere) from freely using the ‘grass/drugs’ of their choice, or allow adults to live polygamous etc.., yet want to claim ‘human rights’ to what 99% of Africans considers abomination?
      The mentality of swallowing everything the ‘whiteman’ tell you is ‘right’ is not only the reason why folk like you will still shamelessly refer to themselves as ‘Nigerians’ a derogatory name given to the entity with nothing in common but forced at gun point to be ‘one fake country’!
      Wake up and smell coffee, this hypocritical support for insanity of ‘same-sex’, but not to condemn the already passed free child abuse act, or daily killings of Biafrans, is aimed at population control from backdoor!

      Naijabyforce January 20, 2014 5:47 pm
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