Last week, reports of the murder of a young Nigerian man from Imo state surfaced on the internet. The reports were based on a confessional video shared of two men who confessed to luring and murdering the person in question, motivated by their hatred for his sexuality. This is the first recorded death in 2020 of an LGBT person, though the Initiative For Equal Rights (TIERS) suggests that this is only one of several attempts (some successful) on the lives of LGBT persons living in Nigeria, a phenomenon that escalated following the signing of the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill into law by Goodluck Jonathan. In response to the reports, a hashtag #EndHomophobiaInNigeria was started, trending nationwide and bringing the cause of LGBT people to the fore.
This isn’t the first time people have been caught in the South East for targeting LGBT persons and seeking to either harm or exploit them. Studies suggest the numbers are much higher than is recorded. People aren’t reporting incidences of LGBT related violence or harassment because they are afraid of being outed to their families and communities. #EndHomophobiaInNigeria is a worthy first start, but until the fight is taken off social media and into places of power and influence, the battle is more likely to be lost and won.
Unless more people come forward with their stories and report to the appropriate authorities, we will have less evidence to prove that the SSMPA Bill is a violation of the fundamental human rights of Nigerians and challenge it in a court of law. It will also make it harder for law enforcement agencies to combat crimes of this nature, as perpetrators of crimes against LGBT persons are often career criminals who target people in this community because of their compromised state. Reporting their crimes keeps everyone safe in the long run.
If you aren’t sure how to go about it, TIERS is offering a paralegal helpline to talk you through the process of self reporting. We implore you to use it.
Hi Folks! I hope this photo is self explanatory but if it isn’t, please note that you can call the number in the poster if you’re in a situation where any of your human rights are being violated. Reporting gives you a better chance at getting help where needed. pic.twitter.com/8qEco0lHp4
— Alex The Laughing King (@FreeRed_) March 10, 2020