by Adewale Alabi
When queer related topics are discussed in Nigeria, many are quick to confirm that they are proud homophobes and that they are ready to ‘protect’ their land from the pollution of the western world. These same people, however, suddenly develop amnesia when they apply for visas to move themselves and their family to that same polluted west.
What usually changes? Why are they comfortable with wanting to move their family to countries with laws that protect queer people but preach hate and violence against the same people in Nigeria? In as much as it can be easily tagged as hypocrisy, it is pertinent to understand the psychology behind this train of thought.
Trying to do this of course brings up more questions. Do homophobic Nigerians understand that it’s a big irony to hate the culture of the west yet aspire to be there, seeing it as a dreamland of some sort? In as much as every nation has its issues, they are probably doing a lot of things right, including protecting the rights of minorities.
Nigeria does not seem to understand that all these things come together to make a better nation. It is not just telling our leaders to stop squandering money. Many are stifled in their creativity and the greatness they could bring to the nation is lost due to discriminatory laws against the rights of minorities.
Can this mind-set be changed with better economic opportunities? There is no proper answer to this, however, it is quite clear that Nigerians are drawn to countries in the west because of their better economic opportunities. Does this mean a better economy may lead to a better future for queer Nigerians? Maybe people are vested in how others live their lives because they have nothing to look out for in their own lives. Whatever the case may be, it should still be noted that we do not have to be the richest nation in the world for basic human rights to be respected.
Unfortunately, religion has also played a role in this weird thought process Nigerian homophobes possess. The same church where members are advised not to follow the evil traditions of the west is the same church that holds prayer and fasting sessions for members to easily gain visas to the said evil country.
It seems we are easily swayed by words in Nigeria, especially by those in power and leadership. Hence, the reason why it is important for the right people to gain access to leadership so that the right conversations can be had.