by Joseph Sewedo Akoro
Homosexuality between men has been illegal in Nigeria for almost a century. And in northern Nigeria (no thanks to Sharia law), homosexuality between men and women is been criminalized with penalty up to death sentence. Hence this Bill is not dealing with that.
Exactly 7 months after my prediction that the President will sign the Bill into law, the Bill was indeed signed. I became less optimistic that the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill in Nigeria would not pass since its passage in June 2013 at the Senate. Recalling the article: “Will the Nigerian president assent the anti-gay bill?” my conclusion read that “I am unfortunately pessimistic about the bill not becoming law”. However, I expressed the hope that legal recourse could be sought.
In my almost a decade engagement in the advocacy for human rights, I have never been so frustrated and embarrassed like the last 48 hours. When the news of the signed Bill arrived- not that I was surprised, it appeared as a fake rumor- given that we are just resuming from yuletide season holidays and just resuming to business. The news read that the Bill was signed on Tuesday 7th January 2014, be it as I am, I began to think logically, forgetting that metaphysical forces are still very much in action in my country.
In my reflection: [News of the report by the harmonization committee dropped in the media on 30th December- the day the National Assembly went on recess. Okay, they should at least resume before they send the Bill to the President. Therefore, the Bill should get to the President in the first or latest second week of January. Okay, how can he sign the Bill into Law on the 7th January 2014? This can’t be true jor. The Nigerian press has started again! They don’t do proper investigation before breaking news. This can’t be true!] Meanwhile, emails had started dropping in mailbox like Belgian rain. Journalists, International activists, Friends were asking about the authenticity of the news, that was first received from a blog. My mother called as well. Although a blogger, I do not rely on news blogs and only enjoy reading blogs with opinions articles, hence at that instance, I disregarded the news. Shortly after, there were more indications pointing to the truth in the news that was first read on a blog, my belief quickened and I began connecting with colleagues. Indeed, the President signed the Bill, few minutes or hours it arrived at the Presidency. I smell a rat!
Proudly, Nigeria can now burst of a Law that prohibit same-sex marriage- Law that will appease Boko Haram and influence development that has been hindered by the immorality and evil act of those “bloody homosexuals”.
Certain points that I like to highlight are the following:
- Homosexuality between men has been illegal in Nigeria for almost a century. And in northern Nigeria (no thanks to Sharia law), homosexuality between men and women is been criminalized with penalty up to death sentence. Hence this Bill is not dealing with that.
- The marriage Act in Nigeria expressly allows for union between (1) Man and (1) Woman and only in the application of the customary law is polygamous heterosexual union made legal. In no way does it permit same-sex union.
- In my whole existence in life (26 years!), never did I hear of any Nigerian protesting to marry another person of the same-sex. Human rights groups of which I am part, only demanded for protection of the rights of persons who are gender non-conforming and those with homosexual tendencies. This is based on the fact that homosexual and other gender non-conforming persons are HUMAN by all standards.
- With my very modest travel experience in Nigeria (20 of 36 states), never did I hear about or by chance visit a gay “anything”. Neither a bar, nor a club!
- Gay association or organization? To my knowledge, none existed legally. Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) would not register any. CAUTION: NGOs serving “homosexuals” are not necessarily gay associations or organizations; they are either Human rights organizations or Health care service providers.
So what is this Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Law about?
- Victimization will extend from just the homosexuals to every persons associated with them. This implies that anyone with the slightest appearance or show of natural affection to person of same-sex albeit related, will be liable to imprisonment under this law.
- Friends or relatives who- for economic hardship in Nigeria, are forced to co-habit will be victims of blackmail and extortion.
- Impunity perpetrated by the Police will increase. All those Lagos boys wearing skinny jeans and shagging their pant. Ah! I shake my head.
- Heterosexual relationships will become more pathetic as there will be increase in forced marriages and practice of a double (fake) life. Homosexuals (men and women) will be sadly engaged to persons of the opposite sex and end in a very miserable relationship, many which will have a negative impact of their children- if they have any.
- As the campaigns for 2015 elections approach, politicians will be hunted with this law. In no doubt, this law will be used as an instrument of political blackmail.
- Families will suffer emotional turbulence (to mention a few).
While in no doubt, this Law seeks to further criminalize same-sex relationships in Nigeria, it is clear it will have greater impact on non-homosexual persons who are not used to living “sexually” restrictive life. Homosexuals have always being in the closet and they will continue to do so “conveniently” but unfortunately. In essence, this (Law) is not only detrimental to those “bloody homosexuals” but to the general citizenry. Thus let’s join forces to say NO TO HATE IN NIGERIA.
Joseph Sewedo Akoro tweets from @sewedo_akoro
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.