by Adewale Alabi
A lot of queer Nigerians encounter homophobic prejudice from family members and their community when they put their sexuality on display. Some are kicked out of their homes by the blood relatives that are supposed to love them unconditionally, while others who are allowed to stay at home tend to face a lot of pressure and antagonism which ultimately affects their mental health.
These issues have made queer people bring up conversations about safe houses for those who need shelter as a result of the violence they might receive because of their sexual preference. The need was exacerbated with the #EndSARS protests which left many queer people vulnerable. In light of this, some young Nigerians came together to help create and coordinate the activities of an LGBTQ+ temporary safe house during this protest period. The co-ordinators of the temporary safe-house are Mathew Blaise, Adaeze Feyisayo, Temmie Ovwasa, and Tobi Afolabi.
Their platform is called Safe House. On their Twitter bio, they tag themselves as “Temporary Safe Houses for Queer #EndSARS Protesters|Coordinators;”
The idea for the temporary safe house came to light because of the violence that queer people have had to endure during protests whenever they spoke out about queer rights. Reports of this were most visible in Abuja where queer protesters were attacked by other protesters who did not want them to fly their flag or carry any placard about the #QueerNigerianLivesMatter movement.
In a tweet about this violence Adaeze Feyisayo wrote;
“Another reason to be angry is the increasing reports of queer protesters being beaten, injured, their phones stolen by other #EndSARS protesters. Plus online homophobic harassment yesterday. You all should check your bigotry, fvcken oppressors”
On the 16th of October 2020, the Safe House opened its doors to queer Nigerians in need of temporary shelter. In a tweet they wrote;
“The #EndSARS protests ongoing in Nigeria has left many Queer Youth who experience police brutality vulnerable to more homophobic violence. We are providing temporary safe houses for Queer Protesters in Lagos & Accepting donations. DM to request a slot or donate. Retweet!”
The safe house will definitely do a lot to help the already struggling LGBTQ+ community in Nigeria.