When we discuss human rights, especially for people in minority communities, it is hard to have a robust conversation without referencing The Initiative For Equal Rights (TIERS). TIERS has been at the forefront of many important conversations, documenting human rights abuses because of gender and sexuality, pushing for legislature that challenges injustices against minority groups and doing the difficult work of documenting attitudes towards gender, ethnic and sexual minorities.
Since Nigeria launched the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill (SSMPA) in 2014, research from TIERS has shown a marked increase in harassment targeted by LGBT persons targeted by the bill. One form of harassment that has specifically increased has been incidences of conversion therapy.
Conversion Therapy refers to all attempts to change a person’s sexual identity through external influence like rituals and prayer. Religious conversion therapy is the most common form of conversion therapy practiced in Nigeria with churches and mosques offering varying version of therapy with a focus on forcing a person to renounce their sexual identity. It has been banned in many countries but is allowed in Nigeria and the new research project TIERS is embarking on will focus on the frequency of this form of torture in Nigeria and try to map out its short term and long term consequence.
Hello folks! We are looking for people to serve as community organizers for our ongoing Conversion Therapy Research.
These people will serve as local contacts within the states they reside in Nigeria excluding Lagos and Abuja.
— The Initiative for Equal Rights (@TIERsNigeria) February 18, 2020
They need help with volunteers across the country who have either personally experienced some form of conversion therapy or are willing to find respondents who participate in the research surveys that will inform the eventual report. Research of this nature will help TIERS influence legislation to protect the rights of people who are subjected to this form of forced conversion and punish people who impose it on minorities who cannot consent.