Last year’s protests against police brutality, under the banner of the #ENDSARS movement, pushed against several injustices and human rights violations experienced by Nigerians. Commended for its decentralised organising framework, it called for participation and solidarity unless you are a member of the LGBTQ community of course. And this was what marred a protest movement that began so well, seeing the humanity in all Nigerians.
At some protest grounds, LGBTQ Nigerians witnessed homophobic exclusion, vilified for trying to hijack the demonstrations with their rainbow flags, insignias and placards. Same thing happened online, LGBTQ Nigerians bullied for daring to voice how they were also victims of police brutality. Often, this is the rhetoric – that liberation for queer people shouldn’t be given priority yet because Nigeria is still plagued by under-development, that queer people treated equally and accorded social protection is too much of a civil concern.
The #ENDSARS movement didn’t show solidarity to queer people who are oppressed on double fronts, only choosing to be selective about who should be seen as human. In Myanmar, however, where an uprising ensued to restore democracy after a military coup recently took place, the country’s LGBQT population have found inclusion in youth protests, according to a TIME report. After its general election which Ms Suu Kyi‘s NLD party won by a landslide, there was a military takeover under the guise that the elections wasn’t free and fair.
Ms Suu Kyi was under house arrest while military commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing seized power. The country has since been engulfed in protests, leading to a number of casualties and others injured. While LGBTQ people in Myanmar aren’t faced with the hostilities and exclusion arising from homophobia as they protest alongside the larger populace, it doesn’t mean that homophobia in the country has disappeared. The country’s homophobic laws and discriminatory policies are surely still in place, but many people are beginning to ”see each other as humans regardless of sex, gender, religion or other factors” says Ye Linn, a LGBTQ activist in Myanmar.
Not so with Nigeria, though. The fight against oppression shouldn’t exclude the queer people and if there’s anything the #ENDSARS can learn from the pro-democracy protests in Myanmar, it is that we aren’t free until everyone is free.
Featured image: Akintunde Akinleye
When Bernard Dayo isn’t writing about pop culture, he’s watching horror movies and reading comics and trying to pretend his addiction to Netflix isn’t a serious condition.