– Oludolapo Ige
For many Nigerians, the idea of homosexuality is simply unthinkable. In their minds there’s no argument, it’s an abomination, full stop, the conversation ends there.
But whether they like it or not, the conversation is just beginning. The LGBTQ community in Nigeria grows every day, not all of the community members are homosexuals or bisexuals, but people who stand with them. People with liberal mindsets are beginning to accept the idea that homosexuality shouldn’t be criminalised.
The restrictions surrounding the LGBTQ community in Nigeria circles around religious, cultural, and social constraints. Nigeria is majorly dominated by two religions, Christianity and Islam. Many Christians would tell you that it’s a sin, it’s ungodly. For them, homosexuality is an aberration and totally wrong. That opinions is similarly shared among Muslims.
Once you say you are a homosexual, you have totally departed from God’s grace, you need to repent and give your life to Christ so that you can make heaven. Some even try to pray and fast it away because homosexuality is a “demon,” a spirit that takes control of your body and make your commit unimaginable sins.
In the cultural hemisphere, homosexuality is also seen as an abomination. Some will tell you it’s not our culture to be gay, it is “Un-African” to be gay, homosexuality belongs to foreigners, to the white men. They make this argument even though we’ve accepted the white men’s culture, we’ve adopted their way of dressing, their language, their religion, even their way of eating. Many Africans have come out to debunk this notion, there is nothing cultural about being who you are and homophobes need to shed the chains of culture that shackles them. There are gays and transgender folks in Nigeria and these people are finding their voices.
In the Nigerian social hemisphere, the acceptance of homosexuality goes both ways because it’s a combination of religion and culture. With the current generation, generation Z, people tend to be more open minded about the acceptance of the members of the LGBTQ community as this generation tends to lean towards the ideas and belief of their favorite celebrities or social media stars.
An example of the people socially changing the narrative of the LGBTQ community is Bobrisky. A highly controversial Instagram celebrity who was once a man and prefers to be identified as a woman, she acts like one, dresses like one too, even with the makeup and the hairdo.
The Nigerian government passed the same sex marriage prohibition act (SSMPA) in 2013, condemning anyone caught in a same sex relationship or marriage to 14 years in prison. A decision that brought joy to many homophobic Nigerians and fear to the heart of the Nigerian LGBTQ community.
The LGBTQ community has invited us to open our hearts and minds to the fact that their love is not in fact different from others, and they are not abominations, they’re just people like everybody else. They should be treated with the same respect and freedom given to every other human being. They should have the right and freedom to be who they are and live their lives without fear, abuse, intimidation, persecution, attacks and victimization.
In 2019, Nigeria was labelled one of the most dangerous countries to be a homosexual, but it seems like there is a possibility for the generation z and social media to change the narrative of the LGBTQ community in the country.