Thursday, January 19, 2006

While the rest of the world moves forward

Nigeria takes a step backwards. Oh dear.

As CyBlug points out:
"Basically If you embezzle Billions you go to Jail for 6 months , but if your sexual orientation does not fit the norm in our society, you go directly to jail for 5 years (No Bail)"


Anonymous,  1:56 pm  

Pray tell Jeremey, What is so forward moving about allowing same sex marriages?

Anonymous,  2:22 pm  

I dont really know if I ever though Nigerian govt will allow such a marriage but prohibiting it does not mean it will not continue to grow as a lifestyle in Nigeria. It's like kerb-crawling issue in the UK - it has always thrive no matter how much the govt is against it and now there is a "plan to take sex off the streets and encourage mini-brothels".

Can Nigeria be rated as homophobic in any sense? I would rather not even think of the answer to that.

Though I do not swing in same-sex direction, I look forward to what the scene will be like in Nigeria in 7 years' time.

Anonymous,  3:09 pm  

When are they going to make polygamy (polygny and polyandry) legal in the UK? Now that would be a really 'forward thinking' society I suppose!

Homosexuality was practiced by a significant number of societies in the past. I cannot see what is so backward about rejecting it today, if that is what most people want.

Jeremy 3:34 pm  

Oh dear. It seems some brain-dead bigots have got hold of my blog to leave their anonymous comments. To the first comment:
1. One's sexual orientation should be considered a private affair. As long as one's sexual practices do not harm others, the State and the Law should not intervene. Any other view is backward, if not antediluvian.
To the second comment. Homosexuality is not a "lifestyle". Sexual orientation is largely genetic - people don't choose their sexuality (any more than they choose their ethnicity or racial origin). Comparing homosexuality to prostitution is neanderthal.

And yes, Nigeria is homophobic, from a legal perspective. The constitution outlaws homosexuality, as does the new Bill. This is a fact, not a matter of opinion.

Despite this, gays find their ways round the medieval bigotry. Many are married. Many politicians are gay (as is well known). The idea of being either "straight" or "gay" are western concepts that appeared in recent history - why should other societies want to strait-jacket themselves with concepts borrowed from Western modernity?

There is no way making gay union or same-sex practices illegal will make them go away - that is precisely what is so backward about today's news.

The trouble is, the current anti-rational form of evangelical christianity here, which rots the brains of Nigerians young and old, is alarmingly homophobic. How one squares hatred of gays with the basic Christian injunction to love thy neighbour is beyond me.

The third commentator is equally asinine in what they say. Societies do not practice homosexuality - individuals do. Or am I missing something: please tell me when and where there was a gay society (and how did they procreate?)

To the first question by the 3rd commentator, I repeat my first response: making pseudo-moral judgements on sexual practices should not be the concern of the State, so long as they do not involve harm to others.

Grace,  3:36 pm  

Notice that it is illegal for anyone to even protest for gay rights. Apart from the law banning same-sex marriage and gay priests, it is also setting a precedent that 'open' homosexuality is illegal. Let me translate that for people who do not yet understand: If you are a poor Nigerian with little money and power, you can be imprisoned for being gay. If you are a rich (or even middle-class) Nigerian with a closed family and inner circle, you can do whatever you please. This law is inhumane, Nigeria is a completely homophobic society, there is no question about that!

This is a setback in human rights & democracy in Nigeria. A lot of unconscionably privileged and educated Nigerians are busy enjoying the benefits of living in Western societies where laws protect them from overt discrimination and harassment. Yet we do not want this for our fellow nigerians because of our FEAR of homosexuality and "queerness". As long as gay people are brutalized, harassed, imprisoned, and yes killed (you know it happens) in Nigeria, our country will never thrive. The human rights you so easily take for granted in the U.S. and U.K. and the rest of Europe was completely engineered by women, by homosexuals, by the marginalized and the poor, by blacks. You have them to thank for all the anti-discrimination laws (and even the anti-discrimination sentiment) we love to use!

I really challenge people to ask themselves if a society that criminalizes and brutalizes the 'outsiders' and the weak, can ever be sustainable, prosperous or peaceful.

Anonymous,  8:10 pm  

Grace you are a woman/man after my heart. Many Nigerians (whether at home or abroad)are not aware of the implications of this law. It affects every single one of us - straight or gay, single or married. What next...

Teju Cole 9:01 pm  

Truly tragic news.

Nigeria, unfortunately, has more than its fair share of brain-dead bigots. A posting like this one threatens them.

I feel your pain Jeremy.

The hate has simply got to stop.

Anonymous,  10:03 pm  

As I read these postings, I am reminded of Public Enemy Chuck D's response to the question about the incitement to violence and hate in certain hip hop lyrics - 'We are the hate hate produced'. Are homophobes, children of hate? Is homophobic laws really our contribution to civilisation and humanity? I wonder and I wonder with much sadness in my heart. I wonder about the legacy we are bestowing on our children. I wonder about where we are heading to. I wonder.

Anonymous,  10:24 pm  

You have a lot to learn, my dear young man.

Anonymous,  7:14 am  

Jeremey, you are just not looking for the SILVER LINING in all this.
Now, when a woman wants to get rid of her abusive husband, just call the authorities when he passes out drunk with his best friends and declare them GAY! 5 years of freedom!
Don't like the president? Start talking about his homosexual tendencies... Look how he walks, clearly he is HOMOSEXUAL! (Now, Nigeria can lean on the rumour mill to overthrow the government, instead of paying for all those bullets and guns!)
Don't like how your history teacher graded you last paper? Just declare you saw her snogging another female teacher behind the school... Go old school with it, get a group of shrill friends to go along you with and pass out as you speak of their horrible crimes... namely that not only are the lesbians, but they tried to recruit you and your friends in the "woods" and they're witches too!
Tired of Dad's curfew? You saw him get it on with the next door neighbour Fabio look-a-like after doing copious amounts of drugs that they made you prostitute yourself for!
Don't like your tailor's last outfit he made for you... CLEARLY he is gay, as only gay men are into fashion... damn Western values! They told us it was a poverty alleviation scheme, but it was just a front to turn Nigerian men GAY!
Tired of the man at the market ripping you off? Just hide a butt plug in his fruits and veggies, and then call over the police to discover it! Stick around and watch the fun as he is carted away for 5 years!
See Jeremey, so many of Nigeria's problems can be rectified with this law... Clearly the fear of witchcraft has not been enough of an incentive to clean Nigeria up... If you need more great ideas, just look up McCarthy trials and Salam witch hunt on Wikepedia and don't forget the BIBLE or KORAN! They are always good for quotations out of context!

But if you insist on Pierre Trudeau's approach of "The state has no business in the bedrooms of its citizens", well I can't fault you for your limited vision of freedom...

Anonymous,  9:49 am  

I live in Nigeria. I am a happily married Christian (born again) and I am deeply deeply disturbed by this new law. The last post is totally spot on - this will lead to another witch haunt that we can already predict its outcome. I don't know whether I can continue to have my children grow up in this kind of environment, in this climate of fear and intolerance. This Law will not only affect gay people, Ait will affect all of us - those we love and those we hate!! None of us will escape this. I don't think the law makers have truly thought through the implication of this law.

This issue raises the question for me, where is the Nigerian feminist and gay movement? What are they saying about this?

The thing that gets me about the reasoning behind this law is the idea that only the Western world is entitled to desire. Now for me the legislation against desire goes right to the heart of what is wrong with Nigeria(ns) - we see desire as a luxury that only the west deserve and can afford. If we cannot desire, and desire differently, how can we bring about a new society. The birth of a new society surely must starts with desire. But then again, how can we expect from a nation who mostly breed with the absent of desire allow others to desire differently. Even the heterosexual desire that is supposedly normative, itself in this society is often not born of true desire - otherwise how can we explain the rate of brutality (whether physical or pyschic) that characterises so many heterosexual union in this country (and the world in general). We must continue to make desire and desiring supreme in our lives - Jesus death is born of deep desire to bring an end to injustice. In his day, it was the injustice of the Romans and in our days the injustice we experience in this country are too numerous. If we are truly children of god and we think the lord is on our side we'll not allow such pernacious law to continue.

I forget to say I am a man - a Nigerian who some thinks is effeminate. Say what you like after knowing this fact!

Grace,  5:30 pm  

@ the last "Anonymous", I am really convinced that homophobia and heterosexism are intricately tied to gender oppression and binary gender roles (i.e. patriarchy). I think the reason so many Nigerians (Men especially) are afraid of homosexuality is because they themselves are afriad of their own desires and their own bodies. Echoing the sentiments of the other "Anonymous" who spoke about desire, I think our society has little love for creativity, hence little love for difference. It's downright depressing. But at the same time, this seems to be a worldwide phenomenom, like I mentioned before the reason gay people in America have some rights is because they took it! not because Western society is especially loving towards them. The U.S. is as homophobic as Nigeria. The problem with Nigeria is that we don't even have basic laws in place (no matter how skeleton) to guarantee at least the right to stay out of jail, and the right to a police investigation of your murder. Therefore Nigerian society is a lot more violent and murderous towards the homosexual.

That is why human rights organizing and activism is so important. First let's make hate crimes illegal, let gay people be able to walk down the street without fear. Then we can start breaking into public dialogue (what a crazy idea! Public dialogue!) about patriarchy.

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