Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Gay Rights Activists Prepare for the Nigerian Anti-Gay Bill Hearing

Nigerian gay rights activists and mainstream human rights organizations are intensifying their campaign against the Same-Gender Marriage Prohibition Bill at the forth-coming public hearing on the Bill. The Bill was passed into the lower chamber of the National Assembly at its second reading and currently sits on the laps of the Joint Committee on Human rights, Justice and Women's Affairs.

Led by The Independent Project for Equal Rights (TIP), gay rights advocates plan to voice their opposition to the bill and press for legal protection of sexual minorities at the hearing. Nigeria is among the world's most dangerous environment for open advocacy for rights of homosexuals. "This current bill is more draconian than the 2006 bill as it discreetly aims to target human rights defenders through which I am affected along side my colleagues in human rights activism," said Joseph Sewedo Akoro.

He points out that the bill will fuel human rights violation on the grounds of perceived or actual sexual orientation and gender identity expression in the country. The public hearing on the same-gender marriage prohibition bill is now scheduled to be held on Tuesday (March 11). The bill will receive lots of discussion, after which it may - or may not - be passed by the lower chamber. If passed, the bill we go through the same process at the upper chamber before it is passed to the President for assent. TIP is mobilising a group of human rights organisations to attend the public hearing, to give presentations against the bill and inform the House of Representatives the potential effect of the bill to national development and their obligation to maintain peace and orderliness in the country if the bill is passed. Human rights groups are concerned that the Bill will criminalise sexual minorities and their advocates. Denial of a Gay Community in Nigeria Is "Economical With the Truth", Say Young Humanistas. The Young Humanistas Network in Nigeria described recent remarks of Ojo Madueke, Nigeria's Minister for Foreign Affairs, denying the existence of a gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community in the country as being"economical with the truth".

27 comments:

Mogaji 8:19 pm  

It might be considered suicidal but gay people, their friends and families have to be willing to give human faces to the Nigerian gay community. Ojo Maduekwe gets away with his statement because very few people will say I'm gay and I'm Nigerian. It's how the western gay communities did it. We can't expect to make the progress they have made without paying for it.

Anengiyefa 9:05 pm  

Well, gay Nigerians know that they stand the risk of losing their jobs, their friends, being rejected by their families, being evicted from their homes by their landlords, being ostracised from society and after all of this, be arrested by the police and beaten up and tortured...and as far as I know, there is no gay ghetto in Nigeria where a gay man or woman could go to seek refuge. Little wonder then that gay Nigerians have to keep their lips sealed and hide their faces behind maskes.

Occupied Funk 9:15 pm  

Nigeria needs a gay president.

CodLiverOil 10:32 pm  

Is Nigeria a land that respects human-life? Judging by the way people die, up and down the country (due to various causes, many of which are preventable), which is met by at best resignation ("it was God's will") or indifference (more the norm). - I think not. What about the hundreds if not thousands of un-convicted persons rotting behind bars, who have not been charged with anything. No one does much about their cause?

Mogaji, I fail to see how Nigerians publicly demanding their human rights and being subsequently murdered, or if they are "lucky" (harassed and persecuted) without any legal protection will change the situation. At least in Britain during campaign in the 70s there was semblance of human rights that the government was prepared to respect.

So to advocate public demonstrations at such a risk with no contingency as to help those who are injured/ murdered or persecuted is plain irresponsible considering the callous nature of the government.

You only have look at the case of the activists Davis Mac-Iyalla and Bisi Alimi. They did take a public stand and have had to leave the country to preserve their lives.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Davis_Mac-Iyalla

If they had died, would that have made a difference to you? I wouldn't be surprised that many Nigerians have died at the hands of the "families" because of being gay/lesbian or trans-gender.

There was a case of a Nigerian university student being murdered (using koboko)by his "classmates" because he was suspected having an liaison with a policeman. This was in the North, his name escapes me.

Mogaji 11:43 pm  

I know all of these codliver but even in the western world thousands died at the hands of the policemen, in various riots and from hate crimes. All I'm saying is if you want a change that big you have to sacrifice big. I always thought same-sex relations was a western thing too until I met a few gay Africans and that changed my perspective. It is well documented that homosexuality is accepted more when it does not seem so foreign.

Anengiyefa 12:30 am  

Mogaji, homosexuality has always been a part of Africa. It was the colonialists and their missionaries who taught us homphobia. The sad fact is that although Europe has recognised that their homophobia of the 19th Century was wrong and have now made amends, we Africans seem ho have become stalled in an outdated idea. Many African societies had traditions of homosexuality before the Europeans arrived. It was the Europeans who taught us that homosexuality is abominable. Before then, our ancestors always understood that homosexuality is a small part of nature, because the African has always been close to nature. That there is no record of homosexual hounding, indeed of homophobia in African history, is proof that our ancestors must have at least tolerated the homosexual men and women amongst them. The virulent and malicious homophobia that we are witnessing in Africa today is a direct consequnce of the loss of our true history and the blind acceptance of ideas and religions that are foreign to our society and to our land. We seem no longer to know whether our culture is African, or whether it is a distorted and twisted version of 19th Century Europe's.

Nigeria is a secular state in name only, because our elected legislators regularly invoke their religious beliefs in the debates that are such an integral part of the lawmaking process. To that extent, we still have a long way to go in successfully separating religion from the state, as Europe has done. Religion continues to play an inordinate role in our national life and this can be said indirectly to be a major cause of our backwardness and our failure to achieve real development.

As for people sacrificing themselves for a cause, this is already happening. I am tired of people sitting around in armchairs proclaiming the solutions to other people's problems.

abby 8:17 am  

I agree 100% with Mogaji. If people truly believe in something, then they must stand up for what they believe in, to effect change. Davis Mac-Iyalla and Bisi Alimi would not be in exile if people had stood by them on masse.

I am prepared to support gay rights and I don't give a hoot if people suspect me of being gay as a result of it. But gay people must be prepared to get out of the closet and brave the consequences. No point otherwise.

Mogaji 2:12 pm  

I know, I know. But in spite of all that I still think the Nigerian gay community has a visibility problem. Even those of us who consider ourselves enlightened about this cannot count a dozen Nigerian gays we know. There needs to be some sense of community somewhere. Gay people did not congregate in San Francisco and Manhattan by accident. They made a conscious effort to give themselves a community and then it took them a few decades to achieve their goals. At the rate Nigeria is going it's going to take centuries.
TIP and other advocates are going to face the National Assembly without substantial statistics or information about the group they represent. The gay community has to give people something to work with. I know they can fly their opposition on the basis of human rights violations but when the nation does not see faces to back up the point the exercise becomes pointless.

Anengiyefa 3:42 pm  

Mogaji, gay people in San Francisco live in a society where the rule of law is supreme. In Nigeria, openly gay people are attacked with impunity and even the police who should protect them are their worst abusers. Let us not talk as if we do not know the way Nigerians react towards gay people. A gay person in San Francisco even before homosexuality was legalised, still enjoyed the protection of the law that is the right of every human being. This is not the case in Nigeria. Lets throw off the moth balls before our eyes. There are gay Nigerians everywhere!

Lost at The End 4:53 pm  

Is Madueke not the same person that said the child-witch phenomenon was staged? Sighs...

Human rights are closely tied to the concept of citizenship, a social identity that comes out of a civil relationship between state and people.

But, alas, Nigeria is a country without citizens. Which simply means that The GOVERNMENT does not give a fuck about anyone.

Disenfranchised gay man, raped woman, abused child--if you can, have recourse to their benevolence. if you can't, you're toast because they don't think of themselves as having any civil obligations.

Arrrrhg!

Anyway, props to the humanrights groups fighting o. We shall overcome!

Mogaji 9:15 pm  

Sigh. I'm Nigerian, I know how sour the Nigerian gay experience can be. Quit trying to inform me about a society I was born and raised in. If you are waiting for a civil rights movement before raising a gay rights platform, a lot of people will still be caught in the conflict that ensues.

Also successful civil right movements don't necessarily aid gay rights. The civil rights movement in the USA did not address gay rights for decades and the lesbians had to segregrate from the Women's movement because the feminist movement would not address lesbian rights either. In addition other minority groups in the West still assert that gays do not deserve rights to this day.
I have had an African American state to me point blank that since gays did not struggle as much as blacks did for liberation, they do not deserve to benefit from their sucesses. In other words, Eleru has to gbe eru e.

Anonymous,  9:39 pm  

All the gaylords are out in full force! To me, homosexuality is abnormal. Only abnormal people engage in homosexuality... stop buying into the westerns meme that homosexuality is just an alternative lifestyle!!! is there any stone cold conclusive evidence that homosexuality is genetic??? NO!
Would any of you ( those with children) encourage your sons to choose between the hetero and homo lifestyle?
Please blets call a spade a spade.... the anus/rectum is no meant as a sexual organ! Anyone who uses this solely as one surely has problems..... since when are people accorded special status because of the people they CHOOSE to sleep with.... homosexua;lity is a perversion... and like all perversions, its pretty addictive. Enough with this politically correct rubbish!

Anengiyefa 9:48 pm  

When gay men and lesbians were agitating for rights in America they did not risk brutal torture and murder by police. Let us not equate the Nigerian situation with America because the two are very different, and to do so borders on the nonsensical. Gay activists from Nigeria regularly receive death threats even from their own family members. It should surprise no one that the majority of Nigeria's gay population either remain hidden or flee the country at the first opportunity. It is naive for you to think that their existence can only be acknowledged when they carry placards and hold protest marches, which in any event will be brutally suppressed by the authorities, with the widespread and popular support of an ignorant and uninformed general population. Lets stop kidding ourselves and face the reality. Gay people are fearful of making themselves visible, but in every ten Nigerians is to be found at least one gay Nigerian. Indeed, one in four of all homosexual Africans are Nigerians. That you dont know does not mean that this not so.

Anengiyefa 10:26 pm  

@Anonymous 9.39 PM, the anus and the rectum are not the same thing as homosexuality. Go and educate yourself and please refrain from exhibiting ignorance in public. And by the way, when the Western colonialists first arrived in Africa, they were taken aback by the widespread homosexual practices that they encountered. Homosexuality is not a Western import. You need to do some reading and not rely just on myth and half truths. The gay lifestyle might be a modern invention, but human sexuality was never invented by anyone at anytime. Homosexuality is a part of human sexuality. It is as old as mankind and the evidence is that it is just a variation of normal human sexuality. It amazes me how ignorant some people still are even in the 21st Century.

Mogaji 11:13 pm  

Sigh. Never mind. I would suggest that you go read up on the history of gay rights in the USA.

Kody 4:14 am  

I tend to get impatient with commentators on this blog because many state the bleeding obvious without offering solutions. Often times, one wonders if one's energy is not better spent at an amusement park when one can go round and round but have fun.

Anengiyefa, what exactly is your point? Its all very well to step forward, state the obvious, then step back on to your pretty little fence.

There are millions of gay people in Nigeria - wow, you think?

They will be persecuted if they come out - is that so? Tell us something we don't know.

How do you suggest they reverse changes in the laws that are being passed against them?

If gay people want to stay in the shadows for the rest of their days, let them do so. If they want to advance their cause in any significant way, then the onus is on them to stand up and do something about it. I am not getting into the ring whilst the people I am fighting for hide in the back rows wrapped in scarves and sunglasses.

Kody 4:23 am  

Anon at 9.39pm, did you hear that the President of the 'Commenting Without Intelligence Society' (CWIS) read a book for the first time, so has been forced out of office? His seat is vacant if you hurry.

Anengiyefa 9:09 am  

Mogaji, Jeremy's post is not about gay rights in America. Which planet do you live on?

Kody, don't be ridiculous! What was being discussed here, was that some commenters had suggested that gay people should not expect recognition in Nigeria since they will not reveal their identities and speak up. When it is pointed out to them that gay Nigerians are reluctant to speak up, because they fear being persecuted in a particularly brutal fashion, they tell you youre stating the obvious. The hypocrisy in Nigeria is apalling! Nigerians should know that homosexual people exist in their midst. It is silly to suggest that gay people should identify themselves first before thier right to freedom from inhuman and degrading treatment is granted them.

Anengiyefa 9:21 am  

And Kody, unlike most of the poeple who make these comments, Anengiyefa is my real name. And I am not in hiding!

CodLiverOil 4:25 pm  

To those who read my last comment. A few points of order, the student whose name escaped me at the time was called Inua Yakubu, and he was murdered for having a liaison with a ex-fireman (not a policeman as I had previously claimed).

The basic premise that he was murdered by his "classmates", still stands. Here is the story.

http://www.mask.org.za/article.php?cat=&id=425

This new bill will legitimise such acts. Who knows they may even draft another one paying the perpetrators a bounty.

Does this act merit his death? What happened to the "alleged" killers, probably nothing. I need say no more the facts speak for themselves, thank you.

Anonymous,  9:45 pm  

"And by the way, when the Western colonialists first arrived in Africa, they were taken aback by the widespread homosexual practices that they encountered."

Is that a fact? By whose account? Who wrote the history on this one? I bet it wasn't the poor homosexual Africans!
Stop creating myths to buttress your choice of lifestyle.... the only difference between a homosexual and a heterosexual is the in who the choose to have sex with! Two men can be friends, that doesn't make them homos it is only when sex comes into the equation that they can be defined as homosexuals.
I don't have a problem with anyones sexual choices, but I do have a problem with anyone trying to shove this so called alternastive lifestyle down my throat. Why should anyone get speacial consideration or rights because of who they sleep with??? what will it be next, Beastiality Rights Activists.. Puhleeze!
And you know just because I do agree with the gaylords on here does not make me ignorant. I also don't believe in incest.... but then some cultures do, and the practice it.
I guess for the gaylords on here the best way to defend their lifestyle is to insult those that have a problem with it.

Anengiyefa 9:50 am  

Anonymous, unlike you I refuse to hide behind a mask of anonymity. Are you one of those Africans who believe that an Englishman Mungo Park discovered the source of the River Niger? A river along which our ancestors had traded, travelled, lived and died for centuries before Mungo Park was even conceived in his mother's womb?

Many African societies had traditions of homosexuality. Indeed, among some of them, homosexuality was actually embraced as part of the culture. I can give you names. Azande, Yoruba, Dahomey and many others. References ae available. The history is documented. That you didn't know this before is because, like most other Nigerians, our hisory has been taught to us by Europeans. And the history we know is what they wanted us to know.

I really don't care what you think of homosexuality. What is important is that people know the actual truth. Each person is entitled to his own opinion, and it is not my object to convince any person to change their mind about homosexuality. However, let your opinion be an informed opinion, rather than an opinion that is based on half-baked information, falsehood and lies.

Anonymous,  11:35 pm  

All human right activists should keep on fighting for the right of Gays, lesbian, bisexual, trans and straight people to live peacefully in Nigeria. Though, I have witnessed the threat to life several times regarding this issue, I eventually escape but I will continue to lend any support from Canada, where I now live.
'Diq ABD

Anonymous,  11:46 pm  

Guys, you are doing great work by lending a voice to support freedom in Nigeria, I believe one day we shall overcome, even if not in this era of ours but surely the truth shall prevail, homosexuality has always exist from time immemorial and thier is no human community where they dont exist because, homosexuality is human. I wonder what make people think that homosexuality is a threat to them. Nigeria should be progressing not retrogressing with such draconian law.
Diq ABD

Anonymous,  10:02 am  

In October 2004, 8th to be precise, a young Nigerian gay man came out on Funmi Iyanda show. He epitomized what is now known as the start of gay activitism in Nigeria. I know many of you have talked about giving the movement a face, but do anyone of you remember who Bisi Alimi is, where he is right now, and what happened to him after his coming out?

Many young gay men in Nigeria wants to come out, but like what many of you have raised, what they stand to lose in the community is enormous and many are scared of doing this. To the person that doubts the existence of Homosexuality in Africa, will you do yourself a favour by doing so goggle searching? Thats might help your ignorance,

Anonymous,  3:10 am  

It is a welcome development to stop this madness spreading around the world today. It is both un-natural and unhealthy to promote gay life. I welcome the National Assembly in their bid to stop this madness.

Anonymous,  5:19 pm  

Its so so stupid to be thinking pf legalising gay in Nigeria. Any idiot that plans for this will surely be disgraced. All these stupid boys or men taking part in this UnGodly act should be aware of their places in hell fire. u better be warned.

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