Since the infamous bill become law recently, many LGBT and human rights activists have pulled together resources to try to fight the law. Interestingly enough the first person to attempt to bring down the law is a straight ally, Teriah Joseph Ebah, who does not live in Nigeria. The case was however dismissed as the court said the plaintiff could not prove how the law harmed him personally and hence he was not qualified to bring the case to the court. From what I’ve been told, this is not at all the end of the line, even though it is a setback of sorts but it leaves open the door for a future case. The clear problem is that the only ones who are affected by this ruling may have unique difficulties in actually bringing this case to court since it means that one has to admit to being gay for the law to be seen as a source of harm and coming out carries certain risks – loss of employment, verbal and physical attacks among others. However LGBT activists seem positive and I really hope z new, stronger case is made soon. Read the rest of the story here.
Tag Archives: nigeria
While having a much-needed tea break in a nearby café just before closing, I ran into a friend and colleague I hadn’t seen in a few months. We’d become friendly after we collaborated on project but when the it ended and we went back to our departments, we never seemed to find the time to meet up. It was unfortunate as I enjoyed her company and she was one of the only gay people at work I was friends with. However I wasn’t out to her. She once described me as “the straightest” straight man she knew. While I was amused, I wasn’t sure I liked that description especially the frisson of pleasure I felt when she said it. Did that mean I was completely boring with no redeeming qualities? Was the fact that I felt some pleasure inside mean I was still clinging to the hetero-normative ideas of manhood and had a problem with feminine qualities I or other men possessed? Read the rest of this entry »
I remember thinking “thank God this is not us” when I would see car and suicide bombings in the news as a child. How the story has changed today! Besides a reputation for online fraud, Nigeria is now also known for religious unrest with associated massacres and bombings, the fear of which is so great that the Independence Day celebration was shifted from the open square to the apparently impenetrable fortress that is Aso Rock, the location of the Presidential Complex. Read the rest of this entry »
In 2004 Bisi Alimi, a recent university graduate and activist came out on the national TV talk show “New Dawn” in Nigeria. He had been outed in the university by a magazine and this made the rest of his stay in school difficult and led to some difficulty in getting his certificate on account of “moral issues” even though he had completed all the coursework required. However coming out on live national television at a time when many people still thought gay men and women only existed outside the country pushed the issue to the fore-front and led to him being ostracized by friends and family but especially by other gay men who didn’t want to be seen with him for fear that others may suspect that they were gay too. Also he began to receive death threats and finally an attempt was made on his life after which he left Nigeria in 2007 and moved to the United Kingdom where he now lives and works. Read the rest of this entry »
The ink isn’t even dry on the paper yet and the Nigerian Police Force have started rounding up suspected gay men. Allegedly some members of the police have signed up to some gay dating websites and begun luring men to meet up with them. When these men appear, the officers arrest force them to reveal names and numbers of other gay men in the area. Many people have been arrested and some are asked to pay bribes or risk being outed. In the North, 12 men were arrested according to the BBC and one of them was sentenced to receive 20 lashes and pay a fine in accordance with Muslim Sharia law. The lashes were meted out in a packed court room. A Christian who was also arrested will be handed over to the regular courts. Gay men in Nigeria have been warned to stay off the sites and not to meet any new people. Read the rest of this entry »
President Goodluck Jonathan signed the anti-same-sex marriage bill into law on the 7th of January. It was all very hush-hush unlike the fanfare that accompanied the bills various movements through the House of Senate. The bill bans all gay clubs and activist groups meaning that it has effectively shut down any dissenting voices. That such a bill will be passed in a country where it is already illegal to be gay seems ludicrous but there is a clichéd saying that truth is often stranger than fiction and sadly that seems to be the case here. Just as surprising was the amount of homophobia some young citizens released on Twitter. Although Nigerians spoke out against this new law, most were citizens living outside the country. As much as I know that it’s not everyone that feels that way and as much as I know that some gay people feel pressured to join the gay-bashing brigade online to maintain their “cover”, I can’t help with wonder if the anti-gay sentiment is stronger than I thought. If the people who are computer literate, have access to the web and its attendant wealth of information could still say such things in this day and age, then what about those who don’t have such tools and/or knowledge available to them? Gay men and women have been warned to stay of all dating sites and not meet any new people because it is expected that violence against LGBTs will rise fast. I wonder what will happen to the young gay boy or girl who is now discovering themselves in this climate.
Life just got harder.
Last week, I posted about the a state in Nigeria imposing harsh sentences for LGBTs. Tom Janus of Queerlandia joked that if it were up to some staunch anti-gay legislators, this new change would be applied to all states.Well this humorous comment has unfortunately come true as the Nigerian Senate has applied all the necessary changes and have passed this bill to the President and they are pushing for him to sign it within the week although he has 30 days to do so. Read the rest of this entry »
Katsina (a state in northern Nigeria and home to the Gobaru minaret) has decided to bypass the Nigerian federal government and enact a new law which criminalizes homosexuality with a 14 year jail term since the current sentence was too “light”. Note that Katsina already has Sharia law in place which punishes homosexual acts with a death sentence. I was quite surprised to find that Sharia law was introduced in that state by the governor at the time – the late President Yar’Adua, who died in office in 2010 and was well-liked by most Nigerian citizens. He is so far the only Nigerian presidential candidate to publicly declare his assets prior to an election. Part of new laws that were enacted in this 14 year jail term bundle include law against sexual harassment which is apparently common in universities as well as “gross indecency upon another person”.
I didn’t even know state governments could enact such laws outside of the federal authority but I have learned something today. Why consensual behaviour between two adults who know what they are doing should be punished in many African countries still angers and saddens me. As for the sexual harassment law, I’m glad a government has found it important to tackle it because it is known that many female university students are under pressure to grant sexual favours to lecturers and sexual harassment does continue in the workplace, I’m not sure a 14 year-jail sentence is the right way to solve this problem especially the legal system isn’t known for its fairness and transparency and the accused is almost always far more powerful than the accuser.
Maybe it’s time gay men and women in Nigeria began to speak up. Who knows which state will be next?
The violent Islamic sect Boko Haram marked three years (and some days) of escalating terror in Nigeria last weekend by attacking students of an agricultural university as they slept in their beds. These militants (who were allegedly called “freedom fighters” by a misguided European reporter a couple of years ago) entered into the student hostels during the night and began firing off shots into the darkness where the students slept. I am not a crying person but my body aches when I think of the number of young people who went to sleep and never saw morning, all for nothing. I cannot imagine the pain their families and friends must be going through. How anyone can justify the killing of young people is beyond me. The death toll stands at 40.
This was their second such attack in less than two weeks. In the beginning it seemed their targets were Christians and other representatives of “western” education, they have actually killed just as many Muslims and destroyed property irrespective of tribal, religious or other affiliation. In this last attack, every single student was Muslim. Several statesmen have been called out as being supporters of this group and although no conclusive evidence has so far been found, I don’t believe that they do not have support from some political elements. As the old, often-quoted saying goes there is no smoke without fire. Since the prison break in September 2010, over 700 people have been killed by the attacks and the government does not seem capable of tacking this issue, which at this point, the most critical problem facing northern Nigeria. Already people have begun moving south and into neighbouring Niger to escape the constant threat of death. Recent university graduates who are from other regions of Nigeria no longer want to take part in the Youth Corps program because of the fear of being sent to the north and dying in a bomb blast or other violent act and most graduates regularly seek re-deployment if sent there.
I hope the souls of these students and people killed by this sect find peace in the after life.