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.
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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.