The outpouring of outrage and counter-rage surrounding the passage of the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Law 2013 in Nigeria which criminalizes same sex relationships has assumed the ugly shape of two lovers – fighting over another love. On one side of the divide are gay persons (LGBTI) screaming black — discrimination and inequality based on their sexual orientation which they say is inborn and acquired ; while on the other side of the gulf are staunch anti-gay persons who feel and argue rather piously that gay practices are inimical to the public moral, health of the society, family &humanity and should be outlawed; and laud the Nigerian government for damning ‘foreign diplomatic pressure’ – and passing the law which bans and criminalizes homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and associations in an eerily open-ended terms; wide as a net to catch even ‘abettors, activists, and sympathizers’ of gay people.
The thrust of this discourse is to weigh the claims of both lovers to the new found love affections, in order to create a win-win situation without compromising our deeply-held values, ethos, culture, institutions & our ‘democracy’.
Homosexuality has always been here with us, and no law, custom or persecution can wish that out of existence. they are still here – fully humans; on the streets, market, schools, and sorry, places of worship (churches, mosques & shrines etc) banks, playgrounds, & political parties etc. The Nazi tried to wipe them away and failed. Gay persons are humans and deserve a life devoid of stigma, slur, and spite. They are saying let’s enjoy our sexuality in quiet. Now, humans are very sexual beings; in fact, sex is one of the most prized and sought after ‘commodity’ or needs of humankind. To them, it matters little whether their sexual bias is acquired or innate – they simply seek same freedom to exercise their sexuality as heterosexuals do. All argument by gay community’s and pro-gay activists is the creation of free society, emptied of criminal discrimination and inequity dimensioned on peoples’ sexuality, a phenomenon usually beyond our eyes.
But, to anti-gay proponents and governments, gays are asking for too much – a right to be recognized in marriage, and found a family. To grant such right is to slacken the thread that holds humanity. Homosexuality is solely for pleasure and pay, without any benefit to humanity. Humanity is propagated and preserved through the institution of marriage and family. Homosexuality cannot guarantee procreation. The human race has the right to the procreation of its own species, and any fellowship or association that obstructs or attempt to disrupt this cord of our bodily existence and of future generation is inhumane, and squarely criminal. The argument is that lesbian or transgendered sexual association are framed on some uncontrollable ‘wild sexuality’, of a promiscuous brand which takes pleasure in unnatural circumstances hence humankind has the right to criminalize & discriminate against gay people to further its continuity on earth. That’s it.
This writer opines that outlawing differing or minority sexual orientation appears unenforceable and ambitious besides the issue of rights violations. Will the legislation convert the genetic attachment of some people to homosexuality? Another hurdle is the implementation and enforcement of the law. Would the police mount CCTV in every room, hotels, caves, shrubs etc to monitor who’s sexing who? What happens to friends who relate like brothers: walk hand-in-hand, bathe together and even cross-dress? One’s greatest fear about the law is the high possibility of it being turned into a tool of politico-social persecution and extortion in the hands of the police who will recite the law to exact money and advantage from unwary citizenry. You see, government should step with caution when trying to legislate on peoples’ sexuality – a hidden cat-like exercise.
Nonetheless, gay people (LGBTI) must understand that as much as it is undesirable to discriminate against them on grounds of their sexuality; laying claims on rights to marriage and family, especially in Africa and especially Nigeria is a very hard sell. Africans are ingrained with the belief that only heterosexual institutions of marriage can foster and raise a round and viable family, the bedrock of humanity and in Africa; individualism usually gives way to community. Even in the US, some states are yet to come to terms with same sex marriage or unions. On this path therefore, a little caution is desired.
The truth however is that no one in the Nigeria gay community has demanded for civil union or right to marriage. The demand is, let us be, for we too are humans and demand that our rights as humans be protected.
That’s not unreasonable.
Elvis – Wura Towolawi