The recent bill banning same sex marriage/public display of affection by same sex couples and the resultant penalties by the National Assembly in Nigeria has been generating much controversy internationally.Personally, when I saw the headlines last week, I didn’t even bother reading as I thought it was one of those moves by a bunch of overpaid alleged lawmakers to try giving the impression that they are actually working. I never thought it would receive as much press and attention as it has these past few days.
Having grown up in Nigeria, I know that from my experience homosexuality is frowned upon by society. It was a very rare exception and even at that, the homosexuals largely kept to themselves, or as they put it, kept it in the closet. I for one never personally knew any, though I heard a few stories of them. I recall swimming at Durbar Hotel as a teenager and one of the guys pointed out a clean cut guy in the pool that if I recall correctly, may have been in his late 30s to early 40s and told us he was gay and that we should stay away from him. It seemed very queer and quite funny then. I also recall one of my friends that attended a Command Secondary School joking about how they had a guy in their boarding school that got beat cos he was a “faggot on the loose” (I still remember that term). Throughout my days at the University of Port Harcourt, I don’t recall any specific out-rightly gay incident, though there were silent rumors-but nothing immediately stands out in my memory. However, I do remember a guy “Bobby Razzler” – a character that allegedly was cursed with always wanting to bang anything in skirts. He was straight as far as I was concerned but he was also one of the most abused: verbally and physically on campus.
In the larger society, there were rumors of the ruling military Generals being a cabal of homosexuals (maybe bi-bisexuals would be a more appropriate term as some were married with children and were also known to be “womanizers”). There were rumors of big Alhajis in the north that loved young boys.
As far as the women, the stories were mostly of how in girls-only boarding schools “Senior” girls conscripted and molested young freshmen students and introduced them to a lesbian lifestyle in their high school dorms. It had a term that I don’t recall, but I remember a Ghanaian friend telling me of similar situations in Ghana they called it “Supee” (or something along those lines). Then there were scorned girlfriends/wives or ex-girlfriends/ex-wives that have developed strong resentment towards Men and decided to live as bi-bisexuals or straight lesbians. In all these, such lifestyles were very discreet and private. Public displays of affection (PDAs) was quite rare even for straight couples talk-less of same sex ones.
Now back to the pending bill in Nigeria. While the idea that the spirit behind the bill might be aimed at moral or even spiritual cleansing and preservation of Nigeria’s society, I think it is suspect.
First, those legislators and lawmakers in Abuja that are arguably and probably the highest paid in the world ought to realize that gay marriage is not the biggest problem facing the Nigerian masses. I guarantee you they were not elected (or rigged in) to fight for or against gay rights by their constituents.
Along those lines, if their main concern was championing morality, then one would expect that the emphasis should have first been on corruption. Endemic corruption is, in my opinion, a more pressing and even crucial problem than Gay marriage.
With vast resources an enormous potential, it is unforgivable that the Nigerian people are denied the very basic infrastructures and amenities. Billions of dollars (not Naira) are spent each and every year on these, yet there’s little or nothing to show for it.
The insecurity in Nigeria is at unprecedented levels – terrorism by Boko Haram, kidnapping, brazen armed robbery, assassinations, Niger-Delta militants etc.
And the clowns in Abuja could only come up with the genius idea of a law against gay marriage!
On the other hand, make no mistake: We are living in a neo-colonialistic world and the Anglo-American empire are running things. Already there has been hints of threats and possible sanctions from the UK, US and even Canada against the Nigerian government should the bill be passed. Should such be the case, guess what: the politicians and elite wont be the ones to suffer – again the poor masses will bear the brunt. An informed and in-depth analysis and you can be sure on whose hands and influence the world is under.
It was only here in the US that I have observed homosexuals living relatively “normal” and often aggressive lifestyles and initially it was a very big cultural shock to me. Over the years, I have observed the Lesbian Gay Bi-Sexual Transsexual (LGBT) movement grow, met them as anyone in New York City would and even personally know one or two people of such orientation, having worked with an agency that provides housing for clients largely from that demographic.
You see, it used to be quite funny to me how here in the US it (same sex marriage) is a big deal: its a hot presidential campaign issue and in NY as well as some other states it has even been signed into law. In my opinion its not a major concern of the average American, but since basic amenities, infrastructures and constitutional guarantees to human and civil rights are in place, Americans can have the luxury of sorting out how sexual and lifestyle preferences factor into their society though it would obviously be more ideal if emphasis was placed on more pressing issues like employment and the ailing economy. The so-called homophobia is alive and well in the US and the West as a whole, just kind of suppressed. It is handled tactfully not blatantly.
Having said that, with Nigeria being a notorious “follow-follow”, maybe Nigerians should be counting their blessings that the law being proposed wasn’t the other way round. Imagine the impact or backlash it would have already had on an already highly volatile society, talk-less of the far reaching impact on the moral fabric of this same society that has continually had more than its fair share of moral, spiritual and social decadence.
For once, it seems the Muslim North and Christian South have finally found a common ground albeit a rather unexpected/unusual one. On the surface, the law doesn’t penalize one for just being a homosexual. The punishment is for homosexuals that try to get married and that is seen in certain circles as being fair as it has been the norm in many societies for centuries. From my observations based on feedback from forums I have read, the proposed law is popular and well accepted in Nigeria by the overwhelming majority. Yet it does not change the fact that this is not a matter of immediate national priority. This whole episode might perhaps be just a waste of time. Not only for the homosexuals, but also for the strong pro or anti gay elements, the politicians in Abuja, the foreign governments that are meddling in the issue, and even my humble self. After all, I could have used the time I spent thinking, analyzing, composing and writing this piece on something more important and/or productive. Seriously.
My personal, moral and religious beliefs does not support nor encourage such lifestyles, amongst others. In the same vein, those beliefs and principles that I have and strive to live by do not make me hate. I believe in the Golden Rule of doing unto others as I would love them do unto me and the Divine Wisdom of leaving all judgment unto God. I don’t think I flaunt my heterosexuality and I really detest when some flaunt their alternate sexual preferences or lifestyle in my face or don’t keep to their space in that regard. To each his or her own. But that is MY PERSONAL prerogative. As free moral agents, every human has a right to live their lives the way they chose to and should accept the resultant consequence(s) thereof.
In conclusion, this is just another sign of the times we are living in. Divine prophecies are clearly being fulfilled right before our very eyes. As you read this, please use discernment.
I’ll really appreciate your comments and input to the discourse – maybe something can come up from this….waste of time.
P.S: Below are some links regarding the subject matter:
1. The Bill: http://www.nassnig.org/nass2/legislation.php?id=440
2. Interview of alleged Gay Nigerian: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-16006716
3. Gay Pastor Dares senate: http://http://www.vanguardngr.com/2011/12/homosexualism-nigerian-gay-pastor-dares-senate-recruits-more-members/
4. Wont Bow To Foreign Pressure: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2011/12/nigeria-wont-bow-to-foreign-pressure-says-mark/