Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Jail the Gays, Nigeria.

Nigeria is in the news again, and as usual, it's not because we've done something right. This time around, a revised secret version of the anti-gay bill has been passed into law, very quietly (so as to prevent another lobby by LGBTQI bodies in Nigeria, I suspect), and our normally unpopular legislature seems to have hit a home run with this move. In one fell swoop Nigeria's generally inept leadership has managed to unify all the different factions and groups warring for supremacy (or at least some kind of majority foothold) in this great nation: Christian, Muslim, PDP, APC, Igbo, Tiv -  90+% of the Nigerian populace is solidly behind them in this incredible violation of human rights because, hey, we never liked the gays anyway.

I'll just ask one question here: how many (out) gay people does the average Nigerian even know? Usually, none. So there is this malicious scourge, this vile, reprehensible minority whose very existence is a stench in the nostrils of the Nigerian populace, never mind that most of the Nigerian populace doesn't know anyone who actually belongs to this group. And just like with every other human rights violation, the (often willfully ignorant, irrationally prejudiced) majority reserves the right to endanger the lives of innocent people because they can. We can oppress the gays and strip them of their humanity and their rights, like historically the blacks, the women, the mentally ill, the lower castes, and any number of other minority or culturally 'inferior' groups was and often continues to be oppressed.

What is it about homosexuality that makes it okay for a failing leadership to latch onto a non-issue, create a human rights fiasco out of it, and still win the praise of its disenfranchised polity? Please be sure to leave comments about how gayness chips away at the very fabric of our great culture and traditional values (because obviously culture is static and the gatekeepers of African tradition are people who dress like Westerners and worship Middle-Eastern deities), how gayness endangers our children (because gayness is a communicable disease), how gayness threatens procreation (because despite environmental issues and overpopulation, what the Earth needs is more people), how gayness offends god (please be specific as to which god you're referring to; there's a ton of them) - please be sure to set your human decency aside and propagate hatred and victimization of innocent people.

For those who will say that Nigeria is a majorly religious nation and in Christian and Muslim doctrine, homosexuality is a sin, I have two statements. One, Homosexuality is not a sin; it is a state of being. No state of being is sinful. Latent sexuality is simply that: latent sexuality. Neither good nor bad. Neither sacred nor profane. How is romantic love sinful? How is sexual desire sinful? If you proceed to say that it is homosexual behavior that is sinful, please read my second point: your religion is yours and yours alone. Religious beliefs are not an absolute standard; they are a personal choice. So if your god, gods or God frowns on same-sex relationships, that doesn't mean everyone's does. Nigeria is a secular state: a religious majority should not mean the criminalization of orientations or behaviors that do not follow the mores of that religion. Otherwise, every single person in Nigeria would be liable for jail time. And that includes you, Soldier in the Divine Army of God.

Truth be told, the general bent of the comments on this issue has been astonishing in the depth of prejudice and ignorance. All you have to be to see that this law is a terrible thing, is a decent human being who is capable of compassion and empathy. Discrimination, persecution and criminalization of any innocent person based on differences in religion, gender, sexual orientation, income level, or whatever else contributes to identity is a violation of basic human rights. You do not get to pick and choose what rights another human being qualifies for on the basis of your personal (or in this case, collective) biases, prejudices, ignorance, intolerance or bigotry. A human being is a human being, regardless of who they love or how they fuck. And it's none of your business, and certainly none of the law's.

PS: the comments on this post will be moderated. If your comment will include accusations of homosexuality, passages of scripture, ignorance, derailment or bigotry, please don't bother. 

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