Queer Alliance works to enhance the knowledge and change the perception of the Nigerian public on issues of same sex sexuality. It is our belief that positively changing public opinion around what same sex sexuality means and constitutes is an important step towards advocating for favorable laws and policies for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people (LGBTI).
|In Issue 4|
In Nigeria, as in too many African countries, laws and polices assert explicit discrimination against LGBTI persons that not only perpetuate homophobia and hatred towards these populations, but pose a significant threat to the physical, financial, emotional, and sexual well-being of same sex-oriented people. Section 214 and 217 of the Nigerian Penal Code are clear examples of the legislated discrimination against LGBTI populations. These sections are based on archaic and overly moralistic terms such as “unnatural” and “indecent” to describe and punish same sex-oriented people. A bill for the prohibition of same sex marriage has also been recently proposed, which exacerbates the denial of fundamental rights for LGBT people. Further, Nigeria is politically and religiously divided between north and south, and twelve states in the north have enacted additional laws against consensual same sex behaviors, organizing and activities. Section 131, 132 and 133 of the Sharia Penal Code stipulates the capital punishment of death and also condones the torture (flogging) of citizens found in same sex relationships and activities in the northern hemisphere of the country.
In order to combat these legal and other barriers, Queer Alliance aims to go to the root of the issue by debunking public statements from politicians and religious leaders that claim the “un-Africaness” of same sex sexuality. It is imperative that Nigerians, as citizens of all countries around the world, begin to speak out against legislations for the criminalization of the identities and behaviours of same sex oriented individuals and other persons. Our organization simply exists to challenge stereotypes associated with same sex oriented persons, particularly the claim that same sex sexuality is un-African, and advocates for a shift in laws and policies to acknowledge and protect the rights of same sex oriented individuals.
Security and safety are national issues in Nigeria, particularly as it exacerbates gender-based violence, and these issues are more serious for marginalized and oppressed populations such as LGBTI. Recently, Queer Alliance has been engaging with security forces in the region to address issues of violence towards people on the basis of imputed or real sexual orientation and gender identity.
For change to occur at all levels of society, the media needs to play its role. Media reports on same sex sexuality issues in the country are mostly biased and not objective, which drives the homophobia that LGBTI people experience. In some cases, the media may even condone and encourage violence towards LGBTI people. We at Queer Alliance believe that the media is a critical and influential tool that can reach a wide audience of citizens, government representatives and religious leaders in order to effectively challenge those who support the archaic laws and the proposed legislation that continue to oppress the rights and well-being of LGBTI populations in Nigeria. We are therefore calling for the protection of vulnerable LGBTI people in Nigeria as the duty of the government to ensure that all people can live without the fear of reprisal and violence for who they are.
by Rashidi Williams from Queer Alliance