Wednesday, January 25, 2006

On homosexuality, free speech and a gaping divide?

I have just realized how draconian the proposed Nigerian executive bill banning gay marriage is. It not only prohibits gay marriage -which by the way no-one in Nigeria has demanded- (in what is described as a "pre-emptive step by the Minister of Information) but also "any form of protest to press for rights or recognition (for homosexuals)".

In addition, quoting the honourable Minister "it is an offence for anybody to contract a marriage or have a relationship with a person of the same sex.. If you do, it carries a sentence of five years imprisonment without the option of fine, and if you aid or support in any way, anybody of the same sex to contract a relationship or marriage, it will also attract five years imprisonment."

Surely this is a gross transgression of the rights to free speech and association and is going to open the floodgates for the most grotesque witchhunt. How on earth is "any form of protest", "aiding or supporting" or indeed "relationship" going to be interpreted? Two men or two women living together or sharing a bed as commonly happens in the chronically housing-deficient cities of Abuja and Lagos ? An article supporting equal rights for gay people? Could this post constitute a breach of these laws?

And all this from a president and ruling class whose appetite for all sorts of sexual shenanigans is legendary. The hypocrisy of it is stunning especially when members of the ruling class (and their children and step-children) are free to live as they like, leaving the common man and woman at the mercy of draconian rules like these.

Why do we refuse to accept that cultures are dynamic and that the way to shape them is to leave matters open for reasoned, intelligent debate? Why are we so afraid of debate? Plastic surgery, the internet, and embezzling communal funds are all un-African. Would that my president would exhibit similar zeal towards these "vices" as he has towards homosexuality!

A friend points out that these changes are probably being driven by the Anglican Church in Nigeria, horrified to discover gay members (whom they had always claimed did not exist) in their midst http://snipurl.com/lx21

Meanwhile, the whole debate has been causing sparks to fly on two Nigerian blogs- Black Looks http://snipurl.com/lx22 and Trae Days http://snipurl.com/lx24 with what appears to be a clear distinction in opinion between Nigerians living abroad and those living in Nigeria.........

5 comments:

Brian said...

Banning gay marriage is one thing. But banning any agitation for gay rights is beyond shocking.

Observer said...

Last time I checked the Nigeria federal executive branch consists of less than 50 core politicians, while the Nigeria gay population is somewhere between 6.5 million and 13 million human beings. Do the math. Remember, the Stonewall Rebellion was about punishing authorities who tread on human rights. An entire army of gay-allied people could enter Lagos and the entire government could not pick out who's who.

onyeka nwelue said...

There is a little bewilderment in this. I read the Greek histories very well and there is nothing like the condemnation of gay rights, talk more of a country where men practises bestiality...i think our luscious President has nothing to do...

I do believe that they should leave them to live the way they want to. PERIOD!

ngozi said...

nigeria is such a backwards country. i feel disgust every time i hear of yet another dunderhead thing we do. instead of tackling povery...we have idiots for leaders. idiots with work to do, but keep finding studpid things to do instead.

Abby said...

The Nigerian government is the best hpyocritcal government I have ever seen. Denying some citizens their rights is another issue, so many lagging issues are calling for attention, gay* ppl they believe do not exist are the most important thing on their agenda. Dang! the Nigerian leaders need to go back to their advisers and check with what will benefit the whole nation instead of trying to shed some light on some un-called for pre-emptive distraction!!