RANTINGS OF A RANDOM (Gay) NIGERIAN (Entry 63)

RANTINGS OF A RANDOM (Gay) NIGERIAN (Entry 63)

I woke up one morning and Twitter was buzzing. It appeared that Pink News, which is a foremost LGBT newspaper in the UK, had awarded David Cameron the title of “Ally of the Year”. However, this did not seem to go down well with many LGBT people in the UK. I was particularly curious because I always assumed that Cameron was an LGBT rights champion, especially as he oversaw the legalization of gay marriage in the UK. So it was a bit confusing to see the backlash, which even prompted the magazine to issue a strong statement explaining why he was a good choice for the award.

This comment I saw on Twitter caught my attention.IMG-20161209-WA000

I decided to dig around a bit and found that a lot of the backlash was centered on something called Section 28, which was proposed by former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (she and Cameron belongs in the same party). Now this section 28, which became law in 1988, banned local authorities from portraying homosexuality in a positive light. It became a totemic issue for Conservative modernizers. In 2003, when it was abolished by the Labor government, Mr. Cameron voted for only the partial lifting of the ban.

Following my discovery, I could see why the people were angry, and even though he essentially gave them marriage equality, they still felt insulted that “their newspaper” was honoring this man. I am sure you know where I am going with this already but just indulge me a bit, let me finish. Interestingly, Cameron has used every available opportunity to apologize profusely to LGBT people in the UK for the positions his party (The Conservative Party) took in the past and specifically for some of the roles he played himself. Still many of the people felt insulted that he was being honored; I think the message is pretty clear.

Now the other day, I was travelling to Aba via public transportation. Radio Biafra was playing in the bus, so I just stuck my headphones over my head and was engrossed in my novel when the bus stopped to pick up this young lad whom I suspected was gay. We continued on our journey, and from the corner of my eye, I spied him checking out Grindr on his phone. At this, I chuckled inwardly and continued reading, making no attempt to start a conversation with him. Along the way, we got to a police checkpoint and our bus was flagged down, with two policemen coming close to the car, as if to inspect it. Immediately this boy turned off his phone and shoved it deep down into his backpack. I could sense an urgency in him, a fear, as if he was holding his breath, which he only released when we moved. I began to understand that his phone must have been searched by the police in the past, or such a search must’ve happened to someone he knows, and not yielded any favorable result, for him to possess this kind of fear.

You know, when people talk about this issue of police searching their phones and all, it never rings home to me, majorly because I use a car around the town. I have never personally experienced it and I typically would say that the policeman who will search my phone hasn’t been born yet. However from the reaction of that boy, I could see that this is a real problem, one which people face daily, and it just left a bitter taste in my mouth.

This culture of fear is the legacy that President Goodluck Jonathan left us.

Many of our community members died as a fall-out of his law, and outside the deaths, we are all living in fear, terrified about what could happen to us if “our cover was blown”. Sometimes I think to myself that neighbors will be wondering why I receive far more male visitors than female visitors to my flat; one night, I even had a terrible dream that people broke into my flat while I was in bed with a man and dragged us out. You see, that law empowered homophobes to dangerous levels, and it weakened our ability to resist; after all, you wouldn’t want the issue to escalate and land you in prison for 14 years. It gave power to a dangerous kind of homophobia which we haven’t seen before.

This is why it makes me sick to my stomach that Dr. Reuben Abati, who was the face of that law, is essentially headlining what is basically the only LGBT platform we have in Nigeria. It is an insult to every one of us who have felt and still continue to feel the sting of homophobia in Nigeria, but most importantly, it is an insult to the memory of our people whose deaths Reuben Abati indirectly justified.

I have confidence in the leadership of TIERs; I in fact consider the executive director a friend. However like humans that they are, I believe they made a mistake on this issue. Making Reuben Abati a keynote speaker is a wrong judgment call and it’s not too late to fix it. We can move him to a panel where the audience and participants can properly engage with him. I enjoin you all to SIGN THIS PETITION HERE and get your friends to sign it so that the people at TIERs can hear our voices and realize that this was a mistake.

XOXO

DM

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8 Comments

  1. Gaya
    December 09, 07:54 Reply

    This petition requires… First name, Last name, and email. don’t you think the majority of us will also be scared in releasing those informations in this same Nigeria???? I’ve signed tho.

  2. pete
    December 09, 08:12 Reply

    I’ve listened to both sides of the argument. Think I’ll wait for the programme and listen to what he has to say.

    • Dennis Macaulay
      December 09, 08:36 Reply

      It goes beyond what he will say, Its a matter of principle and setting a precedence!!!

      • pete
        December 09, 08:39 Reply

        And the objections have been noted.

  3. Jide
    December 09, 15:13 Reply

    This was beautiful written. could totally qualify to win a literary award.

  4. Stein
    December 09, 16:57 Reply

    Am I the only one thinking that this is what they want? That they want to set a trap for us. Getting all of us gays, who are brave enough to go to the panel( if it’s going to be physical), so that they can round us up to and finally enforce the 14year imprisonment term. I dunno if this is just me being paranoid from all the tactical movies I’ve seen, or that the Nigerian politicians are actually that smart.

    • pete
      December 09, 17:32 Reply

      Being gay is not an offence in Nigeria. Caught in a Homosexual act and/or belonging to gay group is the offence.
      Stein, you’re just paranoid.

  5. Tiercel de Claron.
    December 09, 21:29 Reply

    Being gay does not get you 14years in prison,direct involvement in gay marriage here in Nigeria gets you that.
    The Criminal and Penal Codes empowered the Police and homophobes long ago.
    Heck,the authority to breach one’s privacy on suspicion of having or about to have intercourse with one of same sex comes directly from the Criminal Codes,not the SSMPA.
    You should have gotten that right,at least,done your ‘research’ before penning this stite.

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