Reuben Abati Writes: A Day With The Gay Community

Reuben Abati Writes: A Day With The Gay Community

Originally published on olorisupergal.com

I was invited to deliver the keynote address at this year’s special event on “Human Rights, Sexuality and the Law”, an annual symposium organized to promote awareness on issues relating to the plight of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and/or Intersex (LGBTQI) Community in Nigeria. When this was announced on social media by the organizers, The Initiative For Equal Rights (TIERs) and @YNaija, hell practically broke loose within the LGBTQI community.

I was dismissed as a wrong choice, and the organizers were accused of being insensitive to the feelings of the community. A broad-based protest was launched on twitter and there were essays on the subject on NoStringsNG.com (the online media advocacy platform for LGBTQI issues in Nigeria), with the most scathing objection written by Bisi Alimi, the Nigerian-born, London-based gay rights activist. Bisi Alimi described me as a “homophobe.” He said the invitation extended to me was an abuse of TIERs, and he was offended that a group he had helped to co-found would offer its platform to an “oppressor.”

Following a pre-event twitter chat with me on the subject, coordinated by @YNaija, the attacks got even more aggressive. Someone wrote that having Reuben Abati as Keynote Speaker was like inviting the “KKK to an NACCP event.” An article written by Kritzmoritz and published by KitoDiaries.com (another Nigerian LGBTQI blog) was titled “Of TIERs, Reuben Abati And All That Angst.”

The anonymous author reflected the sentiments of the gay community in the following words: “Let me get this out of the way from the onset so we are clear. I don’t like Mr. Reuben Abati. Over the past five years, I have come to view him as a rather unpleasant human being…” Another commentator, Mandy, in a piece titled “There Is No Engaging With A Keynote Speaker” took the additional step of launching an online petition and called for signatures to “drop Reuben Abati” because in his or her view, “you cannot invite the person who killed me to come apologize at my funeral; things are not done that way.”

My offence is that I had participated in a discussion of the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act 2014 shortly after President Goodluck Jonathan signed it into law. Alimi, in particular, was on an Al-Jazeera panel with me. He argued that I exhibited homophobia, defending the law. The complaints by the gay community were so loud and their objection to the possibility of my being allowed to invade “their space” was so trenchant. I called the organizers to ask if they were considering a change of mind about their choice of Keynote Speaker. Their answer was in the negative.

On December 14, I participated in what turned out to be a lively, engaging, open and inclusive symposium on Human Rights, Sexuality and The Law. I did not see any reason to beat about the bush. I opened my address with a response to Alimi and the critics. The labels used to describe me do not fit me. I am neither a homophobe nor an extremist. My views are liberal and I consider the rights of every man to be ontological, interdependent and indivisible. These rights are well-covered in all the major nine documents on International Human Rights, including the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (1948) and its 30 articles, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (1979). Nigeria is a signatory to majority of these conventions, protocols and covenants as well as the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (1981). Chapters Two and Four of the Nigerian Constitution, 1999, expressly uphold these rights.

The enactment of certain legislations such as – The Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2009, HIV/AIDS (Anti-Discrimination) Act, 2014, Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act, 2015, the National Human Rights Commission Act, 2015, the Prohibition Against Domestic Violence Law No 15 of Lagos State, 2007, Gender Based Violation Prohibition Law of Ekiti State, 2011, Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Law Enforcement and Administration Act, 2003, the Legal Aid Act, 2011 and the Child Rights Act, 2003 – also point to considerable advancements in human rights legislation in Nigeria since 1999. Human rights are important. They are indeed matters of urgent and high priority because they are at the core of the idea of our humanity. They are indispensable vehicles for achieving peace, stability, justice and development in the world. Every human being is entitled to these rights; to devalue the right of any person is to violate that person’s right to dignity and justice.

Nigeria in spite of acknowledged advancements remains a nightmare where human rights are concerned. The failure of institutional mechanisms and the absence of political will to translate constitutional rights into effective human rights realities have resulted in what is clearly a governance and accountability crisis. The average Nigerian suffers the after-effects in various ways: poverty, lack of access to justice, violence, kidnappings, police brutality, extortion, wanton resort to self-help by both state and non-state actors, and a general regime of lawlessness reminiscent of the brutal days of military rule. Political leaders and state officials are so powerful that they have no regard for the people. They choose when it is convenient for them to respect court orders.

There is a disconnect between Nigeria’s international human rights obligations and what it does at home, creating conflicts and tensions in the implementation of human rights law. Nigeria is a member, for example, of the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice, but the government routinely ignores the rulings of this strategic regional court. Non-state actors are emboldened by the negligence of state actors to take the law into their hands, as seen in the conflict between Corporate Responsibility and Human Rights in Nigeria. Nigeria is a member of the International Labour Organization, the enabling principles of which are covered in the Labour Act, 2004, but with the unemployment crisis in the country, employers of labour trample on the rights of workers at will. The non-justiciability of the social, economic, cultural and group human rights goals in Chapter Two of the Nigerian Constitution further compounds the nightmare.

It is within this overall context of the human rights situation in Nigeria, that the issue of sexuality is to be located. Section 15 (2) of the 1999 Constitution talks about national integration without discrimination on the grounds of sex, among others. Section 17 states that the social order is founded on the ideals of “freedom, equality and justice”, while Section 17(3) says state policy shall be directed towards “all citizens, without discrimination on any group whatsoever”, a goal that had earlier been covered also in Section 14(2)(b). Section 42 further upholds every Nigerian’s right to freedom from discrimination. Whereas the Constitution talks about sex, and not sexuality or gender orientation, the principle of equality before the law and the right to be human is without exemption of any persons or groups. Article 2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights indeed says sex should be taken to include sexual orientation and gender.

Minority groups are often targets of violence in Nigeria – apart from ethnic and religious minorities, women, children, the girl-child and the physically challenged, perhaps the most targeted and the most violated in recent times are members of the LGBTQI community. Gays in Nigeria have found themselves in a hostile society. There have been reported cases of persons with suspected LGBTQI orientation being subjected to various forms of violence: kidnapping, extortion, rape, assault, inhuman and degrading treatment, denial of access to justice and curtailment of their fundamental rights. The state looks the other way, the rest of society says serves them right.

There is no plan or structure in place for protecting gay persons in Nigeria from outright violation even by the police and the state. Section 214 of the Criminal Code criminalizes “any person who has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature”. Section 217 thereof frowns at “gross indecency”. Similarly, Sections 284 and 405-408 of the Penal Code, and the Sharia Law in 12 states of the North make homosexuality a punishable felony. Public hostility towards the LGBTQI is widespread. It is risky to reveal sexual orientation in Nigeria. No political party or politician has formally endorsed LGBTQI rights in Nigeria.

The Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act 2014, which is a particular source of anxiety and the target of protest by the Nigerian and global LGBTQI community, establishes a legal basis for formal discrimination on the grounds of sexuality. This law forbids any form of gay marriage, or civil union (sections 1-3), the registration of gay clubs, societies and organisations or the holding of gay meetings (section 4(1)) and the display of amorous relationship between two persons of the same sex in Nigeria (section 4(2). Anybody who enters into a same sex marriage contract or runs a gay club or association or group or is seen to be aiding and abetting homosexuality is considered guilty of a felony. The punishment ranges from 10 to 14 years (section 5). Although the SSMPA deals with marriage or civil union, it is a much stronger law than the Criminal and Penal Codes and the Sharia on gay issues. It is a law fraught with ambiguities, which devalue the gay person’s rights to privacy, dignity of the human person, freedoms of expression and freedom from discrimination.

But it remains a popular law with the majority of Nigerians who rely on culture and traditional values, public morality as defined in Section 45 (1) of the 1999 Constitution, and the fact that Nigeria being a sovereign nation should be free to make its own laws and not subject itself to Western notions of sexuality. Research findings accordingly indicate that more than 95% of the Nigerian population considers homosexuality a sin. Religion and culture remain major barriers to human rights expression as seen in the case of Christians quoting such anti-gay Scriptural passages as Leviticus 18:22, 20:23, the poor fortunes of the Child Rights Act in spite of its ratification by 26 out of 36 states, constructive and continuing gender discrimination, and the disgraceful politicking over the Gender Equality and Prohibition of Violence Against Women Bill, 2016 which has now been reduced pathetically, at second reading, to a bill on violence and sexual abuse.

There are specific posers to be raised in relation to the SSMPA 2014. One, culture to the extent of its dynamism should evolve, and must not be erected into a given barrier to human rights expression. Two, human rights and sovereignty should not be antithetical. Three, who should determine what is right and wrong? Is there an objective universal morality in a world of diverse beliefs and practices? And is morality necessarily as determined by the majority? Can the majority possibly be wrong in a democracy?

Where sexuality is concerned, the insistence on basic rights can only be a continuous and inclusive struggle. The debate can only continue to evolve as society itself evolves. The irreducible minimum lies in the need by state and non-state actors to continue to make efforts to dismantle barriers and extend the frontiers of how human rights are respected, protected and fulfilled. Gay persons in Nigeria are subjected to police brutality and assault, targeted killings, hate crime, and sundry forms of discrimination. Their relatives are stigmatized. The jungle justice that is imposed on the community is outside the province of the law. Enforcing the law as it is, until it is amended, revised, or repealed, should be within the province of the rule of law, not the jungle. The right of all persons to freedom, justice and equality should be considered sacrosanct. Any law, which contradicts this principle, in its operation or expression, is to the extent of its inconsistency, questionable.

The more memorable aspect of the 2016 symposium on Human Rights, Sexuality and the Law, attended by both gay and non-gay persons, was the interactive session where further issues were raised and interrogated. One fellow stood up and insisted that I needed to apologise to the LGBTQI community for views I had expressed in the past. My response was that when I defended the SSMPA publicly in 2014, I was doing my duty as the Official Presidential Spokesperson. In that capacity, it was part of my responsibility to explain and promote government policies and decisions. A spokesman’s loyalty is to country, state, government and principal; he or she is essentially a Vuvuzela. Besides, the SSMPA is not a law about my personal views but the values and the choice of the majority of Nigerians. What people do with their private lives is their business as free human beings without interpreting freedom as absolute, however, but as a guarantee for the equality of all persons.

Someone else wanted to know why President Jonathan considered it expedient and urgent to sign a bill that was first proposed in 2006 into law. The chronology is that the National Assembly rejected the bill in 2007. It was passed by the Senate on Nov 29, 2011, by the House of Representatives on May 30, 2013 and signed into law on January 13, 2014. If President Jonathan had withheld assent, the National Assembly could have exercised its power of veto override. What is required, in all of this, to be honest, is not ex post facto hand-wringing and blame games, but continued advocacy and awareness building. Incidentally, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights has called on the Nigerian Government to consider a revision of the SSMPA given the manner in which it is being exploited to violate fundamental human rights. A day may well come when this would happen in line with the Yogyakarta Principles on sexual orientation and gender identity, as has been experienced in Mozambique, Nepal and Nicaragua.

A lady stood up and added: “Dr Abati, it is important that you realise you are in our space. This is a very sensitive space and community. My husband is your very good friend, but I still think you owe this community an apology because even when doing your job as a government official, there are certain things you should not say.” I thought I already answered that question. Another lady intervened: “Hi, Dr Abati, I am made to understand you don’t believe we exist in Nigeria. Well, now you know we do. I am a citizen. I work in this country. I pay my taxes. My name is Pamela. And I am a Lesbian.” I have never said any such dumb thing as to insist that the LGBTQI community does not exist either in Nigeria or elsewhere in Africa. Having read Bernadine Evaristo and other writers on the subject, I have a clear understanding.

I left the symposium with two special gifts. The 2016 Human Rights Violations Report Based on Real or Perceived Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Nigeria, a 61-page publication by TIERS Nigeria which was formally presented at the occasion and “Tell Me Where I Can Be Safe”: The Impact of Nigeria’s Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act, a 108-page publication by Human Rights Watch. Both publications provide detailed and up-to-date information including statistics and the impact of the law with regard to the status of the LGBTQI community in Nigeria, focusing mainly on human rights violations on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. I recommend both publications for general reading and for the benefit of those seeking answers on the subject under review.

Sitting by my side during the interactive sessions was Olumide, the gifted and resourceful activist who runs TIERs Nigeria. We reviewed the comments as they flowed forth from the participants in the room. What is clear is that there is a vibrant LGBTQI community in Nigeria led by internationally exposed, media-savvy and knowledgeable young men and women who are determined to insist on their fundamental human rights and their right to be who they want to be. They are aggrieved. They are organized. They have set up platforms for self-expression including the use of technology, publications, movies (re: Hell or High Water, November 2016), the media and other social networking opportunities. Their voice is likely to grow louder as they become more organized. For how much longer can they be ignored?

As the event drew to a close, the microphone got to a young fellow who incoherent at first, still managed to deliver his punch-line killer: “Please, I don’t understand what people are saying. They are saying they are liberal, or that we need to unlearn certain things. Liberal, about what? When you say you are liberal, it is like you are patronizing us. Can you talk about rice when you have not even tasted it?”

Yes, I think. One of the privileges of intellection is the right to talk robustly and nineteen to the dozen about rice, without ever tasting it.

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  1. Dennis Macaulay
    December 29, 06:49 Reply

    At the end of the fucking day what did TIERs achieve?

    1. Abati did not apologize for the role he played in supporting that draconian law. I expected him to say “As spokesperson for GEJ it was my job to defend all actions of government. I am however sorry for the people who were humiliated or brutalized as a result of this law. That was not the outcome we intended to have” simple. My friend asked him for an apology and he said there was nothing to apologize for.

    2. Reuben Abati has no power. He is out of government, he is not even a policy maker, so what did the pandering achieve? If we groveled before a policy maker, I can argue that its for the greater good but not in this case. So all they achieved was his patronizing condescension. Well played TIERs, well played ???

    • Lizzy
      December 29, 07:33 Reply

      I just know sat you go be the first to talk. Your constant willingness to be spoke person For others no dey tire you? Abeg, don’t do it behind computer Uncle I know what they could have done, get up and do. What makes you different from him? If all you do is hide behind technology to throw so much hate? Apology ko, sorry sorry ni. If you want apology start from those who sponsor the bill from your state. All of you here is hide behind technology to throw hate at almost every post or telling others how they should do and not do. Oga know it all, get out of technology do something and we go see how they do it. Una no eveb dey tire? Just say you hate those people at TIERs because you friend got issue with some few there, stop follow follow. The hate have read on here that you throw at many post is worst than those from outside. Kotinue, your public day will come and if you want to know what they achieve, na online you go know ham? Uncle no give yourself too much headache

      • Dennis Macaulay
        December 29, 07:47 Reply

        Lizzy I will ignore your barbs and hypocrisy and stay on the issue. Kindly tell me what TIERs achieved by pandering to this bigot.

        Regards

      • Mandy
        December 29, 07:48 Reply

        Lizzy, I think he’s allowed to be aggrieved about the poor judgment of TIERs, without you being all up in his coochie. Haba! We get it. You probably work for TIERs. You have ties there. It doesn’t take away from the fact that their Reuben Abati choice is looking more and more like a bad decision.

        • Lizzy
          December 29, 07:58 Reply

          This is the problem, for saying otherwise I must be working for them or with ties there. So because all of us don’t go same road we are mad? I still say and will say again, none of the drama make sense to me. I have few friends who have spoken otherwise and the kind bully they received says much about us. We don’t have to agree, Biko. The event is done, let’s move pass and stop being overly dramatic. Same TIERs that have done other things in the past, why we crazy over this one? As to what they achieved, he should go ask them if s/he want to know Biko. I don’t do their work, I don’t know what they achieved but I support their encourage. Being here and throwing hate here abc there wouldn’t help you or them. Done and icee with this

          • Mandy
            December 29, 08:07 Reply

            For someone accusing me of making presumptions about the intention behind your opinion, you did the exact same thing with DM.
            But you’re right. what’s done is done. Let’s be looking toward next year’s human rights event. hopefully, in the days leading up to next year December, this community will make giant strides to make things alright for us.

      • ambivalentone
        December 29, 07:52 Reply

        It is rather heart-wrenching knowing that you do not see past your nose. It is about gay ppl. Yet again, it is not about gay ppl. Then, u wouldn’t know that, would u?

    • ambivalentone
      December 29, 07:37 Reply

      You are right on the patronizing part. Every sentence dripped patronage. I couldn’t get over the image of him wondering ‘which animals have brought together this symposium?’.
      Oh, and its not about him not having power. Its about him not having a stance, and an obvious lack of intergrity. Such clear displays of rights’ infringement on ALL fronts and you sit put citing ‘Vox Populi’, Religion. Well done

      • Lizzy
        December 29, 07:52 Reply

        Let be fair, don’t read mind. Like I said when the issues was still hot, I don’t get the drama around him not like I support him either but again, the drama no make sense. At the end, we might never get anyone interested if we continue to ask all fire wood removed because they look this or have acted this. Biko this entire drama should go with 2016 and we should all move on hoping for better days ahead. Event has happened and done, it’s didn’t remove anything from me. Let move on and pass, he’s not the gay man blackmailing other gay men or setting them up with fake profile, we deal with our own too

        • ambivalentone
          December 29, 07:59 Reply

          EXACTLY! We av enough on our plate to deal with without having had to call on an unapologetic rights’ abuser to drop shades coated in big grammar. That event didn’t achieve nothing. NOTHING! Not for the LGBT community, not for anyone.

          • Lizzy
            December 29, 08:22 Reply

            Can you say in your own opinion sir or ma? I don’t think you can speak for us all, you can’t even speak for us all. We are a nation of over 180million and at least we should have more than 18million LGBT persons, certainly you can’t speak for us all. Express your own opinion according to your view but not for us all. That not to say it right or wrong but if you want us to respect your view, respect those of views of us who don’t feel same. You can start by not speaking for us all but holding on to your view for yourself and that is very much okay and I support. Have a good day sir or ma.

            • Pink Panther
              December 29, 08:28 Reply

              It goes without saying that everything anyone expresses here is his or her opinion, no matter how the person has worded it. So you don’t have to lecture anyone on that, Lizzy.

            • ambivalentone
              December 29, 09:16 Reply

              Uhm, didn’t u just claim ‘the event didn’t remove anything from me’? Nne, I speak for u join. U only are in denial. Inugo???

  2. y
    December 29, 07:01 Reply

    Since we now know Reuben reads this blog lets all tell him what we think of his ilk..don’t hold back…
    REUBEN YOU ARE A REPULSIVE REPUGNANT SHITSTAIN. YOU CAN’T TALK YOURSELF OUT OF THE DANGOTE TRUCKLOAD OF KARMA HEADING YOUR WAY. KARMA IS A BITCH WITH A LONG MEMORY AND SHE KNOWS YOUR ADDRESS! HANG TIGHT YOU FRUIT BAT LOOKING MOFUCKER , THIS IS GOING TO BE A ROUGH FUCKING RIDE.

  3. Mitch
    December 29, 07:31 Reply

    After all the legal jargon he spouted, he ended up saying absolutely nothing!

    No apologies, nothing at all from this buffoon of a man to the people he and the government that empowered him have caused so much harm. Instead, he comes politicizing and hiding under the cloak of ‘doing his job’.

    Abati, the thunder that awaits you will come straight from the anus of Satan himself. Animal!

  4. ambivalentone
    December 29, 07:42 Reply

    Ehen!!! Nigeria is signatory to all those??? Lord!!! Well, asking for his comment on the recent bill requested to be thrown out by thar Sultan would be endorsing hypocrisy

  5. Mandy
    December 29, 07:54 Reply

    The complaints by the gay community were so loud and their objection to the possibility of my being allowed to invade “their space” was so trenchant.

    Something tells me that ‘their space’ was put in quotes of derision, an annoying condescension that peppered the entirety of this piece. There was no empathy. No overt understanding of our community. Just a lot of patronizing baloney and weary rhetorics.

    • Dennis Macaulay
      December 29, 08:20 Reply

      That is the part that continues to pepper me about this bigot. I saw the video clip of the event, he was dripping patronizing condescension and was lying through his teeth.

      TIERs made a bad judgment call with this and I hope they never make this kind of mistake again.

  6. MagDiva
    December 29, 09:14 Reply

    “A day with the gay community”.

    Did this idiot go to the zoo? Or visit a lab to see new bacteria being cultured?
    What kinda retarded heading is that?

  7. Delle
    December 29, 10:36 Reply

    I am quite contented with his write up.

  8. Lorde
    December 29, 11:28 Reply

    So, after all this jibberish, he said, what did he now say?

  9. Jamie 2.1
    December 29, 12:08 Reply

    Nice to talk here again…
    I’ll start by saying that whether we agree of not, the future of the Nigerian LGBT community is the future of the Nigerian LGBT community, closeted or not; working or not; young or old; not just for one, not just for some… As such, everyone ought to have an opinion about any headway being about the future of the life of the LGBT in Nigeria, no matter how stupid!! It’s said that sense sometimes comes out of nonsense… TIERS is an organisation working for the LGBT community, and as such, they cannot ever be able to satisfy us all!! What we expected from them was the reasons they chose Ruben Abati, but they shut up all through the heat; that’s weird and suspicious, if you ask me…
    Nonetheless, the man above still went ahead to speak up cos they allowed him. And now,….everyone who said and is still saying he was a wrong choice is right, and everyone who says he is a manageable choice are equally right!! I’ll tell you why, and this is just my opinion…..
    1. I still think that Ruben should have apologised!! He can’t say that if he committed other official crimes on other people during his tenure, he wouldn’t apologise!! But then, who wants someone to apologise when they don’t really feel it? I appreciate honesty!!!
    2. At the end of the day, yes, he did speak there. And though he sounded cynical and stylishly unapologetic about his wrongdoing, somehow, Ruben stated factual facts as to why he thinks that we the LGBT do not deserve the treatment we get. And you know, he may not be as popular as before, but the news is sure to fly. And that’s what we need!!!
    We shouldn’t be pitying him, yes we are the victims here. But then…I came out to some members of my family, and though they truly love me, I know how hard it takes for them to really understand me. And we can always apply that understanding… That’s why I equally appreciate those criticising him, and those appreciating him too, cos that’s what he rightly deserves!!
    What we should be worried about is why TIERS was so sure he would turn up this good, from what we were expecting. We can’t let politics come between us and tear us apart so deeply!!!

    • Delle
      December 29, 13:19 Reply

      I love this comment. ???

    • Tiercel de Claron
      December 29, 21:36 Reply

      All major newspapers carried this piece yesterday,their online editions.
      That’s for those who think Abati have little to no value now.

      • ambivalentone
        December 30, 06:37 Reply

        No apologies, a patronizing/condescending and outright disrespectful tone and all you could think of is ‘all publicity is good publicity’? Sorry to burst your bubble but Nigerians already know gay ppl exist (thank you America, UK, Alimi, Denrele, Bobrisky). Its what comes from that knowledge that affects us and Abati did NOTHING in that piece to let on that we DESERVE to be safe. Our lives will stiil be subject to the will of the general homophobic public. God grant u sense.

        • Pink Panther
          December 30, 07:03 Reply

          Sorry to burst your bubble but Nigerians already know gay ppl exist (thank you America, UK, Alimi, Denrele, Bobrisky). Its what comes from that knowledge that affects us and Abati did NOTHING in that piece to let on that we DESERVE to be safe.

          THIS!!!

          In one conversation about this, a conversation that roped in what use Linda Ikeji does to the community, someone said we should make do with what we have, because after all, they are driving the conversation and that any conversation, good or bad, is better than no conversation at all.

          Well, I beg to differ. The conversation we need Nigerians to start having about our community is the kind that humanizes us. Not the kind where we are still treated with disregard and dehumanization.

  10. Canis VY Majoris
    December 29, 13:45 Reply

    This felt like I was tricked into reading the Nigerian constitution again. Bunch of legal jabawalkies with no golden compass.

  11. Dimkpa
    December 29, 16:53 Reply

    I had great respect for Dr Abati. I used to enjoy reading his articles in the papers. When he got appointed by Goodluck, I was a bit worried because I know that governments sometimes hire their critics to shut them up. So it appeared to be with Dr Abati. My respect for him further dropped when I read the article he wrote in October about evil spirits in Aso Rock.

    Nevertheless his attendance at the TIERS event and this article will help shed light on the issues we face even if not with the resonance it would have in the past.

    As to some of the points raised here. I like how he stated there is a general problem with human rights in Nigeria. However the difference with those rights and the evil of the SSMPA is that at least in principle, those rights are acknowledged by government while the basic right to be who we are was made a crime. I remember when the law came out. I was seized with fear. I had only recently admitted to myself that I was gay and had started making friends. The paranoia made me delete all contacts with gay people and drove me back into solitude.

    The point was made that culture evolves and that morals is not universal. I agree with this totally. The people that keep shouting that homosexuality (or gayism as some stupid people say) is for the West seem to forget that theyou also have evolved on this issue and that it is the recognition of the injustice that prompted the change. Just like Jesus said with regard to the Sabbath, “Sabbath was made for man not man for sabbath.” In other words when it comes to tradition/culture and human rights, tradition should give way. Otherwise we would still be killing twins in some parts of Nigeria.

    On the argument that 95% supported the bill, I think that what the majority thinks should not be the basis for determining rights or law. I bet a majority of Germans supported the Third Richie, I bet a majority of the Confederates in pre-civil war America supported slavery, I bet a majority of white Americans supported segregation and all that went with it, yet these are some of the greatest evils that have been perpetuated by many on their fellow men.

    Finally I want to address this issue of just being a mouthpiece for the government. I understand that one has a job but come on. You don’t go to an International News Organisation and defend something then come back and say you were a vuvuzela. The world over men of integrity resign or protest when the government goes against their personal beliefs. They make it known for posterity sake that they are not in support as a matter of principle. Dr Abati didn’t do that. He defended the law and now he is no longer relevant he comes to say that he was not in support of it. All the Nazis were considered war criminals whether they were just following orders or not. Personally, I don’t buy that excuse. The truth is we were expendable and not worth protecting, therefore we were offered up for slaughter to the Nigerian public, and slaughter they did.

    All in all, I still think some would read this article and think twice. Whether that is enough for the evil is up for debate.

    An apology I believe is necessary in this case. Dr Abati may not have been the principal actor but he was one of the leading men. An apology would not be a step in the wrong direction.

  12. Mr. Fingers
    December 29, 18:48 Reply

    Good read,eventhough for most parts i felt he was just deviating from the main issues.

    Deep down in his heart,Dr. Abati doesnt believe in gay rights that is why he would find it difficult to offer any kind of apology.

    However i respect and admire the fact that he still came to deliver that lecture knowing fully well the type of reception he would receive.

    I can understand the bit abt doing his job as spokesperson of the then govt eventhough i doubt if that was all he was doing at the time.

    Goodluck to the guys at TIERS once again. I love what they are doing.

  13. Abi
    December 29, 21:22 Reply

    No matter how anyone wants to defend the speaker or the organizers, his presence reeks of pure condescension, arrogance and its just intellectually insulting!

    You dont have to be in policy making, you were in govt, you presented the govt’s view, you “defended” the law/policy because its simply your job, but the impact of such policy on people is beyond deplorable. APOLOGIZE to the people that you once had such view, but now you’ve evolved! But no thats too much for you to do!

    His presence at the event, even worse this article is absolutely ridiculous at best.

  14. omiete
    December 29, 23:24 Reply

    Lizzy I honestly do not understand all the issues coming out from your mouth at all, I can’t even see a single sense. Anyways I agree with DM he should have just apologized about the people that got hurt from the law because actually if Jonathan had vetoed, the National Assembly would have gone round to unveto, seeing as we are in a homophobic country. Right now am afraid for Pamela this is the second time she’s coming out, I heard her at the last two episodes of untold facts.

  15. Pankar
    January 02, 12:07 Reply

    Like it or no, where we stand now as a community of is better with this event. Abating may not have apologized but but you don’t need a soothsayer to to see that his defense of his actions on Ssmpa bill is weak and that’s better than an apology. He’s saying if he had a say, I he would do it differently -, that’s an ally:, this community needs friends.

    Like his speech and ended on the 14dec, bulk lies on ur community and activists continue to the fight for repeal.

    Who better to deliver the address?, our member?, or someone not linked at all?. It gave us audience, and him showing up is apology enough. Forget drama.

    This publicity did spread

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