The Day My Class Of Law Students Talked About Homosexuality In Our Human Rights Class

The Day My Class Of Law Students Talked About Homosexuality In Our Human Rights Class

So just a few days ago in class, we were discussing the topic of the Ombudsman, and we were made to understand that it is called the “Public Complaints Commission” in Nigeria. We were also lectured on how the ombudsman is supposed to ensure that the government does its duties well as its failure to do so would obviously result in infringement of Human Rights.

At this point, the lecturer asked us to give examples of happenings in Nigeria that violate human rights and examples like the herdsmen attacks and SARS etc. were given.

And then I brought up the arrest of the 57 alleged gay men in Egbeda. And that was how it all started.

Our lecturer responded that she was on the fence as regards the issue and asked for our opinions on the matter.

A female classmate took up the microphone and started. She’d obviously read the book, She Called Me Woman, and used it as her reference point. She talked to the class about every known sexual orientation, an education that filled me with such quiet pride. She broke so many things down. She was fierce and articulate, and her points persuasive.

Of course, following her moment, came the usual tide of homophobic responses from some of the other law students. Comments like: “If my child came to me and said he or she is gay, I would change that child’s sexual orientation…” (One guy particularly said that if he had a child that was gay, he would kill the child.)

“All gay people should be locked up…”

“Accepting gay people will lead to the corruption of children…”

“Homosexuality is a choice…” (A girl said that she could choose to be lesbian if she wanted to.)

“God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because of homosexuality…”

“Homosexuality is a product of the West…”

“If homosexuals are accepted, then pedophiles too should be accepted…” (This particular point was so serious, because there were the usual ignorant comparisons between sexually abusing children and consensual sex between two adults.)

“If homosexuals are accepted, there will be anarchy as straight people will start killing them…” (There was a certain false concern that guided this particular objection.)

“Homosexuals are the cause of the prevalence of STDs, HIV in particular…” (Here, they used Bisi Alimi as some sort of warped example of how gay men make Nigeria one of the countries in the world with the most cases of HIV.)

But as much as there were homophobic comments in the class, there were also the enlightened, positive and tolerant responses.

A girl started with, “If my child came to me and said he or she is gay, we would pray about it…” At this, the class began to howl, but she cut in and continued firmly, “I would pray that my child survives this country and its hate, that my child be confident in his or her own skin, that my child be cool with not conforming to the status quo.”

There were others:

“Why should a parent want their child to live a life of suffering, pretending to be who they are not. If your kid comes to you about this and you force them to be ‘normal’ and they get married to the opposite sex and have kids even, sooner or later, he or she would go back to who (s)he is. Would you be happy if you found out your spouse was cheating on you with someone of the same sex?”

“The Same Sex Prohibition Act is unfair and a violation of human rights, as the police and people use it to victimize gay people…”

“Many people see homosexuality as just sex between individuals of the same sex, but it is way more than that…”

“If you’ve hung out with a group of gay people, you’ll find that they are actually the nicest and coolest people, they are so real and kind and accommodating…”

“Heterosexuality is popular, but who says it is normal?”

Even our lecturer was of the opinion that “you only live once, so why should you live a miserable life? A life someone else thinks is the right way to live? You have the right to live a happy and fulfilled life.” She also advised the class to get She Called Me Woman and read it, saying that it was time for us to step out of our comfort zones.

As I participated in this class discussion, I wanted to speak a lot at different times. I wanted to grab that microphone many times and debunk so many fallacies, but the lecturer wouldn’t give me the mic because I’d spoken once before and she wanted others to contribute.

I know we still have a very long way to go, but I am happy that there are people who are open-minded and willing to listen and understand us, our pain and help us too.

Written by Alamu

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  1. Queen Blue Fox
    September 07, 07:48 Reply

    Back in Uni we had a lecturer who was homophobic and I was kinda I don’t care what anyone thinks. Well we had minor disagreements on how he viewed homosexuality, long story short? I wrote that course twice.

    • trystham
      September 07, 19:53 Reply

      ??? I had hoped to see how he came to see the light. How very anticlimactic

  2. Wiffey
    September 07, 07:52 Reply

    Fellow Brethren

    There is hope for this our valley of shadows we call a country, how do I know?

    If intellectual conversations such as this can happen within classrooms without lectures not being bias then we surely have a future.

  3. Luka
    September 07, 09:41 Reply

    Please how do I get a copy of that book ” She called me Woman?

    • Pink Panther
      September 07, 12:42 Reply

      Reach out to Cassava Republic on either twitter or instagram. Or Roving Heights on isntagram. They do deliveries too.

  4. Patrick
    September 07, 11:37 Reply

    My take is that we need more gay people in positions of power. Intellectuals. Only then will we be able to hold sway and influence public opinion; only then will we be able to help ourselves.

    We can’t afford to be poor and directionless, while being gay and Nigerian. It’s a recipe for suicide. That’s why I say: Try to build a career.

    Imagine if the lecturer were gay, he would allow the discourse to develop alright, but he’d drop some strong closing arguments. He would point out the irrationality of homophobia.

    I felt that in a Law class, the issue should be broached in the framework of human rights, not personal opinion. But I remember that this is Nigeria.

    • flame
      September 08, 22:07 Reply

      Right, some of the arguments just didn’t make sense. Especially in tge context of Human rights.

  5. Law
    September 07, 11:42 Reply

    Where I used to work before advertised for graduate trainee positions, i was surprised when i saw that “…… Doesnt discriminate against tribe, gender, sexual orientation…..” I was shocked reading it.

  6. Patrick
    September 07, 14:15 Reply

    REALLY!!!?? It’s bold and hope-inspiring. Please which organization is that? They deserve a closer look.

    I would presume that a certain high-ranking person in that organization isn’t straight.

    Hi, Law

  7. Malik
    September 07, 15:48 Reply

    I’m totally for conversations like this. I know that homophobic people will always be there, and will often be louder, but in the end, when we challenge stereotypes, we help people confront their biases and become better people. Na small small. Thank you for starting the conversation Alamo.

  8. Michael
    September 07, 22:40 Reply

    If I finally get to be a lecturer as I intend to, every class I teach must have a discussion like this. They will even do assignments self. Like an essay arguing for or against homosexuality strictly from scientific view (10marks).

    • Patrick
      September 08, 02:58 Reply

      That would depend on your field na. Do you plan on getting a PhD in Queer studies?
      Would you be teaching physics 302 and ask students to write about homosexuality?

      • trystham
        September 08, 07:07 Reply

        As very unrealistic as his talk sounds, no subject matter stands alone. The physics of homosexuality could be related to health and well being. I have had friends who have studied Health and Medical PHYSICS for their Masters

        • flame
          September 08, 22:10 Reply

          ‘Physics of homosexuality?’ Really? Then y’all would go on to write an equation on homosexuality?

  9. flame
    September 08, 18:02 Reply

    The heroine here for me is the lecturer; for creating a safe space for honest and logical conversations such as these. Oh, how I mourn not being in the Arts. I will become a professor someday, and I wonder if opportunity would ever present itself to replay this scene with my students in an ‘immunology or pathology’ class.

  10. Michael
    September 08, 18:23 Reply

    Homosexuality can easily fit into microbial genetics or immunology and immunochemistry. So, that’s not a problem.

    • flame
      September 08, 22:17 Reply

      Certainly, but I doubt a (medical) science class, is the best place to expect a cross fertilization of ideas on homosexuality, especially in the context of Human rights.

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