” Madiba, your time in prison was without any lesson to us, to the rest of Africa, we the Nigerians are giving you the finger!”
By Melanie Nathan, November 16, 2012.
Nigeria is about to pass legislation that will provide for the arrest, conviction and jailing of all its gay and lesbian people. What lessons should people of Africa such as the Nigerians take from the legacy of Madiba Nelson Mandela. Read on.
“Nigerian lawmakers moved a step closer Tuesday to approving a bill that would harshly crack down on gay rights, including banning same-sex marriage and public displays of affection between homosexual couples.
The bill which has already been approved by the Senate passed a second reading in the House of Representatives with an unanimous vote and will now see a clause-by-clause review in the chamber at an undetermined date.
“It is alien to our society and culture and it must not be imported,” House majority leader Mulikat Adeola-Akande said during debate, referring to same-sex marriage. “Religion abhors it and our culture has no place for it,” she added.
House minority leader Femi Gbajabiamila said the bill represents “convergence of both law and morality.” He said that same-sex marriage “is both illegal and immoral.”
Nigeria’s senate in November 2011 approved the bill that would make same-sex marriages punishable by up to 14 years for the couple and 10 for anyone abetting such unions.
It also set out a 10-year sentence for “any person who … directly or indirectly makes public show of same-sex amorous relationships”.
Gay organisations would also be made illegal, leading some to raise concerns over whether funding channeled through non-governmental organisations in Nigeria for AIDS treatment would be put in jeopardy.” Read more.
In a milieu where the educated world is starting to embrace equality, ignorance, lies, misinformation and bigotry still prevail in Africa, the Middle Eastern and some Asian countries.
There are so many disadvantages to the people of Nigeria if this legislation passes, which may well surpass the perceived and fallacious notions of harm upon which the legislation is based:-
1. Oliver Anene, Coordinator of the Initiative for Improved Male Health states one such concern:
“The spread of HIV in the country is fueled by the growing stigma and discrimination of people, and a legislation as this will only make it more difficult to provide services to our highly productive youth burdened by the epidemic, irrespective of sexual orientation or gender identity. We humbly implore our law makers to really consider the long term consequences of this bill on the social security of our youth;”
2. Witch hunt and persecution of the LGBTI community;
3. Boycotts of tourism and hospitality spearheaded by international LGBTI community;
5. Impact on trade and corporations doing business in Nigeria, such as Google, Microsoft, Banking industry, all who have diversity programs to encourage the hiring of LGBTI people;
6. Impact on gay diplomats and the dipplomatic community;
While all countries are entitled to their sovereignty and to legislate accordingly, what the Nigerian lawmakers do not realize is that the very basis and premise of their legislation against homosexuality is based on the false notion that gays and lesbians cause harm to society, that homosexuality is a chosen sexuality as opposed to a natural consequence of human sexuality in s broad spectrum, as scientifically proven, and, inter alia, that the Evangelical Christian interpretation of Bible ought to rule and prevail in the criminal and civil law of a country.
The legislation will fly in the face of the United Nation’s Declaration on Human Rights and there is no doubt that if passed, Nigeria will be a country guilty of the legal persecution of a minority of its citizens, justifying its isolation, in a manner similar to what South Africa experienced during its years of Apartheid.
That said, let me note that the international gay community will make martyrs of each and every LGBTI person jailed under this law – we will use this abhorrent threat to teach the World about the truth of homosexuality – we are not molesters, nor deviants, nor criminals; and nor should we be defined by our sexual orientations, we are not a behavior – we are people with good hearts who do not choose our orientation, but do believe we have the right to love where our hearts and natural born physiology leads, just as anyone else does.
When former South African President and iconic Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Nelson Mandela was released from prison, he said “never again” would any minority in South Africa suffer discrimination or persecution and so he ensured that sexual orientation and gender identity were protected by the SA Constitution’s Bill of Rights. Nigerians currently flock in droves to South Africa seeking a better life down South. I cannot imagine that Nelson Mandela and his philosophy about life and sexuality and freedom and human right would go without respect in Nigeria. yet, if the Nigerian Parliament passes this Jail the Gays law, they are looking Mandela in the eye and saying – ” Madiba, your time in prison was without any lesson to us, to the rest of Africa.” It would be tantamount to saying, “Madiba, we the Nigerians are giving you the finger!”
― Nelson Mandela
― Nelson Mandela
― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom: Autobiography of Nelson Mandela
“I dream of an Africa which is in peace with itself.”
― Nelson Mandela
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