Community, Op-Ed

Jide Macaulay: A response to the wave of homophobia in Nigeria #OwodeArrest

In the past few years since the passing of the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act 2013, a wave of violence entrenched in absolute ignorance and oppression has been unleashed on the gay community.

However, things are worse now.

In the past few days, there have been stories of abuses in Nigeria. First, a video was brought to my attention of two men being assaulted and terrorised for being gay. It soon escalated to the men being physically assaulted whilst the assailants, a group of men off camera interrogated them about the enjoyment of anal sex and what payment the younger man received. At the end of the video, the men were being beaten and forced to strip.

Later in the evening I received a second video, it is now dark and the same men who were accused of being gay can be seen naked and being paraded in the streets dimly lit with lights from torches and phone lights. It appeared in this second video that the horror of the day had escalated to the dehumanisation of these persons. They were both naked and the mob had increased in numbers; several with sticks beating the two men and forcing them to parade the streets and the verbal abuses more intense. These videos have gone viral on social media further exposing the men to more assaults. In this video, you can see the fear on the face of the men alleged to be homosexuals; their faces and body swollen from physical abuses inflicted.

I can hear the cries of the men and it was obvious that the brutality of the assaults had rendered them hopeless. In situations like this, it takes a strike of a match and petrol to set them ablaze. This is what is known as “jungle justice” in Nigeria. It involves citizens taking the law into their own hands. From the moment I was informed, we have been trying effortlessly to find out the whereabouts of these men and we have failed to locate them wounded, alive or dead. They have suddenly disappeared. What happened to them is another anomaly.

It is clear from the video evidence that a crime has been committed against these two men, of which the state has a responsibility to law and order and also to equal protection of all citizens. I now understand that the area in which this violence and assault took place was Edo. There were suggestions of tribal conflicts between the Hausa man one of the victims and the people from the Edo area.

The next video that surfaced was of a transwoman who was being asked to strip whilst men and children mocked her. The voices in the video were clearly in Hausa. Whilst there was no evidence of violence in this video, it was clearly a case of humiliation and breach of human rights.

In the last 24 hours’ news had broken in Nigeria that 70 men were apprehended at a private party. I have had the privilege of making contact with people on the ground in Nigeria, who informed me that this was a project attached to HIV sexual health screening, counselling and testing programme. In other words, an essential public health intervention. The health of men who have sex with men is equally important and for an event to be intercepted with false accusations of immoral homosexual acts without evidence and or contrary to such is a violation of human rights to a peaceful assembly.

The Human Rights of LGBTIQ Nigerians are persistently violated, see http://www.yogyakartaprinciples.org/principles-en/

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Human beings of all sexual orientations and gender identities are entitled to the full enjoyment of all human rights.”

Nigeria and Nigerians take matters into their own hands and have allowed extortion, blackmail and corruption to supersede common sense. The silence of the leaders and faith leaders on the violence against the LGBTIQ people is increasingly deafening.

The interpretation of human rights of LGBTIQ people is silent but these are unspoken rights guaranteed by Sections 17 (2) A & B of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution also indicated in Articles 2 & 3 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

It is heartbreaking that, the police have used their powers and resources with poor judgement and the application of the laws has been used unwisely and unjustly against an already marginalized community. There will always be homosexuals and or same gender loving people in Nigeria. It is time that the country and legislators reason and help put an end to the unnecessary violence and injustice. Whilst we acknowledge the insatiable desire to get rid of all gays, we must be mindful that we are also citizens of Nigeria and if we are to be collectively responsible for protecting the rights of all people, there is no other time but now.

We are calling on all government and human right agencies to condemn the violence against the LGBTIQ community, to end injustices on the streets, to protect LGBTIQ citizens from extortion and violence and end discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

 

Jide Macaulay is a British-Nigerian and is the founding Pastor and CEO of House Of Rainbow CIC. He is an inspirational speaker, author, poet, pastor and HIV activist. He holds a degree in Law, masters degree in Theology and Post-graduate Certificate in Pastoral Theology. He is also the author of Poetry Inspired 2001 and Pocket Devotion for LGBT Christians 2005. He has won several awards including the 2003 and 2007 Black LGBT Community Award for “Man of the Year” for his work helping people of faith. He was also shortlisted for the National Diversity Awards 2014, in the category for Positive Role Model. He served from 2007 to 2013 as Executive Board member and Co Chair of Pan Africa International Lesbians and Gay Association. He is currently Africa Regional Representative at Global Interfaith Network, Board of Trustee at Kaleidoscope Trust UK, and a Trained Volunteer Champion at Africa Children’s Charity.

 

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed in this Op-Ed by the Writer are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Rustin Times.

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