Just think for a moment: what if the equation is reversed and gays are hunting down, kidnapping, stigmatizing and raping straight people?
Of course, the government would come to the rescue, arrest everything that smells of homosexuality in the country, slap a 14-year jail price-tag on them while you go back home, in your broken reverie, devoid of any iota of remorse about the tortures meted out on fellow humans like you. Because, like it is unanimously agreed, “gays are the new anti-Christ.”
The victimization of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people did not just crop into our realization. It has its roots in the bland books wholeheartedly believed by Christians. Sodom was the birthplace of the religion-favored demolition of homosexuals that gays all over the African continent are still plagued with.
2009 was the year. Uganda was the place. David Bahati, the Ugandan Minister, had concocted an anti-homosexuals bill, a sort of ‘kill the gays’ fatwa. The church in South Africa had pronounced a ‘corrective rape’ festivity to complement the salad of pain that was to be the broth for everyone with a different gender identity. Lesbians were raped in church premises by young men commissioned for the task by the church. Gays were raped, too. That declaration was the one that cemented Africa’s title as the ‘Dark Continent’. Or what is more grotesque than the state-commissioned murder, brutalization and dehumanization of humans because their sexual orientation differs from ours? Perhaps the lake of fire awaiting non-Christians?
In 2014, Nigeria joined the homophobic madness. The Goodluck Jonathan administration—a rather clueless one—in trying to give some respite to its vocal critics, most of whom were Christians, passed an anti-gay law (a 14-year jail term as the price for a ‘different’ sexuality). It was going to be a wrong time to be gay or lesbian. Your life was in danger. Every Ugandan, Nigerian, South African had the country’s backing to maim you. The killing of gays in those places was a state-affair.
Religious idiosyncrasies favour violence. Islam prays: Kill the infidels. Christianity portends a ‘bottomless lake of fire for anyone who does not wish to ‘see the ‘father’ through Jesus’. Little wonder Christians are mostly in support of the degradation of gays. The antecedents of their religion claim that the 2 billion Muslims and billions of other people who embrace different faiths would roast in hell. Violence is a thing religion craves.
Until we step out, momentarily, out of our cold religious indoctrination, there is the tendency that coexistence between people of different sexual conformity would only be a myth.
There are churches in Europe. Gays and Lesbians and other members of the LGBT community attend these churches without being stigmatized. This is possible because, unlike us, they have been able to successfully compartmentalize these facts, and have drawn a conclusion that humans are humans, whether gay or straight. And no, they will not go to your hell.
Perhaps, Africans’ incurable penchant for killing themselves is why we would still find it difficult to realize that LGBT people were humans before their sexualities became defined. The excuse that ‘god loves humans but hate gays’ shows the lack of rudimentary knowledge and empathy that most Christians suffer. The bible records that ‘god saw that everything he made was good. But you still do not notice the contradiction in the fact that gays were created perfectly by god—they were created good—but you think they are faultless creatures because they are humans like you, but you think otherwise. Why not just leave them to the whims and caprices of ‘god’ on the Day of Judgment.
A young lesbian in Uganda was subjected to “corrective rape”, intended to bring her back into the heterosexual fold in 2014. The attack left her pregnant and HIV-positive and no more attracted to men.
In South Africa, brutalizing or killing someone because of their sexual orientation is no hate crime. Rape is under reported and most offenders get away scot-free. In February 2006, Zoliswa Nkonyana, 19, was murdered for being a lesbian by male beasts who wanted to make her a ‘real’ woman – even if it meant killing her. They broke her head with rocks because she had a sexuality they deemed ‘immoral.
In 2008, Eudy Simelane, a South African footballer who played for the South Africa women’s national football team and an LGBT-rights activist was raped and murdered in her hometown of KwaThema, Springs, South Africa. Eudy Simelane suffered a brutal, undignified death. She was stripped naked, stabbed 25 times in the face, chest and legs, assaulted, and raped. What more indignity can a person endure? Even though she had more to offer the country in terms of sports, her life was snuffed out, like a candle in the wind, because she was not a ‘normal woman’.
One sorry fact ties these stories: they all are going unrecognized by the state and unpunished by the legal system. In the Nkonyana case, initial investigations were slow, and the civic alliance accuses the state of negligence. In 2008 the state failed to ensure witnesses were present and was found to have committed gross negligence. Defence attorneys routinely missed court appearances without repercussion. In 2010 four of the accused escaped from their holding cells.
86% of black lesbians from the Western Cape said they lived in fear of sexual assault. Research released last year by Triangle, a leading South African gay rights organization, revealed that it is dealing with up to 10 new cases of “corrective rape” every week.
This recurring violence has been underreported. The state pretends like hate crimes, including corrective rape, are no crimes. What this tells us is that, in countries where violence against the LGBT community is rife, you are responsible for your own safety. The government does not care about you. Because you are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender, the law will not protect you.
On the home front, Bisi Alimi miraculously escaped murder in April 2007, in Lagos. In February 2016, Akinnifesi Olumide Olubunmi was beaten to death by an angry mob in Ondo state. On June 1, 2017, Chibuihe Obi, a writer with Brittle Paper was kidnapped. Their crimes: They were gay. These illustrations tell you that the LGBT community is an endangered species and something urgent needs to be done to salvage the situation. Gays will continue to be raped, lynched, murdered in cold blood, and arrested, like in the latest development where more than 40 men were arrested in Lagos over the weekend for ‘performing homosexual acts’. Gays will not know peace until Nigerians know that gays too can organise reprisals when one of them is touched. Maybe the ‘all for one, one for all’ rubric is an ideology that the LGBT community should live by.
Sometimes, it does a whole lot of good if the enemy knows that he is not untouchable. Let him harbour a deep fear of you like you do him. As such, it may be time for the LGBT community to stand up in military fashion. What if these insensate killings do not abate? What if straight people continue to kill gays and lesbians? What then do helpless do? Wait, cowardly in fear, cowed by the thundering of violence, and watch haplessly, while some idiots kill them for pleasure? One day, someday, the violence against members of the LGBT community has to stop. And it won’t until something concrete is done; before it gets to the state of things in 1967, where killing the Igbos was not a crime. Something must be done. Now!
In the meantime, cuss all you want, kidnap as much as you fancy, rape all you can, but one thing is undisputable: Gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender have come to stay; they aren’t going anywhere. They have a right to be here, just like you do. And when your madness persists, maybe we’d reverse the case, eventually, flip the chart, and the hunted will become hunters. Then we’ll see where that takes us.
Adefolami Ademola is a poet, teacher, social Commentator and content writer. His writings have been featured on both literary and general news blogs like Ynaija, Akoma, Sentinel Literary Quarterly, New Orleans Review, Prosopisia among others. He currently resides in Lagos, where he works as Public Relations Executive when he is not hammering on salient societal flaws on social media.