There is a popular saying in the media; there is nothing like bad publicity. Basically when you add the negative and positive response to something, it all counts as visibility. This is why most people are talking about gay rights and in the midst of so many sides and public attention, the deadly homophobic signs might go unnoticed.
In the struggle for visibility, who is really concerned and who is just part of the problem? I want to analyse 3 homophobic scenarios that happened recently and point out what makes them deadly to gay rights and how they can successfully fly under the homophobic radar.
The Green Snake:
People always assume that the problem with the green snake is its colour but instead the problem is whether or not the snake is poisonous. This analogy brings me to the case of Donald Duke saying he won’t criminalise gay people if he gets elected President in Nigeria’s 2019 election. Lemme start by saying his interview with Falz and Laila Johnson Salami was great, all of his ideas were progressive and he gave actual solutions to many pressing problems.
But he followed his promise to not criminalise LGBT persons with statements that proved he was indeed a homophobe and this was probably a ploy to get more progressive voters on his side. According to him, it would be okay to practise homosexuality within the confines of the home, privately, but he wouldn’t tolerate any public display of homosexuality like kissing and exhibiting traits in public. Initially I thought his case was pointing out the difference between general public safety for LGBT persons in a society that isn’t ready to accept them and passing a protective law to safeguard them, but I soon realised Donald Duke had no intention to pass such a law.
Laila asked him if he thought it was fair that she could kiss her boyfriend in public and a gay man couldn’t, he then said “He can’t do that because the law prohibits that”. Obviously hinting at the SSMPA, making it obvious that there would still be a law criminalizing gay people in his regime. Obviously a lawyer like Donald Duke knows that you actually have to pass a law to protect people and no law can really protect the gay man in Nigeria with the SSMPA still standing. He goes on to show a strong sense of disgust for gay practices by saying he would slap Falz if he tried to kiss him and any gay member of his cabinet should be prepared to leave his gayness at home, far from public eyes. This is already the current situation of the gay man in Nigeria the only thing new is a promise to protect that doesn’t add up.
Take all these things and put them in a cup, what do you have? He might talk about helping the gay man from a life of injustice but leaving laws to prevent his access to equal human rights is nothing short of homophobic.
Sign: Looks unharmful but can be potentially dangerous.
Symptoms: Progressiveness, Supposedly Good Intentions and Cliams to be unharmful.
The law of conflict dictates; the more friends you have on your side the better your chances at winning. The reason why Allys are so important to the gay rights movement is because there is strength in numbers. To make sure I used the term ‘Frenemy’ correctly I googled the word and found a picture of 2 friends hugging. One friend was so happy for the hug he didn’t notice the other had a knife to his back. The person holding a knife in this case of homophobia is our beloved Pope Francis.
While giving a press conference, The Pope was recently asked what he would say to parents who observe homosexual traits in their children. And he started his reply by encouraging parents to show love and support to their gay children, to pray with them and to listen to them. But, he then says the next thing to do is seek psychiatric help, and by doing so he associated homosexuality with mental illness. There is already a specific term for treating sexual orientation with psychiatric help and it is called Conversion Therapy; the practice of trying to change an individual’s sexual orientation from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual using psychological or spiritual interventions/experiments.
Pope Francis even goes on to suggest underage kids who show homosexual traits should be committed as well. This recent statement tries to paint him as someone friendly to the plight of gay kids but his advice for conversion therapy undeniably paints him as a foe. Even though conversion therapy is known to be harmful, unscientific and barbaric, he goes on to encourage his 1 billion Catholic followers to mentally torture the gay away in their kids. Conversion Therapy has already been banned in several countries but there is no telling how many percieved/actual gay kids will become victims now that their parents have the backing of The Pope.
The Frenemy homophobe seeks to put up a concerned/sympathetic identity but their actions prove dangerous and harmful to the gay community.
Sign: Friendship, Kindnesss & like to give hugs.
Symptoms: Bad advice, Has supporters, Feels Untouchable.
The Human Rights Activist:
My new favourite saying is; We learn everyday. And today’s lesson shows us that the most loosely used term is ‘Human Rights,’ and this can be seen in the case of Segun Sega Awosanya. He did a good job by championing the #EndSars trend and speaking up against police brutality and the abuse of basic human rights but he apparently doesn’t think gay people deserve the same rights.
The Rustin Times recently reported the case of about 80 allegedly gay persons getting arrested at a party in Egbeda. When such an injustice occurs it is understandable that we look to the supposed champions of human rights for help as one of the victims did by tweeting at Mr Segun popularly know by his handle @segalink. Unfortunately his response wasn’t as supportive as expected, instead it was met with a tone of agreement on the side of the police and a comparison of gay people and paedophilia.
Personally, I think if our Pope doesn’t know the difference between torture and friendly advice then why should we expect someone who fights against police brutality and injustice to fight against the same police brutality and injustice? Mr Segun is a civil rights/human rights champion that tackles institutional reform except when it comes to LGBTQ persons and feminism. In the case of LGBTQ persons he even endorses police brutality and injustice.
The moral of this scenario is that Human Rights Activist’s can be part of the problem too. Let us now make an effort to read between the lines when people address human rights and civil rights issues so we can decipher the homophobic tendencies before we stan.
Sign: Claims to fight for human rights but also enforces injustice for others.
Symptoms: Has 2 faces, Exhibits Partiality, Very Opinionated, Probably doesn’t own a dictionary to research the definition of Human being, Paedophile and rights.
Modern day homophobia walks among us, talks with us, sits with us, smiles with us eat/drinks with us all under the pretence that they are on our side or under the assumption that they understand human rights. Let us learn from these examples as we work towards the hope of a better and safer society. What do you think about these sign? Do you have one you would also like to share? Drop a comment and let’s keep the conversation going.
Emmanuel Sadi is a Lagos based writer, who considers himself to be one of the greatest writers and human rights activist (In the making). He wakes up thinking; Evil must not triumph and tries to make a difference.