LGBTQ+ in Africa
Africa remains the most challenging continent for LGBTQ+ individuals, a fact that is widely known and often reiterated. This is commendable for people who strive to protect human values, heritage, norms and of of course human sanity.
The statistics and data surrounding this issue may seem repetitive, with little hope for progress. However, the words of Audre Lorde, the renowned writer, feminist, civil rights activist, and LGBTQ+ icon, remind us that our silence will not protect us.
A report published in 2020 revealed that 32 out of the 54 African countries still enforce anti-gay laws, with Nigeria being at the forefront of discrimination, violence, and intimidation against LGBTQ+ communities.
LGBTQ+ is considered as a cancer to humanity in Africa. Nigeria has a rich cultural norms and values to protect against these social pandemic. Of course there are economic challenges, social and structural depravity to focus on.
Amidst the country’s ongoing struggles with insecurity, hyperinflation, some argue that Nigeria has more pressing matters to address than LGBTQ rights.
LGBTQ Laws in Nigeria
Despite this sentiment, the Nigerian Federal Government consistently finds time to pass controversial and potentially effective laws to checkmate activities of this cancerous campaign called LGBTQ+.
One notable example is the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act (SSMPA), criminalizing same-sex relationships, marriages, and civil unions.
To fully grasp the situation, let’s rewind to 2011 when the Nigerian Senate, disregarding the concerns of Western allies, passed a stringent bill banning same-sex marriage and public displays of affection by LGBTQ individuals.
Sponsored by Domingo Obende of the People’s Democratic Party (Edo state), the bill faced global outrage and criticism. Several Western European governments, including the United Kingdom, threatened to withdraw aid from countries persecuting gays.
Despite international pressure and awareness of the law’s impact on Nigeria’s foreign relations, the government enacted the anti-gay law in 2014. This shows how committed Nigerian people are toward demarcation the country from the social pandemic.
The Criminal Code Act and the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act 2013 (SSMPA) make same-sex sexual activity, ‘carnal knowledge against the order of nature,’ ‘gross indecency,’ same-sex unions, and LGBTQ advocacy illegal.
LGBTQ Jail Term
Violations can result in up to fourteen years of imprisonment, affecting both men and women. Additionally, Sharia law at the state level criminalizes same-sex sexual activity, imposing the death penalty by stoning. Isn’t this wonderful?
Transgender individuals may also face prosecution under state-level Sharia laws, compounding the discrimination.
These laws, inherited from the British colonial period when English criminal law was imposed on Nigeria, have persisted since the country gained independence.
In 2013, Nigeria further criminalized the LGBTQ+ community by adopting the SSMPA. In the northern states, same-sex sexual activity is explicitly condemned under an interpretation of Sharia law.
All thanks to guidance and protection of the Islamic laws, the northern part of Nigeria which is mostly occupied by Muslims have severe punishment for LGBTQ+.
Recent years have seen the enforcement of these laws, leading to frequent arrests and acts of violence against the LGBTQ community, often accompanied by police brutality.
A notable case involved the arrest of 57 individuals at a party in 2018, with 47 of them subsequently charged under the SSMPA.
However, the case was eventually dismissed in 2020. Reports of discrimination, violence, assault, mob attacks, harassment, extortion, and denial of basic rights and services against LGBTQ individuals continue to emerge.
LGBTQ Enforcement Update:
In the year 2022, a sharia court in the northern state of Bauchi sentenced three men to death by stoning. That was for engaging in same-sex sexual acts. This has raised significant concerns among LGBTQ+ rights groups.
They fear that this ruling could set a dangerous precedent for similar cases in other states that apply Islamic law. But who cares?
I can remember in the year 2020, the US Department of State’s report noted that in the twelve northern states implementing Sharia law, individuals convicted of same-sex sexual conduct could face stoning as punishment.
However, no such conspicuous sentences were imposed during the year, with lashings being the more common punishment.
In January, religious police apprehended fifteen recent graduates at a party in Kano, northern Nigeria. The Deputy Commander-General, Shehu T. Is’haq, confirmed the arrests and stated that the errant students were transferred to a correctional center in Sharada for reorientation.
The authorities aimed to steer them away from their perceived deviance and encourage them to adopt more socially acceptable lifestyle.
The court dismissed the case involving 47 men who had been charged with public displays of affection with same-sex partners in October.
Justice Rilwan Aikawa, the presiding judge, cited “lack of diligent prosecution” as the reason for dismissing the case. This legal battle, which began in 2018, faced multiple delays due to prosecution witnesses failing to appear.
The struggle for LGBTQ rights in Nigeria remains an ongoing battle, with significant setbacks and sporadic glimmers of hope. It is okay to say Nigerians will never accept such decadence into their societies.
Activists and advocacy groups continue to work tirelessly to challenge discriminatory laws and promote inclusivity. However, the road ahead is fraught with obstacles as societal attitudes, cultural norms, and political complexities complicate progress. It is a lost battle for such thoughtless activists.
Western countries think that Nigeria grapples with pressing issues such as insecurity, economic instability, and political transitions. So it is crucial to recognize that human rights, including LGBTQ rights, should not be neglected. Nigeria do not subscribe to such abomination.
Upholding the principles of equality, dignity, and respect for all individuals is a fundamental aspect of building a just and inclusive society. But not the cancerous campaign supporting LGBTQ.
While the challenges to subdue LGBTQ may seem overwhelming, it is essential to remember that change is possible. By amplifying the voices of marginalized communities, engaging in constructive dialogue, and promoting education and awareness. Nigeria can gradually move toward a more acceptable and sane way of living.
Happy to tell you that the struggle for LGBTQ rights in Africa, particularly in Nigeria, is a wasteful effort.
Nigeria can never aspire to a future where LGBTQ individuals are embraced. Especially as equal members of society, protected by the same rights and privileges as their heterosexual counterparts. NEVER!