Uche Sam, Director of Changing Attitude Nigeria, is presenting a position paper at the hearing in Abuja on Monday on the Same Gender marriage prohibition bill 2011. Uche will be sending reports from the hearing on Monday which will be reported here on the web site.
Our great country of Nigeria is blessed with people from so many different classes, faith groups, cultures, ethnic backgrounds and social status. We are also blessed with people of diverse gender and sexuality. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGB&T) people are an integral part of our national community, secular and religious. Our presence as members of the community cannot be overlooked because we also contribute to what makes this country of Nigeria a great nation.
Laws should be designed to protect citizens from hatred, crime and discrimination. The proposed same gender marriage prohibition bill will add to the discrimination, prejudice and hatred against LGB&T Nigerians if signed into law. When a proposed law threatens harm to some of our citizens then we need to check and correct that which is wrong.
The proposed bill to prohibit same gender marriage has many negative implications which affect the rights of sexual and gender minorities. It will not bring about justice for all. it will add to the climate in Nigeria where individual gays and lesbians are the victims of blackmail, Job discrimination, police harassment, shunning by families and even mob violence. This stigmatization of LGBT people leads to self-hatred or internalized homophobia which results in high rate of depression, alcoholism and even suicide.
What causes homosexuality?
The answer to this question is argued about a great deal. The most recent answer is that we do not know with absolute certainty. None of the theories can definitively explain the great variety of same sex sexual behaviors that appears around the world in different cultures across time. The fact that homosexuality appears frequently in nature clearly destroys the argument that homosexuality is unnatural. Nature is unquestionably one of the many factors that plays a role in determining a person’s sexuality, heterosexual as well as homosexual. The attraction to people of same sex for a minority is hard wired into their brains and cells.
(Source: Unspoken Facts: a history of homosexuality in Africa – Published 2008; ISBN 9780797434837)
A minority of people are born lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. It is not a choice people make but the way some are created by God. Research has shown that sexual diversity is a natural state in creation, for animals as well as for humans. To force someone to act against their true nature as this bill would do is in effect to torture them.
Our country is confronted with many urgent and serious challenges. The presence of LGB&T peoples in our communities is not a threat or a challenge but a gift. There are intelligent, faithful lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in our federal and local governments and in the Christian and Muslim faith communities. Every person in our country will have a family member, colleague or friend who is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, even if they are not able to identify them.
Now is the time not to look at people’s sexuality as the key that defines them, but to look at the contribution each one of us can bring to society and to promote our country be you gay, straight, bisexual or transgender. We should not look at being gay as a problem to our society but how people live their lives the right way to bring peace, love and unity to our dear country, because peace and unity will only come when we all see ourselves as one and show respect and dignity to each one person, then face the challenges that face our country and fight for the growth of it.
Under Article 214 of the Nigerian Penal Code a person who has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature is liable to 14 years imprisonment. Our country should be seeking to repeal this law which is used to criminalize homosexual people, rather than passing a new law which is unnecessary and will fuel prejudice and put the next generation at even higher risk of violence.
Same gender loving people form happy, faithful, loving relationships in the same way as heterosexual people. Their love does not affect the quality of Nigerian society in a negative way but helps to build social stability and maintains the common good. It is time to increase the share of love for each other and banish laws that harm the well being of minorities. If passed, this law will not add to the common good but will bring more hardship to the citizens of our country and sadness to the families of homosexual children. Many LGB&T people who make a positive impact and promote our country are running away to countries where their safety and human rights are protected.
I speak to the conscience of your heart to give justice to all, show love, respect and dignity to everyone one in Nigeria whatever their sexuality, because being gay, straight, bisexual or transgender is not the problem. Our challenge is to discover how we can all join hands and focus on building one Nigeria, promoting peace and creative environment for everyone.