The effect of the taboo against same-sex marriage in Nigeria

At the New Year, Uche Sam, Director of Changing Attitude Nigeria, sent a message to his members in the context of the anti-gay marriage act. He began by sharing his fear that at the turn of the year, Nigeria is harbouring a lot of homes where husbands will be unfaithful to their wives and families. Ignorance about LGB&T lives in Nigeria and the way in which gay men and lesbians are forced to marry is one of the reasons for infidelity. Uche wrote about the experienced of CAN members:

Marriage in an important part of every person’s life. Everyone wants love and will one day decide to spend his or her life with someone whom they truly love and will live together as one. In Africa and in Nigeria marriage is highly valued and respected and for anyone to have a say in Nigeria and be respected, you must be a married man and maintain a family. Marriage is only seen between a man and a woman.

In Nigeria marriage between a same sex couple is seen as a taboo and is not to be mentioned in conversation. It is condemned as un-African, satanic and uncultured. Year in and year out same-sex loving people are denied marriage and happiness and are being forced to go against their natural wishes and to please the society by living in a fake marriage for the rest of their live’s.

The Bible in so many places talks about marriage (e.g. Genesis 2:24) and it says that a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and they shall be one. But most people don’t see that gay partners can also come together to share and enjoy that kind of love in marriage.

In Nigeria when a man is getting close to the age of 30, people keep asking him where is your wife and when will you be getting married. They make statement like: you are the next; let’s see your fiancé; you are getting old; what year or date is your wedding? When all these question start to be asked, then a gay person is faced with no other option than to go into a fake marriage with a woman to please his family and society and culture, forgetting that marriage is a life time commitment to fidelity.

In 2010 we recorded 5 members of Changing Attitude Nigeria who got married due to their age and the pressure from family members for them to get married and that means marriage with the opposite sex which is not their nature. And at the end of the day, these marriages are based on a false intention which leads to unfaithfulness, cheating and lies, because they will always prefer to be who they really are which is being gay.

I spoke to each of these married gay men. They said they don’t have any sexual feelings for their new wives, but they have to force themselves to conform with societies needs and the culture of Nigeria. At the same time they think of ways to satisfy their wives and also keep an outside relationship with a man or woman depending whether they are gay or lesbian.

Our research also shows that most married men who are gay at the age of 45 to 50 leave their wives, homes and families to get real love from their male partners. Is this the kind of domestic life our culture wants us to build, where people commit more harm rather than good? Another who spoke to me said he is so afraid that the marriage will collapse someday because he cannot perform like a man with his wife compared with when he is with a man.

This anti-gay culture, in which we live and try as much as possible to please and conform turns its back on us and harms us. It forces us to live fake lives and makes married partners cheat on their wives. Why will this culture not accept us and allow us to love who we truly want to love as nature demands from us?

Currently in Nigeria a Bill is about to be passed into law to criminalize same sex marriage. Even with the already existing law against LGB&T persons in Nigeria which has caused a lot of discrimination, Nigeria still insist by going ahead to make this new law without looking at the implications.

We are LGB&T Christians who believe strongly in the word of God and we don’t see ourselves as demonic or possessed people.

Same-sex loving people live fake married lives to please our culture and in return it affects us deeply and at the end leads to broken homes as soon as the wife discovers that her husband is gay and has cheated her.

At the moment Changing Attitude Nigeria has two cases of broken homes due to the fact that the wife discovered about her husband’s sexuality. Those gay men whose wives don’t know do all they can to prevent them from knowing and keep their secret.

Nigerian culture is killing us and makes life hard for us. Marriage should be respected and be between two loving partners. But our culture rather promotes fake marriages and broken homes in our country Nigeria and I am so afraid because this number will increase with the anti-gay marriage bill.

Now we ask for change, but we ask how that change will come about in a country that is so hard hearted? It remains a mystery because our religious leaders are not ready to explore the Bible and see the uniqueness of God’s creation. We all hope for a better change in Nigeria and Africa at large in 2012.

Uche Sam
Director: Changing Attitude Nigeria.


  1. Graham says

    It’s so sad that some people should have such a limited understanding of what marriage is about . . . and that they should try to use the Bible to justify their ignorance and bigotry.
    While it’s true that in Genesis 2.24 we do find a positive affirmation of marriage (“Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh.”), most of the other references to the meaning of marriage in the Law of Moses are so negative as to make me wonder how marriage has survived as an institution.
    > a man may marry a woman, certainly, but also take concubines (Abraham took two, Jacob took one, Caleb took three, and Solomon took more than 300);
    > a man not only marries his wife but also her slaves (see Genesis 16);
    > a man must marry his dead brother’s widow and she must submit to him sexually so that he can produce children on behalf of his dead brother (see Genesis 38.6-10) . . . and if he fails to do this he should be killed too;
    > the shameful practise of marrying many wives (polygamy) appears to be justified (Esau took three wives, Jacob took two, David took “many”, and Solomon took 700);
    > a slave owner may permit one slave to marry another (Exodus 21.4), even though the wife and any children remain the wife/property of the slave owner;
    > a victorious soldier is entitled to take any captured virgins as wives who must then submit to him sexually (Numbers 31.1-18, Deuteronomy 21.11-14);
    > a rapist, although only if he is caught in the act, “shall give fifty shekels of silver to the woman’s father, and she shall become his wife. Because he violated her he shall not be permitted to divorce her as long as he lives” (Deuteronomy 22.28-29).
    So why should anybody, straight or gay, want to avail themselves of anything as shoddy and dishonoured in Scripture as marriage?
    Could it be simply that marriage is also the one way that both Church and state acknowledge and celebrate the love that one person has uniquely for another person?
    Therefore why should anybody be denied such an opportunity?

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