My greatest fear has materialised.
BBC world service reported that a mob of Nigerians armed with stones nearly invaded the court house in Bauchi state calling for deaths for 7 men suspected of being gay. It took the police shooting into the air to disperse the crowd and take the suspects back to their prison cells while the court considers their case further.The reporter mentioned that although under Sharia law, gays are supposed to be stoned to death, someone was recently given many lashes for being gay in Bauchi. Given our history of jungle justice and lack of enforcement of human rights or any laws at all, how do we think that this is going to end and what is the fate of gays in other states in Nigeria from this moment forward?
When the thought of law allowing gay marriage was first mooted in Nigeria I made clear that I have no interest in interfering in the private lives of others and therefore did not support any anti gay law. I was however very clear in my reservations over gay marriages. I did so because I felt that our environment is not yet conducive for such significant leap from not accepting that anyone can be gay to gay marriages. A few friends challenged my views then. I explained my fears about jungle justice and the fact that our system is not set up and not likely to be set up for the protection of gay couples if citizens set upon them on the streets. I could also then see my people calling in the juju doctor to check my head for “agwu” meaning mild psychosis of the mind if i returned home with a woman as my wife or the ostracising of my family and I if they do not themselves condemn and ostracise me. Many of my then pro gay marriage friends told me that I was wrong and criticised my views. I rested my case knowing that I was simply worried about the safety of couples holding hands and showing affections to one another on the street. I was not expecting anyone to go underground then to live their lives. I was rather expecting our leaders to review the case for gay marriage and put in place necessary measures which will protect the rights and safety of gay Nigerians that right enters into our constitution.
I have since then reviewed my stance on no gay marriage given developments in the world and the belief that those who need their freedom must take it and never wait for it to come to them because those who control power will never find the right time to meet everyone’s need, I wholly welcomed the new law, thinking the sooner the better. We need to leave people alone and concentrate on fighting corruption, child abuse, poverty and other ills in society.
In our usual self denial and hypocrisy many of us will claim that being gay is “unNigerian”. I would like to hide under our supposed next to none high morality and agree with such a laughable claim but regret that from the knowledge I have gathered about human nature or behaviours I beg to differ completely. Many Nigerians have been gay from time immemorial and we can deny it as best as we like. Otherwise why do we have native laws and the Quaran which recommends stoning for gays wile the bible in Leviticus condemns sodomy and homosexuality. In my facebook post on this topic which did not meet with the approval of many friends I said that being gay is human nature and we cannot be killed or condemned for things beyond human control. I was hotly challenged. That was a welcome challenge because I learnt more about how we reason as a group and individually. I did my best to give detailed reasons why being gay is natural and will reiterate my views again without hesitation. Being gay is natural and as such no one can be expected to choose to stop being gay. So we actually have too live with it.
During my secondary school days there was something called “supe”. It was a culture within many boarding schools. Many senior girls preyed on very young girls for affection. It scared the hell out of me when I found out that a supposed school mum who my dad handed me over to was indeed not what she was meant to be and I was to service different needs at night. I raced like Ben Johnson. I discussed this with many other freshers many of whom had similar stories to tell. I would not have it and went on various organised and unorganised expose them campaigns. I took pleasure in going round at night to take down names of people sleeping together in single beds and reporting them to the matron for punishment. Being a mentally and physically tough young girl then they could not do much as I could easily beat all of them up individually or together. I felt a great sense of high morality to report such acts anytime I suspected anything.
As I got older I realised that it was simply exploration of puberty which many young girls who were unfortunate to be exposed to it got over once they became old enough to have consensual sexual relationships and catholic parents like mine had given up policing them. With the exception of a few people who I understand have continued to sleep with women despite being married and who claim that their marriages were not right or husbands (another big topic) do not mind them sleeping with women, many of the girls do not want to talk about those experiences and have moved on into heterosexual relationships.
I hear that this also happened in many male schools. Although some of the men are naturally gay and are secretly living their lives, the rest have since moved on. My point here is that if being gay is not human nature those who were exposed to it during secondary school days had a choice of remaining homosexuals but they did not and those who are homo or bisexuals have continued to live their lives they way they were made and nothing not even forced marriages which many are unfortunately in have been able to stop them.
A friend once told me that she thought that her dad is either bi or homosexual. Her mother divorced him many years ago because she suspected that he was sleeping with men. He never remarried while her mum had been married twice since after their divorce. Although he denies that he is gay, all his friends are gay. He keeps the most clean house and cooks the best dishes. He lives with an uncle who is married to a woman with children in Nigeria and says that he would rather they do not join him. Though this uncle has a house in London, he says that he loves her dad and feels sorry that he is alone and therefore rented out his house to rent a room in his house. She has not been allowed into her dad’s room since he moved in but strongly believes that they share a room and bed. Of course I am not sure what may be going on, if this guy is gay and he is happy being gay what is the biggest deal here? If forcing him to be married was the cure for his nature, one wonders why he did not change with being married and has remained single since his divorce with no known relationship with any woman.
I think that the current situation in Bauchi is a precedent for the future and our leaders must go back to the table and urgently review this new oppressive law. Many people are going to take the law into their hands and many Nigerians may be killed even for mere suspicion of being gay.
This reminds me of the days when Anambra state introduced Bakassi murderers. Many people including none criminals were killed. I still do not doubt that Politicians used that opportunity to finish off opponents.
A stitch in time saves nine. Our leaders must look at where they are taking us and make a u turn on this new law.