The LGBT discourse which made the rounds on Twitter late last week after Feminist, Gender-Equality advocate and award-winning Documentary filmmaker Kiki Mordi tweeted about the absurdity of queer people loving differently still being criminalized, thanks to the 2014 SSMPA law opened the ground for unintelligent but persistently homophobic sentiments. Unsurprised and unimpressed.
It’s almost 2020 & same sex marriage is still illegal in Nigeria.
Like two people (of the same sex) can love themselves and want to build a family for themselves just like you & I but can’t because it’s illegal for them.
A damn shame! We’re already on the wrong side of history.
— Kiki Mordi (@kikimordi) December 26, 2019
With the major bane of the conversation revolving around how queer identities and non-heterosexual sexualities go against our “culture” and “religion”, the disingenuous on which the SSMPA law was birthed and passed into law in the first place.
The arguments of culture, religion and all other heavily western-influenced tenets of our existence as Nigerians can be easily debunked as two-faced and unjustifiable for the stifling of the most basic human rights to freedom but these would really just be strongly worded sentences queer people and allies are constantly forced to put up in defense when Nigerian queer people live and die in constant fear.
Since the law’s passage, many homophobes have been emboldened to carry out attacks, assaults, and blackmail on queer people and getting away with their deeds, while queer people find themselves unable to report these violations as it might lead them into more problems with the police who have a history of targeting queer people and vowing to keep at it.
When we strip these arguments of their essence, what remains are the lives our country has failed and continues to fail. When we leave our textpads, what remains are everyday Nigerians who have to live in the dark just to appeal to our flawed moral sensibilities. When we leave Twitter, what remains are young women, men, and nonbinary Nigerians who cannot truly be themselves, in ways that cause no harm, without having to explain, defend or pay greatly for it. And now that the argument is over, we are left with people who still carry years of mental hurt and trauma for being relegated to the foot of the social ladder, for constantly being denied the right to humanity, people who have to bend and twist and try twice as hard to enjoy what the average heterosexual person takes for granted.
If we care about human rights or any other issue pining the country’s social and economic progress down, then the systemic oppression of queer persons must be taken seriously as it offends nor disrupts our personal moralistic beliefs in any way. Nor does it go against our culture that truly isn’t ours.
Nelson C.J is a culture writer with works in The New York Times, Xtra Magazine, OkayAfrica, Black Youth Project, AfroPunk, and a few other spaces. You can find him saving dog pictures on Twitter.