The reactions of Nigerians to #RepealSSMPA proves that they are no better than SARS

Apparently, last year’s #ENDSARS protests haven’t taught Nigerians anything about intersectionality, or simply showing solidarity to other marginalised groups by calling out the bigotry they face. For such a movement that prided itself on addressing human rights violations experienced by Nigerians in the hands of government institutions, #RepealSSMPA has left no doubts that Nigerians are fine with the oppression of LGBTQ people and hence no different than the SARS police unit they have widely loathed and condemned.

The #RepealSSMPA is a Twitter hashtag demanding for the abolition of the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act that was passed into law in 2014 by former president Goodluck Jonathan, primarily targeting LGBTQ Nigerians and prescribes a 14-year prison sentence for marriage. Other punishment are made clear for forming LGBTQ association or groups, co-habiting between same-sex partners, public display of affection, etc.

The hashtag was spearheaded recently by Victor Emmanuel in a video that has since gone viral, a queer man who marched to the National Assembly to protest these injustices and asked for the law to be repealed. While there were pockets of support from other LGBTQ Nigerians online, the #RepealSSMPA gaining some momentum, a majority of Nigerians mocked and ridiculed the protest in predictable fashion. Homophobic jokes were rampant, [these can be found directly under the posted video above because some can be triggering] trivialising the real and grave experiences LGBTQ Nigerians face as a result of systemic homophobia which Nigerians themselves perpetuate.

In all this, the overarching stance Nigerians have towards LGBTQ people organising for their liberation is one rooted in homophobia. Even during the #ENDSARS protests in October, a handful of queer Nigerians revealed how they were bullied and excluded from protesting because ”it wasn’t the right time.” But there’s never a right time to address queer antagonism and oppression. It is the collective silence from Nigerians after the passing of the SSMPA law in 2014 that has emboldened the ruling political class to further make inhumane laws. And the reason Nigerians aren’t joining in to ask for the #RepealSSMPA is because they think queer Nigerians don’t deserve to live freely and authentically.

This is the confirmation we have always know: Nigerians are fine with oppression as long as it doesn’t affect them.

Featured image: The Rustin Times

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