THE question of homosexuality long regarded as taboo in the highly religious society of Nigeria, has of recent been raising its head and profile in the field of public debate. No longer content to remain in the closet, proponents of homosexuality and lesbianism are actively seeking to be heard. They are up against an uphill task as they are pitched not only against culture and religion but against public perception of morality. The various religions of the world do not condone homosexuality; Christianity and Islam, Nigeria’s largest religions, in particular condemn homosexuality.
The mere mention of homosexuality is guaranteed to drive many Nigerian Christians and Moslems up the wall in revulsion. But there are others, somewhat tolerant who are inclined to look at the phenomenon as a form of benign affliction from which the victims can be rescued. For this group homosexuals and lesbians should be managed until they return to the path of rectitude. For others however, homosexuality is not a stigma but a biological condition, which is as perfectly normal as heterosexual orientation.
These issues came to the fore recently when a bill to ban same sex marriages in Nigeria was tabled before the National Assembly. An attempt to obtain public reaction to the bill turned into an occasion of high drama. A group of young people under the lugubrious name of Queer Alliance stormed the House of Representatives in Abuja to protest what they say is discrimination against their fundamental human rights if a bill banning same sex marriages in Nigeria were passed. They have been joined by Amnesty International, Global Rights, Human Rights Watch and some Lesbian organisations which argue that if the bill were passed, Nigeria’s obligations under the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights would be undermined.
Pitched against the homosexuals are religious bodies comprising the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion and Daughters of Sarah Ministry. They warn that same sex marriages would destroy the will of God for mankind as He created us male and female. They totally reject same sex marriages as ungodly, unprofitable, unhealthy and un-African. The position of the Anglican Communion in Nigeria on homosexuality as articulated by the Very Reverend Peter Akinola is well known. In 2004, more than 300 bishops congregated in Lagos and resolved among other things not to have anything to do with homosexuality. The great Lambeth Hall, home of Anglicanism is wobbling over the issue of homosexuality and a schism is yet to be averted.
The problem with Nigerians is that we are all too eager to copy the latest fads from the western world. Not every product from the West is good and the well-heeled homosexual lobby is one such example. We must come to look at the issue of same sex relationships from the prism of our culture and religion. For the African, the idea that a man can be married to a man or a woman to a woman is anathema. The culture of marriage is predicated on the union between a man and a woman and all our traditional practices and normative values regarding marriage are based on the assumption that the other member is of the opposite sex.
African parents prepare their children from birth through adolescence for marriage to the opposite sex. Too many things will be upset were it possible to upturn age-old customs and practices. Those who argue that opposition to homosexuality amounts to a violation of universal human rights, may well need to realise that the dislike of homosexuality is not inconsistent with the observance of human rights. Nigerian homosexuals are not pilloried for being gay. They have a choice: they can marry members of the opposite sex or stay single. They only draw unfavourable attention to themselves when they threaten the safety and security of the majority.
Culled From The Guardian Editorial
Africans have a right to say ‘no’ to a movement whose ultimate outcome will be the destruction of the family. Homosexuals are claiming that men can marry themselves. If everyone followed their example, would they have even been born? Looking at the debate, we conclude that in the short run both parties cannot be reconciled without grave injuries being done to either of them.
Since sodomy is already criminalised in Nigeria, we wonder whether the National Assembly is utilising its time optimally by focusing on homosexuality when the majority of our people are suffering from hunger, lack of access to water and disease. Moreover, as pointed out by the gay lobbyists, same sex marriage is not a common social practice in Nigeria therefore legislating against it is redundant and can only further stigmatise the sexual minority. Perhaps the National Assembly should be spending its time on real issues that impact on the lives of long-suffering Nigerians.