Sunday, November 20, 2016

Ain't I Human?

Have been reading the Human Rights Watch report on the effects of the Nigerian 2014 Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act

It is very unconfortable reading. Again, context matters. A huge, populous country. Very religious. Highly corrupt, with a growing, horrifying insurgency. Security by police is tenuous to say the least.

I am pretty sure gay Nigerians were too occupied with the issues of day to day living to even start agitating for gay marriage. Survival comes first, always. And, when you are just hair breadth from that…! But, the politicians thought it was important. And, they were unanimous in their desire for ‘protection’ of ‘Nigerian African Culture’.

Now, the report above is not about the Sharia Law states to the north of the country. That is something else. And, from the writers, not a single prosecution has been carried out. Yet, the effects on the community of Queer Nigerians has been equivalent to the declaration of an official state of terror. Mob violence, suspected on the streets, raised alarm, beaten, stripped, shamed. Deaths. Rape punishment for men, and, for suspected lesbians, ‘corrective’ rape.  Homes broken into to catch them in the act. Suspicion, broken homes, broken families, lost jobs, school…. Vigilante groups, which are common instead of police, are the enforcement arms of the neighborhoods. Indeed, Where can one be Safe?! The police are happy for the extra chance for bribes. And, of course gay Nigerians do all they can to pay. Better to pay than risk 14 years in a Nigerian Jail…, as a confirmed homosexual. Horror of horrors.
You can read of one guy's account here, caught between the police and blackmailers.
What of anti-gay vigilante groups? One account. Notice the official approval!
The group, who often cites the country’s anti-gay law as their authority, has not only gained grounds but seems to be working closely with the youth chairman of the community.
The group also seems to be well mobilized, as they wear T-shirts showing the inscription ‘Anti-Gay Squad’.

The real results of that law is that Queer Nigerians seem to have had all the rights and protection of their humanity removed. Yet, in actual fact, that law doesn’t do that. It’s the people’s perception which matters. Blackmailers...., allegedly working with police? All that happens. 
To the community out there, nothing, nothing is wrong against doing the worst that you can to a person that is gay. Just because you are gay, or suspected to be gay, you can be blackmailed, forced to confess, beaten in public, stripped of your clothes and paraded around the local town as the homosexual. Nothing is too low to visit on a homosexual. And, the Nigerian public is doing it. There is a group that is of such pariah status, so low, so culpable that the church, the mosque, the state has given the populace carte blache to visit all their pain on fellow Nigerians. Because they are gay, or suspected to be....
 My apologies to anyone objecting to my putting the persons face there, and linking to an article with the name. Yeah, it is tough. But, it is the reality of the situation. Sugar coating it doesnt make it any much more palatable. Gay Nigerians are Nigerians stripped of rights because the state deemed it so, and the populace translated latent hate into an ongoing terror campaign. Real, with real human beings hurting. Outed. Beaten. Broadcasted.

The original Bahati Bill in Uganda actually specifically did exactly that, removing our rights as human beings, enacting the death penalty. Yeah, we managed to have those merciful Christians to reduce ‘death’ to 'life in prison' by the time the bill became law….

Aren’t I Human?

Yes, I borrow from  Sojourner Truth, that former slave turned abolitionist and women's rights activist . Ain't I a Woman? Its eerie how this kind of stigmatization has worked down the ages. Fellow human beings need to first REDUCE us below the level of humanity. We are ‘othered’. So different that we are no longer counted like the ‘norms’. That is what can justify treating us less than human. Because, indeed, we are seen as less than human.

The indignities visited on Gay Africans need us to ask other Africans that simple question. Aren’t I a Human Being? Just because I am gay, aren’t I HUMAN? For brother, sister, you seem to think so!

I am human. And, long as I have breath in this body, I will hold you up to ridicule, dear hater/homophobe. With the courage and strength of that slave who dared ask that question, and the unrelenting conviction of our worthiness and humanity, we shall answer the question. 

Yes, we Gay Africans, We are Human. Again and again, we shall affirm it.

We are gay Humans.

We are human. We happen to be gay. We are gay.

We dont want anything different than any other human being. We dont want extras. We dont want an easier path than anyone else.

What we want. Why we fight. Why we yell and scream and will not stop is simple.

We are human. And, we honour ourselves. We shall not buy into the dehumanisation that you visit on us. We shall not buy into the thinking that we are less than you, that we are on the level of animals, because we are different from you.

No. We shall affirm, we gay Africans, we queer Africans, that yes. We. Are. Human.

And, Gay rights are simply Human Rights.


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