Reading Time: 5 mins read
As 2023 was marching its way into history, futurologists are busy decoding the cryptic signs of the times. Many people are wondering what the future holds. The times are hard. The old year had all but overstretched whatever elasticity the mood of Nigerians, famously tagged the happiest people on earth, could boast of.
The villages are grimacing, the cities are frowning. Everywhere, the thread of hope is what serves as a lifeline for the people. Their fervent desire is for a better managed economy which would translate into life more abundant for the people. In the meantime, they console and entertain themselves with the fevered prognostications of the seasonal prophets whose crystal balls are programmed to deliver, at each year’s end, a glimpse of what tomorrow carries in its womb.
However, as the year was coming to an end, there was another kind of worry in the mix. If you put your ears to the ground, you will hear whispers of pressures allegedly being put on Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu by the West to legalise Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or questioning, Intersex, Asexual, and more (LGBTQ+) relationships.
Western leaders know that the major problem facing Nigeria right now is economic. So, they have resolved to tie their loans to what they describe as LGBTQ+ rights. Those Western leaders watched with arms akimbo while millions of Africans died of starvation during the drought and wars in several parts of the continent. Their conscience was not pricked. Many of them throw away excess food or even pay farmers of certain oversupplied crops not to produce. But they couldn’t be bothered by Africans who were dying of starvation. Rather they want gay rights as a condition for giving out their loans.
It is not possible to discuss the LGBTQ+ issue in most African countries without considering religious and cultural factors which all of us— commentators in the public space, have highlighted over the years. To put it bluntly, it is impossible to roll back the anti-gay law in Nigeria without serious cultural and religious repercussions.
The Nigerian Law
The Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act, 2013 is described as “An Act to prohibit a marriage contract or civil union entered into between persons of same sex. It also declares any certificate of such union obtained from other countries invalid in Nigeria. In addition, it prohibits churches, mosques and other places of worship from solemnising same sex marriages as only a marriage contracted between a man and a woman shall be recognised as valid in Nigeria.
The law prohibits the registration of gay clubs, societies and organisations, their sustenance, processions and meetings; it outlaws any public show of same sex amorous relationship directly. It states that a person who enters into a same sex marriage contract or civil union commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a term of 14 years imprisonment; a person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organisation, or directly or indirectly makes public show of same sex amorous relationship in Nigeria commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a term of 10 years imprisonment. The law also punishes accomplices of those who violate the Act.
In the Act, “marriage” is defined as a legal union entered into between persons of opposite sex in accordance with the Marriage Act, Islamic Law or Customary Law; while “same sex marriage” means the coming together of persons of the same sex with the purpose of living together as husband and wife or for other purposes of same sexual relationship.
So far, to my knowledge, only a handful of young men have been arraigned for contravening the law. Generally, Nigerians can’t be bothered by anybody’s bed manners, who they sleep with or how they do it. Culturally, such things are off the public view and no one is bothered by what may be described by the uninitiated as crazy imaginings. The problem comes when a person seems to want to dare the society and its laws by advertising his queer peccadilloes.
I have heard it said that LGBTQ+ rights are human rights and that the UN has recognised them as such. Sorry, the cold truth is that every law operates within a social milieu. I am not one to be judgemental in matters such as this but I have witnessed enough sallahs and Christmases to know where the society draws its red line. Mark my words, the EU/US quest for legalisation of homosexual relationships in Africa will make the West lose influence on the continent.
Why Not Polygamy?
Polygamy is widely practiced in Africa while European society favours monogamy. Africans have never for once suggested that Europeans or Americans should take more than one wife — and Africa will never do so because we realise that different cultures are entitled to their peculiarities. It is unkind to place the LGBTQ+ issue as a kind of hurdle to be crossed by African countries before they can access loans and grants. My prediction is that if the West persists, they will find out too late that their position of influence in Africa has been taken by China and Russia who seem to treat Africans as partners instead of vassals.
The rancour and uncomplimentary remarks made against President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda when he signed his country’s anti-gay legislation fired up many Africans to rise up in defence of the Ugandan leader. Considered the world’s harshest anti-LGBTQ+ bill, the law imposes the death penalty or life imprisonment for certain same-sex acts, up to 20 years in prison for “recruitment, promotion and funding” of same-sex “activities”, and anyone convicted of “attempted aggravated homosexuality” faces a 14-year sentence.
The UK government said it was appalled by the “deeply discriminatory” bill, which it said will “damage Uganda’s international reputation”. US President Joe Biden decried the Act as “shameful” and a “tragic violation of universal human rights”. He said Washington was considering “sanctions and restriction of entry into the United States against anyone involved in serious human rights abuses” — a suggestion that Ugandan officials may face repercussions.
Last November, the EU resorted to undisguised threats during its meeting with African, Caribbean, and Pacific countries. The organisation has set a deadline of January 1, 2024, for all countries to sign the LGBT Agreement failing which there will be dire consequences such as denial of EU funding and development assistance, and removal from specific developmental programs. The threat also includes economic sanctions and barring of ‘recalcitrant’ countries from attending the EU-Organization of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States (OACPS) meetings and activities.
It’s a Trap!
These Western leaders are surprisingly not in tune with the fact that no nation on earth can force its own policies or proclivities down the throats of underdeveloped nations. The sanctimonious ‘human rights’ veil behind which the leaders of the West are hiding is replaced with an impenetrable blanket when it comes to the rights of those they consider as second class humans as we can see in the loud silence attending the ongoing genocide being perpetrated by Israel in Gaza.
As Africans, we concede to the West and indeed all other parts of the world, the right to determine their destiny. We insist on no less for ourselves. If gay Europeans are unhappy about the laws of any African country, the thing to do is avoid that country. No African country will exchange its values for your loans which are usually designed as nooses for the necks of the undiscerning.
No one will be surprised if, as 2024 rolls in, additional Western pressure is brought to bear on President Tinubu to go against the existing anti-LGBTQ+ law in Nigeria. No wise president will fall into that cheap trap. Not for any loan; not for all the money in the whole wide world!
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