A RE-VISIT TO THE GAY-RIGHT CONTROVERSY IN NIGERIA: An Analysis of the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act, 2013

It’s over two years since the enactment of the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act in Nigeria. The Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act, 2013 is probably the most draconian law ever enacted in Nigeria. Homosexuality is not alien to Nigeria or Africa as many Nigerians will have us believe. This however, is not the focus of this essay. This essay intends to review the SSM (Prohibition) Act and reveal why it is totally uncalled for and unconstitutional.

Homosexuals in Nigeria are mostly hidden. They are ostracized by the communities they live in and are often targets of violent mob actions. The colonial bequeathed Marriage Act and Matrimonial Causes Act does not recognise the right of persons of same sex to get married. It is this injustice that drove other societies (including the ‘colonial masters’) to recognise the right of homosexuals, but reverse is the case in Nigeria. Instead of broadening the reach of civil liberty, Nigeria has succeeded in tightening the noose on the already suffocating neck of minorities. Below is an analysis of the totalitarian law:

Section 1 expressly prohibits marriage and civil union contracted by persons of same sex in Nigeria. It went further to pour vinegar on the cordial relationship Nigeria may enjoy with countries where same sex marriage is recognised by declaring any certificate of marriage issued to same sex couples in another country void. It is this kind of laws that makes you wonder what Nigerian legislators smoke.

Section 2 infringes on religious freedom by declaring that same sex marriage shall not be solemnised in a church, mosque or any other place of worship in Nigeria. This is written under the careless assumption that all religious sects prohibit same sex marriage. There are several homosexuals who are equally religious. Most of the ‘yen daudu’ in Northern Nigeria are practising Mulsims. … is a Nigerian gay pastor

Section 2(1) reiterates Section 1(2) why?! I’m sorry, but that is a question we may never find answer to. Shabby legislation! A good-thinking first year law student should do a better job.

Section 3 states that only a marriage contracted between a man and a woman shall be recognised as valid in Nigeria. Is it just me or this same thing as been said over and over…This is what you get when legislation is driven by sentiment and the urge to oppress minorities.

Section 4(1): ‘The Registration of gay clubs, societies and organisations, their sustenance, processions and meetings is prohibited.’

Wow, I had to pinch myself to confirm that I actually live in this banana republic. What can be more draconian than this? What happened to the right to peaceful gathering and freedom of association? The government should never legislate on what we can think or not think. Homosexuals are not criminals, they are not occults, yet they cannot gather to discuss their welfare? This provision is ridiculous. It reminds me of the classic novel – ‘1984’ by George Orwell. The Nigerian government is fast becoming a dreaded ‘Big Brother,’ watching and legislating over everything, including our thoughts and conscience.

Section 4(2) prohibits the public show of ‘same sex amorous relationship directly or indirectly.’ This provision makes you want to laugh and cry at the same time. Just how do you define that? So much hypocrisy for a country where sex and porn sell like hot cake. Nigerians love porn (Yes you heard it from me) and not just heterosexual porn, Nigerians love watching lesbians, gay, threesome, orgies…you name them. You don’t need a survey to find this gospel truth, just visit any kiosk where pirated movies are sold (most CDs in circulation in Nigeria are pirated anyway) and you will see them on display, X-rated movies for adults and minors alike (No one will ask for your age as long as you are paying).

Section 5 – this is the climax. 14 years jail term for any person who contracts same sex marriage in Nigeria. Really? Ok

Assuming but not conceding to the position that civil unions between two consenting adults is indeed a terrible offence compared to marriage of a child by a serving senator of the godly-secular republic– should imprisonments of all offenders be the best approach considering the fact that our prisons are overcrowded and the facilities in terrible condition. We have inmates awaiting trial for 5 years or more, do thing imprisoning the entire LGBT community is a good idea?

Ok, assuming homosexuality is indeed responsible for draught, thunder, famine, road accidents, plane and the forth coming apocalypse like the dooms day preachers of Nigeria will have us believe. Shouldn’t we embrace a reformative approach rather than a punitive one? For example, we arrest a gay club of 15 members while conducting a secret wedding and summarily imprison them. Are we killing the spirit or building it? That makes the movement stronger; they will reconnect in jail, meet new members, re-strategize and become violent upon being released. Nigeria is a country that never learns. The ‘Maitasine,’ ‘Niger-Delta up-rising’ and ‘Boko-Haram’ came with lessons but sadly, we never learn.

The above analogy is to lend a brain to the Nigerian government; I don’t believe homosexuals are reprobates, neither do I believe they are sick or needing some pseudo-scientific cure. Homosexuals are normal members of society with different sexual orientation just like I am born left-handed and can virtually do nothing about it. That the majority of humans are right-handed does not make me evil or less human – the majority is not always right.

Section 5(2) is a dangerous provision that punishes participation directly or indirectly in ‘same sex amorous relationship’ with 10 years’ imprisonment. This section is a potent tool of witch-hunting – for what exactly is the extent of ‘participating indirectly in amorous relationship?’ This provision is highly sentimental and emotional.

Section 5(3): ‘A person or group of persons who administers, witnesses, abets or aids the solemnization of a same sex marriage or civil union, or supports the registration, operation and sustenance of gay clubs, societies, organisations, processions, or meetings in Nigeria commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a term of 10 years imprisonment.’

It’s like it gets worst by the sections. What can be more arbitrary than this? The above provision can be extended mean punishment for daring to write against this unjust law like I am doing. This law contravenes several provisions of the constitution but the sentiment laden majority had their eyes closed while calling for the heads of harmless homosexuals. This law is not good for anyone, gay or straight – unless you are a bigot of course.

Section 6 confers the jurisdiction to try offences under the SSM (Prohibition) Act on the High Court of a State or the Federal Capital Territory.

This section is quite a relief (assuming there is an actual offence to be tried). At least the ‘hypothetical offence’ gets to be tried in court – and that is if the ‘hypothetical suspects’ survive the mob action on the streets and torture in the police cells.

Section 7 defines – ‘marriage,’ ‘court,’ ‘same se marriage,’ ‘witness’ and ‘civil union.’

Seven sections, just seven dangerous and heart-breaking sections; this law is probably the shortest legislation in Nigeria. I remembered being perplexed at the speed at which the Bill was proposed and passed into law. I couldn’t help but compare it to how long it took to pass the Freedom of Information Act. I am disgusted. There were several more pressing issues to attend to like Section 2 of the Constitution (Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policies) which remains unjusticiable i.e. you cannot enforce your right to education or sustainable economy and environment among other things in Nigeria.

Your Representatives, Our Representatives felt witch-hunting gay people was a more pressing National issue that requires urgent attention than making right to free education and social welfare justiciable; they felt it was more pressing than legislating on hate crime or women’s right.

While other countries were painstakingly paving way for a free and better society, the Nigerian law makers were taking one step forward and centuries backward – plunging us into dark abyss with legislations fit for a stone-age civilisation.

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Prince Charming

Joseph of the rusty metallic coat…

Do not laugh at me, daughters of Egypt
Do not mock me
It’s true I wear shackles
And not bangles
So true, I was bought for twenty shekels
But deep within me, I’m a Prince
I may wear a rusty metal coat of bondage
And not your dream shinning armour
I may be holding a staff
And not yielding a flaming sword
I may be leading a flock
And not commanding the ranks
But what you don’t know is –
Portiphar’s house is the potter’s place
I’m only being moulded
I’m only being shaped

Do not jeer at me, daughters of Egypt
Do not look down on me
It’s true that I live in the prison
So true that I’m an inmate
But I’m truly meant for the palace
I may wear rags and do the drainage jobs
And not appear the white collared, pen holding dream of yours
I may labour all day for no pay
And not look like your ideal man that makes it rain all day
But what you don’t know is –
The prison is a quarry site
I’m only being chiselled
I’m only being notched

Do not be bewildered, daughters of Egypt
Do not stare at me in awe
I am the same Joseph you know
Joseph the young slave boy
Yes, Joseph the prisoner…
I am now your Prime Minister
And I’m not fit for just any woman
I wear the King’s emblem
And I’m not least of the royal bloods.
While I learnt my lessons – you scorned
While I was in the making – you mocked
Sorry you missed your chance
Sorry you played the wrong card
I came off the potter’s wheel ready
I left the quarry site refined
Now I am to pick my Bride
And even Pharaoh knows –
Only Asenath would do.

from ‘Songs of Yesteryears’ by Yinka Amao

While We Breed Like Rabbits

In civilized climes, plans are being made for sustainable living. Accurate projection of population 10 years from now or even more is been made and plans are put in place for generations yet unborn. Meanwhile in the banana republic that is ours we keep breeding like rabbits and blaming other countries for our predicaments.

The government of the United Kingdom is planning to deport about 29, 000 Nigerians whom she tag illegal immigrants and as usual our government and its people have reacted with a tantrum. A distinguished Senator while addressing the issue in the Senate alleged that the illegal immigrants have in one way or the other contributed to the economy of the U.K. and so the U.K. should not deport them. Say what?! Just what do they smoke at the National Assembly? Yea, the U.K government wants these Nigerian geniuses to go home and help build the Nigerian economy the way they have built the U.K. economy.

while we breed like rabbits

Instead of brainstorming on policies that will keep our youths at home and stop the brain drain plaguing us, our National Assembly is working out a way to beg big sister U.K. Where is the soul of this Nation? The worst form of deceit is self-deceit. We must checkmate our population growth and accelerate development in every sphere. Common country folks! It’s the 21st century fa! You cannot just leave the number of children, birth control, economic policies to the ‘god factor,’ forces of nature or whatever you call it. It’s just not done like that.

And this also applies to other African countries. Some weeks ago, the Republic of Zambia announced that she would be holding a day of prayer and fasting for her weak currency and to boost the economy. Why do we have clueless idiots at the helm of affairs? How did we degenerate to this state? It is very simply, ok? No economy was, is or can be built via fasting and prayer.

It is enough that the world mocks us; it is totally unbearable when we mock ourselves. The world is moving and living us behind, no one will move us; we have to move ourselves. If we continue this trend our children yet unborn will curse us. How is it that we don’t make long term plans? There is more to life than wearing imported clothes and riding fairly used vehicles (I careless that they are London used). Just where is our pride as a people? About a month ago, I was in a church and the Pastor while praying (in Yoruba) said ‘A dog cannot subdue a lion, a black man cannot outwit a white man, a white man cannot outwit god. I declare this month, your enemies shall not subdue you in Jesus’ name!’ and the deluded congregation chorused ‘Amen!’ Some of those educated fools will hit the internet air space upon hearing about the U.K. government’s deportation plan to curse and call all white people racist. How do you accuse the West of racism when our leaders and clergies have registered it in our sub-consciousness that we are inferior?

We have problems and we must so admit; we must stop living in self-denial. Our borders are porous and we want to fight insurgence? Our population is growing at supersonic rate while development is dragging behind like a snail but yet we want to attain the millennium development goal; we want to be prosperous as a nation; we want to live sustainably; we want a better Nigeria for our children. These are lofty aspirations and they are beyond the realms of wishful thinking. I suggest a comprehensive government policy and legislation to control our population. Now don’t tell me how your religious scripts admonishes you to give birth to children you cannot nurse, this is a matter of national interest, it will be lovely if you leave your faith out of it. We must also gear our energy towards job creation to ground our flying children, common sense so demands.

The life and times of Solomon Grundy

Monday – Birth

Grundy was in the field when the news hit him like a stray bullet. He ran all the way home and into the room. He headed straight for the cradle and lying in it was little Grundy, asleep. Turning, he faced his wife Sarah, tears streaming down his cheeks and mumbled;

            ‘Finally, God has given us a child.’

Tuesday – Christening

The Grundys christened their son on a Tuesday, two weeks after his birth.

            ‘We want to make it the best ever,’ was the excuse.

They were true to their words; it was indeed the greatest ever. For never in the history of the kingdom had there been any event like that of the Grundy’s. Even the king could not help but marvel. A notable Knight was reported to have said;

‘It is a day of a thousand laughter…everyone got enough to eat and drink’

Everyone went home happy except for Greg, Grundy’s brother, who objected to the lavish spending. The child was nonetheless christened Solomon – Solomon Grundy.

 

Growing up, Solomon was denied nothing. His parents did all the thinking and left nothing beyond his reach. Solomon had no problem but for his Uncle Greg. Greg was the only opposition to the worship of Solomon. He was also a great preacher and would sit Solomon down for hours trying to force morals into him and slothfulness out. Solomon hated Greg but could do nothing about it.

Wednesday – Marriage

  Solomon became of age and was to take a bride. He grew up a handsome man with a terrible character. There was no stopping Solomon once he was set to go except for Julia. Julia the poor mild girl was the only antidote to his sickening character. She loved him so much and was determined to change him for good. Solomon equally loved her but still depended on his parent to make his decisions. So it wasn’t surprising when his parents announced he would be marrying the Princess even before telling him, and even  less surprising when they bent his will through the influence of his friends and the throne.

In the course of the preparations for Solomon’s wedding, Greg stormed in one day and challenged the Grundys.

            ‘You’ve lived his entire life and now you picked him a wife!’ Greg yelled.

            ‘Not your business.’ Solomon barked.

‘If you have ears and not flagella you would have known the sentence is a statement not a question, loose brat!’

And with those words still hanging in the air, Greg stormed out. Once again, the opposition lost. The wedding came to beat the long standing record of Solomon’s christening.

Thursday – ill

 Solomon’s breath taking wedding lasted just two weeks. They couldn’t just get along. Solomon was a drunk and also bad tempered. The princess was hyper-sensitive and as proud as a peacock. When she left, Solomon’s heart became more hardened to wine. One Thursday, Solomon collapsed outside a bar and was rushed home, all muddy. The doctor said he had liver cirrhosis and should stop drinking. Continue reading “The life and times of Solomon Grundy”