Dec 21st, 2012 – Homosexuality in Nigeria Today: Nigerian Homosexuals Vs Culture War
Homosexuality in Nigeria (and the world) has always been an ugly topic to explore.
Engaging in such topic can be compared to the man who decided to preach The Word to a hungry lion at the University of Ibadan zoo some years ago; he was torn apart. To prevent this, the writer will like to state that this article is not to prove whether or not homosexuality is right or wrong, but rather to establish an understanding of the social and biological theories surrounding homosexuality and how this can be related to the Nigerian context.
Most scholars argue that “people express gender beliefs, their own and those of the culture in which they live, in everyday language as they either indirectly or explicitly accept and assign gendered meanings to what they and others do, think, and feel.” In other words, homosexuality can be influenced by the norms and beliefs in a particular society. Based on the above argument, one may argue that homosexuality cannot be a Nigerian thing. After all, our culture promotes “appropriate” gender beliefs, which supports the union of a man and a woman.
That said it would be insane or absolutely hypocritical to assume that there are no homosexuals in our country and raises the following questions: Can a Nigerian be born gay? Does the Nigerian culture promote same sex marriage?
Is it a crime for an individual to choose their sex partner(s)?
Whether we want to accept it or not, these Nigerian gays and lesbians are, first of all, humans which mean they have the right to make personal choices. Pointing judging fingers would not change their orientation or correct their “abnormality”.
Psychiatrists have placed their “abnormalities” into three categories:
First, theories of normal variation treat homosexuality as a phenomenon that occurs naturally. Such theories typically regard homosexual individuals as born different, but it is a natural difference, like left-handedness. The contemporary cultural beliefs that people are ‘‘born gay’’.
Second, theories of pathology regard adult homosexuality as a disease, a condition that deviates from ‘‘normal,’’ heterosexual development. A typical gender behavior or feelings are symptoms of a ‘‘disease’’ to which mental health professionals need to attend. These theories hold that some internal defect or external pathogenic agent causes homosexuality and that such events can occur pre- or post-natally (intrauterine hormonal exposure, excessive mothering, inadequate or hostile fathering, sexual abuse).
And the third, theories of immaturity regard expressions of homosexual feelings or behavior at a young age as a normal step toward adult heterosexuality. Ideally, homosexuality is a passing phase that one outgrows. However, as a ‘‘developmental arrest,’’ adult homosexuality is equated with stunted growth.
The above theories can give us an umbrella where we can place these “unwanted elements” as described by many Nigerians. But these are mere theories that cannot help us change the stigma faced by these special beings. There have been cases where some men have been lynched, some women have been ostracized and others have committed suicide as they could not understand why the society would treat them with disregard.
What theory fits the discriminations they face every day? Is it safe to say that some weren’t born equal or that some simply feel right and godly?
In a country where religion has imprisoned the mental mind of the majority, logic cannot be applied in handling such critical issues. As a matter of fact, pastors and the some illogical heterosexuals use the Sodom and Gomorrah story as the basis for their discrimination. “Kill them, simple!” a Nigerian pastor once screamed during an interview. Before we kill them, have we asked the right questions?
The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) confirmed in Toonen v. Australia that laws criminalizing consensual same-sex activity violate both the right to privacy and the right to equality before the law without any discrimination. Contrary to this, House Majority leader of the Nigerian House of Representatives, Mulikat Adeola-Akande, argued that, “It [homosexuality] is alien to our society and culture and it must not be imported. Religion abhors it and our culture has no place for it.”
Is it safe to conclude, therefore, that our culture promotes inequality? Before the next man or woman is killed, arrested or discriminated against, ask yourself this question: what would you do if you were related (by blood) to this type of human? Kill him or her?
About the author: Michael Irene, Anglia Ruskin University,Cambridge, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org