Let Us Answer The Gay Question In Nigeria With Our Heads
If US or any other pro-gay country sends us an openly gay ambassador what is the Nigerian government going to do?
If your brother or sister is a homosexual, will you hand him or her to the law?
Your kids praise their teacher to the high heavens; you find him or her an epitome of all you want your child's teacher to be, then one day...you learn he or she is gay. What happens?
And your sister-in-law walks out of a marriage hitherto seen as a match made in heaven because her partner wants it either one way or both ways (hope you know what I mean), what will you do?
Folks, this homosexual issue is one we have to face squarely. Why are these people the way they are? Does it have a spiritual undertone? Homosexuality has been around for centuries, even in black Africa, before the coming of the whites. Ask the people of Buganda in present-day Uganda. Their ruler's pages who converted to Christianity were killed when they stood against the practice. They are the famous martyrs of Uganda. Am just saying this so that anti-gay advocates will cut out the crap of homosexuality being un-African as a plank for their arguments.
Gays claim they are born that way. I doubt this. EVIDENCE IN FAVOR OR AGAINST THIS STANCE EXISTS BUT only one poser matters here: are pedophiles, rapists, etc who claim to be born that way making justified claims? I do not demean gays because quite a number of them are responsible people who desire the right things so-called straight people want. Yet, can sexual orientation not be changed? Whatever happened to conditioning, sublimation, environmental factors? Agreed, there are gays who have made the choice to be gay and wish to remain that way.
I submit they have the right to their decisions. And inasmuch as many of us in Nigeria would want it, many people are okay with themselves living lives devoid of religion or faith in the holy books. They have principles and worldviews that do not subscribe to what most of us believe in. Note, they do not hurt others. In fact, some of them may even do good better than the Holy Joes. Do they deserve to have no life because they are gays?
However, every society has its identity and democracy, whether we like it or not, is an ideal that should meet the needs of societies that accept it, with all their peculiarities. If this line of thought is right, then the passage of the anti-same sex marriage law by our legislature and its ratification by the president may be seen as a bid to adapt democracy to the needs of the Nigerian society. The problem is; there are irreducible minimum standards if what we want is a democratic system. An open, diverse society in which minorities are not hounded is one of them. What should be the place of gays if viewed against this context?
Seriously, if the Nigerian government repeals this law, let it not be to humor the hypocritical West who do good business with China in spite of her political record. They cannot stand up to that Asian dragon so they accommodate her because they need her. Rather, let it be because the repeal reflects the wishes of the people; protects democracy and minorities who should have a place on God's green earth. On the other hand, if the law stands, the following measures should be adopted:
publish the entire law and make it available to Nigerians in as many languages and on many platforms as possible;
sensitize our law enforcement agencies;
ensure that the high priests of our judicial temple follow the law in letter and spirit.eg. you do not jail two men holding hands in the street; provide help and counsel for gays who want to quit; treat gays with respect every step of the way.
Perhaps these proposals may seem contradictory in the face of the law that spawned them. Scrapping it is the view some would hold. Personally, my Christian worldview is opposed to homosexuality but I would subscribe to persuasion, psychology, a rational approach, and above all, God's love, to get gays out of their closet instead of a wrong-headed coercion which President Jonathan and his men have adopted for mass appeal ahead of 2015. Whipping gays does not solve our problems as a country.
Henry C. Onyema is a writer and historian based in Lagos.