In Nigeria, depth of the sentiments of indignation and hate towards LGBTQ persons, in relation to the customary procedures or traditional belief has engendered an abuse of freedom of association which in turn roll-outs multiplying acts of ritual practices with no serious efforts from the authorities to stop the disturbing trend and associated threat orchestrated by stigma. Nigeria [Giant of Africa] among 32 countries in Africa, enacted identified legislation that criminalizes same-sex relationships and same-sex sexual acts. According to the national profile of Nigeria, LGBT people are criminalized under both the Criminal Code Act and the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act (SSMPA) and about 97% Nigerians [including family members, religious groups, Nigeria police force plus media] direct seamless violence or discrimination on sexual and gender minorities. In reality, scope of the law is seemingly wider; so, it forbids any cohabitation between same-sex sexual partners and bans any “public show of same sex amorous relationship. The Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act (SSMPA) imposes a 14-year prison sentence on any person, [guilty of a felony] who has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature, or permits a male or female person to have carnal knowledge of him or her against the order of nature.
According to the report reaching us from anonymous victim, she stated, “At the heat of the prescribed threats, my husband & I became more confused and of course suffered immeasurable physical, health and emotional damage, we were no longer sleeping and my husband’s blood pressure triggered, leading him to be put on medications”
She narrated that the incident of intimidation became cataclysmic on a fateful Monday in December, 2019; when her husband’s maternal cousin, Obiageli Obi, whom she didn’t get along with, returned to their house.
The story ensues…,
“Obageli had lived with us for about 6 months prior to that ugly day. She had travelled to the East and was not expected back till after Christmas. “We never got along but she stayed because of my husband’s family. “We didn’t realize, in our excitement that the room door was not properly shot and secure. “My husband’s maternal cousin, came in and caught us in the middle of sexual amorous act with my friend. “To her dismay, She raised an alarm, which led to the some community members to trooped in and held us hostage, they contacted the police, but my husband arrived upon phone call to him, he pleaded to take us away and gathered me and children to an unknown location, before arrival of Nigeria police lest we were lynched by the mob. Hmm…, that unimaginable circumstance really affected my children at school and in the community, as schoolmates and children in the community, kept on harassing them. My husband was also faced with stigmatization at work by his colleagues”.
“Apparently, I had been in confidential relationship for almost 3 years because of my solitary living, especially when my husband was working in the Niger Delta region, outside Lagos State [where we live as family] and rarely comes home for Months, though, he had been transferred back to Lagos before the incident.
“To make matters worse, my husband’s kinsmen and the head of the family in the village showed interest in the matter as they described it as a Taboo and prescribed a cleansing ritual with sacrificial atonement at Okija shrine consequent upon my pregnancy at the time of alleged unlawful act”.
This report epitomizes the incident as unfortunate and at the same time identifies the inhumane impacts of SSMPA on fundamental human rights of association of LGBT individuals. In fact, legislation already criminalized consensual same-sex conduct with extensive increase of violence including attacks and extortion by police authorities in Nigeria. Nigerians can be civil and understanding instead of committing other crimes owing to the supposedly assumed unlawfulness.
Recall, survey by NOI Polls, 2017 revealed general positive stance towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender with an established increased percentage from 7 percent to 39 percent, that government should rescind Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act (SSMPA) and sustain the rights sexual minority in the country.