BY CHARLES ADINGUPU
From Europe to America, the anti-gay law now tops agenda in most politician discourse. In Britain, the story is no way different as Prime Minister David Cameron declared before Common Wealth leaders that future aids from his country would be contingent on recognition of gay rights. Already, U.S. President, Barack Obama has signed the bill into law legalising gay.
The United Nations and some Western nations are currently imploring African governments to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) rights. The UN Secretary General, Banki-Moon who has been harshly criticised by African leaders, told a gathering of human rights council last year “I did not grow up talking about these issues.
But I learned to speak out because lives are at stake. And because it is our duty under the UN charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to protect the rights of everyone, everywhere.”
Already, two-thirds of African countries have laws which criminalise consensual same sex acts, according to Cary Alan Johnson, executive director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), a New York based gay advocacy group.
Though, homophobia is currently on the rise in Africa, and virtually much of it is state-generated. So far, many African leaders have instructed lawmakers to stiffen laws against same sex acts and same sex marriage.
In Nigeria, the anti-gay bill is like a phoenix which rose from its ashes. Last year, the Nigerian Senate debated on the anti-gay marriage bill which criminalises gay union. For some time, the lawmakers were more or less hesitant to put the final nail on the coffin of the same sex marriage bill.
But just recently, it was exhumed from the grave. The Bill sponsored by Senator Magnus Abe of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Rivers State, prescribes 14 years jail term for anybody convicted of contracting marriage between same sex.
The Bill which punishes those aiding and abetting such unions with 10 years imprisonment, also stated that foreigners without diplomatic protection and humanitarian workers will be prosecuted under the new law.
As most Nigerians wait patiently for the endorsement of the Bill by President Goodluck Jonathan, they were of the view that same sex marriage is an aberration within the realms of African cosmology.
For Chief Edwards Odiete, a traditional title holder in Urhoboland, Delta State, it is a taboo for a man to get married to his fellow man and same applies to the woman.
“What are they (gays) trying to prove, that God Almighty who made procreation in human life does not know what He was doing? These are all foreign culture imported by our children who went overseas to study and got stucked in the culture of the whiteman,” the traditional ruler said.
An Islamic clergyman, Alhaji Abudullahi Isah told Saturday Vanguard that homosexuality is against the ordinance of the Islam.
In similar vein, a clergyman in a Pentecostal church based in Lagos, Pastor Richard Adewale described the popularity of homosexuality as signs of the end time.
Pastor Richard said that it was ugly incident as homosexuality that compelled God to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah when the people then engaged with homosexuality with imperial arrogance. According to the man of God, people engage in this nefarious but clandestine activity are only taunting God. He, however, warned that in no time, the wrath of God may descend on them unexpectedly as such persons are mainly cult members obeying the instructions of their cult group.
A Catholic priest, Reverend Father Cyril Mbata, said Catholic Church remains resolute on its stand against homosexuality in Nigeria and even elsewhere in the world.
“I remember while I was in Ireland and some gay groups were protesting, some people in the neighbourhood hurled stones and insults at them” Rev. Fr. Mbata recalls.
He lamented that those practising homosexuality, ironically, lumped the acts under the umbrella of human rights abuse.
Against this backdrop, self confessed Lesbian, Dr. Obiora, a Nigerian based in abroad described moves by the Senate to place a blanket ban on homosexuality as an infringement on right of people.
According to her, lesbians and gays deserved to be allowed to their lives since Nigeria is a secular state.
But again where does the right of the people begins and ends? Perhaps, it may go beyond living in bestiality.