One of the pitfalls in the arguments of Nigerians and Western government officials who are opposed to the Nigerian same-sex Marriage Prohibition Act is their stark ignorance of Nigerian situation and the laws of the land of Nigeria.  Sodomy, which is the most essential component of homosexuality, has been a crime in the southern states of Nigeria since 1916 and in the northern Nigeria since 1960. This, therefore, means that the anti-homosexuality Act which was recently enacted in Nigeria is not the initial law that criminalizes homosexual acts in Nigeria; it is rather a reinforcement of what has already been a crime in Nigeria for 98 years and before her independence. To be precise, sections 214 and 215 of Criminal Code Act, an Act which has been in application to the southern areas of Nigeria since 1916 and is now chapter 77 of the laws of the federation of Nigeria, 1990, provide, 214. “Any person who- (1) has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature; or (2) has carnal knowledge of an animal; or (3) permits a male person to have carnal knowledge of him or her against the order of nature; is guilty of a felony, and is liable to imprisonment for fourteen years.” 215. “Any person who attempts to commit any of the offences defined in the last preceding section is guilty of a felony, and is liable to imprisonment for seven years.” In the interpretation section of that Act, this further provision is made; “Christian marriage” means a marriage which is recognized by the law of the place where it is contracted as the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.”

 The penal Code has been in application in the North since 1960 and in 1963, it became chapter 89 of laws of Northern Nigeria. Now this code has been renamed as Harmonized Sharia Penal Code Law, 2002, in many Northern states and its section 129 provides, “Whoever has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man or woman is said to commit the offence of sodomy” Later the code states, “Whoever has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to fourteen years and shall also be liable to fine.” 

From all these provisions, it means that the agitation or criticism against the recent legal enactment or against President Jonathan or Nigerian National Assembly by Nigerians who call themselves gay-rights defenders and their foreign backers is misplaced and is like crying over milk that got spilt in Nigeria 98 years ago or locking up the barn door after the horses have bolted. This further means that the Nigerian same-sex Marriage Prohibition Act signed by Nigerian President is NOT a violation of the fundamental rights of Nigerian gays and lesbians because homosexuality has been an illegality in Nigeria before its enactment and since 1916.

Again, for over 300 years homosexuality was punished as a crime in the UK, but in 1959 it was decriminalized following Lord John Wolfenden’s report of 1957 and when Anthony Eden was the Prime Minister. The circumstance that led to the decriminalization of homosexual acts in UK was that the son of the then Prime Minister, Nicholas Eden and the son of Lord John Wolfenden, Jeremy Wolfenden, were both gays, and in 1985 Nicholas Eden became one of the first human beings to die of Aids.

In the UK, homosexuality was decriminalized in 1959 not on grounds of human rights and not because the British attained higher standards in human civilization. In Britain, homosexuality was decriminalized as a strategy to prevent the gay sons of high government functionaries, like Lord John Wolfenden and Prime Minister Anthony Eden from going to jail, and this was done in disregard for overwhelming, deafening public outcries to the contrary. The questions that need clear answers from the critics of the Nigerian same-sex Marriage Prohibition Act at this juncture are: Why did the British who introduced the anti-homosexuality law into Nigerian statute books fail to annul it at the same time they did so in Britain since such a law allegedly violates the fundamental rights of gays? Does the above-mentioned circumstance under which homosexuality was decriminalized in the UK exist in Nigeria today?

Another pitfall in the arguments of the Nigerian new Act critics is their claim that human beings are not supposed to be discriminated against on grounds of their sexual orientation. In all Western nations, polygamy, incest, and pedophilia, which are different sexual orientations, are crimes and whoever commits them must face a jail term. For instance, Warren Steed Jeffs, a white American and the former president of Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of latter-Day Saints who had sex with his daughter, his sister, his nieces and cousins and who had many wives, is now serving a life imprisonment in the State of Utah, USA. John Kerry, the American foreign Secretary who also condemned Nigerians and their President for enacting the new anti-same-sex law, should have asked his fellow Americans why it is appropriate to sentence a man to life imprisonment for cases of incest and polygamy since all human persons deserve to live in freedom, equality and without discrimination on grounds of their sexual orientation.

While some of the Nigerian self-made defenders of gay-rights have argued that homosexuality is a psychiatric condition and jailing homosexuals because of their sexual orientation is like taking an insane person to prison, others among them maintain that it is a natural impulse or tendency which can never be treated or controlled through criminalization. The truth is that the exact definition/diagnosis of homosexuality has been enshrouded, more often than not, in intellectual dishonesty, perverted dialectic, insular rationalization and discord mostly by Western psychiatrists, psychologists, and politicians since late 20th century. For instance, before the year 2000, American Psychiatric Association included homosexuality in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) as a sociopathic personality disorder or perverse psychosexual disorder, but since 2000, homosexuality has been removed from that Manual in controversial circumstances and based on lobby and petitions from American homosexuals themselves.

Homosexuality is now being described in many American professional and socio-political circles as a purely behavioral issue. If it is true that homosexuality is a behavioral condition, one may ask: why can’t it be controlled through criminalization if it offends against the value system of a nation, just like incest, pedophilia, and polygamy which also are behavioral issues?
Another vexing issue in the Nigerian new anti-same-sex law controversy is that millions of Nigerians who oppose the liberalization of homosexuality and gay marriages in Nigeria have been castigated and described as primitive and slaves to tradition and religion by these hypocritical Nigerian self-acclaimed gay-rights activists.

Well, many of us Nigerians who oppose the idea of homosexuality and its liberalization in Nigeria do so not just out of tradition and religion. Nigerians in their millions seriously frown at homosexuality and same-sex unions because the practices are repugnant to Nigerian sense of good conscience and out of our sense of duty to defend the existing laws of the land and protect Nigerian public policy, public decency, public health and morality. What millions of Nigerians are saying is that it is not in their good conscience that a man should be allowed to marry another man or a woman to another woman, and carnal intercourse should be heterosexual as ordained by Nature’s discipline.

Again, Nigeria has nothing to gain from homosexuality and same-sex marriage, and in all decent human societies, the value system, the public good and interests of the people guide governmental actions, including laws of the land, and not the morbid desires of the lunatic fringe. According to current scientific and statistical literature, homosexuality as a behavior is fraught with such diseases and conditions as AIDS, colon cancer, rectal cancer, prostate cancer, anal cancer, mouth cancer, community pneumonia, alcoholism, prostitution, sex promiscuity, drug addiction/abuse,  serial child sex abuse, family breakdown/disorder, spiritual/moral anarchy, and other health hazards. Critics of the continued criminalization of homosexual acts in Nigeria should learn a lesson from South Africa which legalized and liberalized homosexuality and gay marriage in 2006.  Since then, South Africa has witnessed an astronomical increase in hate crimes against the gay men and lesbians in that country. On daily basis, homosexuals are mobbed, lynched, and murdered in the streets of South Africa because the liberalization of homosexuality in that country is in contrast with the values of the people, and South Africa is now the number one country with the highest incidence of AIDS and second in murder crime rate in the world. 

 Those who oppose the criminalization of homosexuality and same-sex marriage in Nigeria should come forward and tell Nigerians the inherent benefits of those behavioral disorders. I have heard some of the opponents say that since some developed nations like USA and UK, have legalized the practices, Nigeria should also do the same. In my view, that argument is lame and infra-dig. Same-sex marriage is illegal in over 30 States of America, and Nigeria is not a copycat nation and should not sacrifice the health, the good morality and values of her people at the altar of the liberty of the few who choose to live a life devoid of nature’s discipline. Again, human civilization is not essentially a matter of material technology and infrastructural development, but a function of Nature’s discipline. Many of these opponents have failed to realize that Nigeria is a country with an inadequate health care system and is ill-prepared for the numerous health problems that come with homosexuality and same-sex marriages.  Some of them have even argued that homosexuality is harmless to the public; they have failed to know that HIV/AIDS came into human race through the sexual activities of homosexuals in Los Angeles, USA in 1981, and today, every living human being on earth is one way or the other at risk for AIDS. That is one of the evils in homosexuality. 

Nigerians should focus on developing their industrial, scientific, technological, entrepreneurial and intellectual creativities without which no nation can achieve any meaningful material and economic development. They should continue to know that material development without Nature’s discipline is akin to nothing. They should continue to resist the temptation of allowing Americans and the British to teach them what human rights and human freedom mean. Nigerians should know that Americans and the British are accustomed to teaching other nationals the need to respect human rights and freedom while the fire of racism, discrimination, suppression, domination, prejudice, and racial hatred against minorities is smoldering or burning unquenchably in every aspect of their public and private lives.

As already said, homosexuality and same-sex marriage have numerous negative health outcomes. Nigerians who want Nigeria to decriminalize homosexuality and same-sex marriage are advised to, first of all, build and furnish hospitals in Nigeria to take care of the many diseases that come with homosexuality and lesbianism. Nigerians should maintain their God-based spirituality and refuse to toe the path of those who choose to deny or question the existence of God, and in all earnest, they should continue to internalize the message of James Anthony Froude who mused, “I believe in God, not because the Bible tells me that he is, but because my heart tells me so; and the same heart tells me we can only have His peace with us if we love Him and obey Him.” And I continue to ask: what gain have countries that have liberalized homosexuality and gay marriages derived from them?

Alphonsus Nwadike,Attorney at law and Certified Legal Nurse Consultant writes from the United States.

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