Gay-Marriage Law: US threatens to sanction Nigeria
on January 21, 2014 /
BY OKEY NDIRIBE, Sam Eyoboka & Victoria Ojeme
Abuja—Leading western countries piled pressure on the Federal government, yesterday, following President Goodluck Jonathan’s signing of the Same-Sex Prohibition Act 2014. The latest country is the United States of America, whose Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr James Entwistle threatened that the United States will scale down its support for HIV/AIDS and anti-malaria programmes in response to the Federal Government’s position on the gay rights issue.
Member countries of the European Union and Canada have expressed their objection to the law but United States Ambassador to Nigeria said he was worried about “the implications of the anti-same sex marriage law which seems to restrict the fundamental rights of a section of the Nigerian population.”
This came as a former Nigerian Ambassador to US, Dahiru Suleiman, yesterday, described homosexuality and lesbianism as “animalistic and degrading to humanity.”
Also yesterday Christians in the northern part of Nigeria under the aegis of Christian Association of Nigeria in the 19 northern states an Abuja, hailed President Goodluck Jonathan for signing into law the anti-gay bill, urging him to ignore criticisms from Western nations, saying all religions in the country are united in their condemnation of same-sex marriage.
In a reaction to the recent move of government to outlaw homosexuality from this country, the Public Relations Officer of Northern CAN, Elder Sunday Oibe told Vanguard that Christians from the North and their counterparts in other religions have unanimously expressed gratitude to the president and the National Assembly for passing the Anti-Same Sex Marriage despite opposition from Europe and the US.
Speaking to news men in Abuja, yesterday, the American envoy said his interpretation of the new law was that “it could negatively affect the nation’s fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic”. Although the US envoy denied that his country plans to impose sanctions on Nigeria, he said: “We and other donors are looking at the issue of funding for HIV/AIDS. As you know, we put millions of dollars in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
“Although I am not a lawyer, I read the bill and it seems to me that it may put some restrictions on what we can do to help fight HIV/AIDS in this country. These are the issues we are looking at as we consider the law.”
The signing of the Same sex Prohibition Act by President Jonathan on January 7, 2014 has provoked negative reactions from member countries of EU, Canada and now the United States all of whom have alleged that the law is a violation of the fundamental human rights of Nigerians with same sex orientation.
Ambassador Entwistle said he was aware that “the issue of same-sex marriage was very controversial all over the world, including within the United States where 17 states out of 50 had endorsed it, but others still reject its legality”. According to him, “the issue that we see and I am speaking as a friend of Nigeria is that as I read the bill, it looks to me that it puts significant restrictions on the freedoms of assembly and expression; in my opinion which applies especially in advanced democracies, once government begins to say something in these areas, freedom no longer applies. It seems to me that this is a very worrisome precedent.”
A lecturer at Covenant University, Professor Kayode Soremekun said: “What is happening demonstrates the low level that the US treats its relation with Nigeria”.
He said every Nigerian should feel insulted that the US is threatening to stop assisting us on areas where we have the resources and human capacity to contend.
Said Professor Soremekun, “even when the West had their misgivings about Russia’s anti-gay law, they have not gone threatening them with sanctions and punitive action. We are not reckoned with in the international arena where we are getting assistance for HIV/AIDS, Malaria treatment drugs, polio virus crusade among other mundane issues”.
He continued: ”Nigeria is still a conservative society and the anti-gay law has united the ruling class and Nigerians outside government at this level of our national development. The US and its EU partners should be discussing serious issues; the leadership showed pro-activeness in trying to save the society from getting exposed to practices that are antithetical to our culture.
“We should be focussing on the items on the Bi-National Commission between both countries, but these threats show that we are nonentity in global arena. When the US is discussing with Iran on nuclear issues, they are threatening us on mundane issues”.
According to Soremekun, “we should be able to make the US and its EU allies realise that they cannot go to China to dictate their laws. China is still a communist country and they are falling over them selves to go to China and do business. We should make them realise what General Abacha did when he opened the door to China and Asian countries in the 1990s.”
Vanguard learnt that the US is committing “substantial” resources to fund the emergence of gay clubs and advocacy groups across Nigeria.
The Canadian Government had cancelled a planned state visit by President Jonathan which had been scheduled for next month. The Canadian government’s action which came within a week after the bill was signed into law is widely believed to be that country’s reaction to the President’s action of assenting to the bill which has so far enjoyed popular support in the country.
Homosexualism, lesbianism animalistic.
However, former Ambassador Suleiman, yesterday, described homosexuality and lesbianism as animalistic acts, degrading to humanity. Suleiman served as Nigerian envoy in several countries, including Pakistan, Brazil, Angola, United States of America, Ivory Coast, Poland, Australia and Sudan, among others.
Reacting to US threat of sanctions against Nigeria over the anti-gay law, Suleiman stressed the need for Nigerian leaders not to be dependent on foreign assistance for governance.
He said: “Homosexuality and lesbianism are offences against God; if any body wants to do it, he should do so secretly. It is not only animalistic but diminishes mankind.”
“If it is the money the US gives to us, let them keep the money. Nigeria is rich enough to take care of her people unlike other countries.”
Mum. I will say. Muum? I will say. It grooves so easy, a breath, a noise out of my mouth, mixed up with her breath, and she exhales. My heart gasps sharp and now my mind screams, sharp, so so hurt …
(A lost chapter from One Day I Will Write About This Place)
11 July, 2000.
This is not the right version of events.
Hey mum. I was putting my head on her shoulder, that last afternoon before she died. She was lying on her hospital bed. Kenyatta. Intensive Care. Critical Care. There. Because this time I will not be away in South Africa, fucking things up in that chaotic way of mine. I will arrive on time, and be there when she dies. My heart arrives on time. I am holding my dying mother’s hand. I am lifting her hand. Her hand will be swollen with diabetes. Her organs are failing. Hey mum. Ooooh. My mind sighs. My heart! I am whispering in her ear. She is awake, listening, soft calm loving, with my head right inside in her breathspace. She is so big – my mother, in this world, near the next world, each breath slow, but steady, as it should be. Inhale. She can carry everything. I will whisper, louder, in my minds-breath. To hers. She will listen, even if she doesn’t hear. Can she?
Mum. I will say. Muum? I will say. It grooves so easy, a breath, a noise out of my mouth, mixed up with her breath, and she exhales. My heart gasps sharp and now my mind screams, sharp, so so hurt so so angry.
“I have never thrown my heart at you mum. You have never asked me to.”
Only my mind says. This. Not my mouth. But surely the jerk of my breath and heart, there next to hers, has been registered? Is she letting me in?
Nobody, nobody, ever in my life has heard this. Never, mum. I did not trust you, mum. And. I. Pulled air hard and balled it down into my navel, and let it out slow and firm, clean and without bumps out of my mouth, loud and clear over a shoulder, into her ear.
“I am a homosexual, mum.”
This is the right version of events.
I am living in South Africa, without having seen my mother for five years, even though she is sick, because I am afraid and ashamed, and because I will be thirty years old and possibly without a visa to return here if I leave. I am hurricaning to move my life so I can see her. But she is in Nakuru, collapsing, and they will be rushing her kidneys to Kenyatta Hospital in Nairobi, where there will be a dialysis machine and a tropical storm of experts awaiting her.
Relatives will rush to see her and, organs will collapse, and machines will kick into action. I am rushing, winding up everything to leave South Africa. It will take two more days for me to leave, to fly out, when, in the morning of 11 July 2000, my uncle calls me to ask if I am sitting down.
“She’s gone, Ken.”
I will call my Auntie Grace in that family gathering nanosecond to find a way to cry urgently inside Baba, but they say he is crying and thundering and lightning in his 505 car around Nairobi because his wife is dead and nobody can find him for hours. Three days ago, he told me it was too late to come to see her. He told me to not risk losing my ability to return to South Africa by coming home for the funeral. I should not be travelling carelessly in that artist way of mine, without papers. Kenneth! He frowns on the phone. I cannot risk illegal deportation, he says, and losing everything. But it is my mother.
I am twenty nine. It is 11 July, 2000. I, Binyavanga Wainaina, quite honestly swear I have known I am a homosexual since I was five. I have never touched a man sexually. I have slept with three women in my life. One woman, successfully. Only once with her. It was amazing. But the next day, I was not able to.
It will take me five years after my mother’s death to find a man who will give me a massage and some brief, paid-for love. In Earl’s Court, London. And I will be freed, and tell my best friend, who will surprise me by understanding, without understanding. I will tell him what I did, but not tell him I am gay. I cannot say the word gay until I am thirty nine, four years after that brief massage encounter. Today, it is 18 January 2013, and I am forty three.
Anyway. It will not be a hurricane of diabetes that kills mum inside Kenyatta Hospital Critical Care, before I have taken four steps to get on a plane to sit by her side.
Will leave a small window open the night before she dies, in the July Kenyatta Hospital cold.
It is my birthday today. 18 January 2013. Two years ago, on 11 July 2011, my father had a massive stroke and was brain dead in minutes. Exactly eleven years to the day my mother died. His heart beat for four days, but there was nothing to tell him.
I am five years old.
He stood there, in overalls, awkward, his chest a railway track of sweaty bumps, and little hard beads of hair. Everything about him is smooth-slow. Bits of brown on a cracked tooth, that endless long smile. A good thing for me the slow way he moves, because I am transparent to people’s patterns, and can trip so easily and fall into snarls and fear with jerky people. A long easy smile, he lifts me in the air and swings. He smells of diesel, and the world of all other people’s movements has disappeared. I am away from everybody for the first time in my life, and it is glorious, and then it is a tunnel of fear. There are no creaks in him, like a tractor he will climb any hill, steadily. If he walks away, now, with me, I will go with him forever. I know if he puts me down my legs will not move again. I am so ashamed, I stop myself from clinging. I jump away from him and avoid him forever. For twentysomething years, I even hug men awkwardly.
There will be this feeling again. Stronger, firmer now. Aged maybe seven. Once with another slow easy golfer at Nakuru Golf Club, and I am shaking because he shook my hand. Then I am crying alone in the toilet because the repeat of this feeling has made me suddenly ripped apart and lonely. The feeling is not sexual. It is certain. It is overwhelming. It wants to make a home. It comes every few months like a bout of malaria and leaves me shaken for days, and confused for months. I do nothing about it.
I am five when I close my self into a vague happiness that asks for nothing much from anybody. Absent-minded. Sweet. I am grateful for all love. I give it more than I receive it, often. I can be selfish. I masturbate a lot, and never allow myself to crack and grow my heart. I touch no men. I read books. I love my dad so much, my heart is learning to stretch.
I am a homosexual.
By Olumide Femi Makanjuola, human rights activist, Special to CNN
updated 4:18 AM EST, Tue January 21, 2014
Editor’s note: Olumide Femi Makanjuola is Executive Director at The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIER), which ensure human rights protection and promotion regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Lagos, Nigeria (CNN) — Nigeria is second only to South Africa as the country with the highest number of HIV/AIDS sufferers; one would have thought a better gift for the New Year from the government to its people would be to urge the national legislature to pass the anti HIV-discrimination bill that has been with them for a while.
But alas, what the people received was a bill that further exposes them to violence and discrimination. While the signing of the bill has generated much reaction on both sides, most of its supporters have based their arguments on religion and African values, forgetting that what binds the nation together is not the divergence of religions but the respect for humanity that is enshrined in the 1999 constitution.
Olumide Femi Makanjuola
What the same-sex marriage (prohibition) bill in fact does is negate the principle of fundamental human rights of association, expression and dignity. When a law does this, it runs the risk of breeding anarchy, an experience that people who are or are merely perceived to be gay know all too much about in the form of blackmail, extortion and fear of arrest.
The law also acts against the principle of public health. With rates of HIV infection and AIDS running at 3.7% for the general population, and 17.2% among gay men, criminalizing organizations providing intervention for this population puts all Nigerians in jeopardy.
Another thing to note is about the public perception of the law: while many perceive there’s casual acceptance by many Nigerians of the bill, in fact many of those who have commented on the bill have not even read it.
Nigeria’s anti-gay law called ‘draconian’
Aside from the fact that sections of this law are in direct violation of our fundamental human rights — freedom of expression and assembly, freedom to have a private and family life — and set back the provision of healthcare services, they effectively signify that it is open season to attack the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community and mainstream society in general.
Already 10 people have been arrested for their perceived sexual orientation by law enforcement agencies across Nigeria, a human rights group said. The witch hunt to arrest many more by forcing names out of those arrested is also gathering momentum. The disturbing factor here is on what basis these individuals were arrested; we believe most have been detained due to anonymous tips that are inaccurate in most cases.
Many more of these violations of human rights will take place if this law is not repealed; blackmail and extortion will become commonplace against LGBT people and the Nigerians at large and little will be done to ensure that organizations providing healthcare service for this population are able to carry out their work in responding to the HIV/AIDs epidemic in the country.
We therefore implore the Nigerian President and his good government to repeal this law, which, we fear, could blow into an unbearable catastrophe for Nigeria and its citizens.
Yoweri Museveni says there are better ways to “rescue” gays from their “abnormality” than jailing them for life.
Uganda’s president has refused to approve a controversial bill that would see homosexuals jailed for life, saying there were better ways to “rescue” people from their “abnormality”.
In a letter to parliament, Yoweri Museveni said gays would go “underground and continue practicing homosexuality or lesbianism for mercenary reasons”, according to the independent newspaper, Daily Monitor.
The anti-gay bill passed through the Ugandan parliament last month after its architects agreed to drop a death penalty clause.
"The question at the core of the debate on homosexuality is what do we do with an abnormal person? Do we kill him/her? Do we imprison him/her? Or we do contain him/her?" the president was quoted as writing in a letter to parliament.
He said that homosexuality was caused by either “random breeding” or a need to make money.
And lesbians, he said, chose female partners because of “sexual starvation” and the failure to marry a man. But he said improving the nation’s economy would stop people becoming gay.
Museveni continued: “You cannot call an abnormality an alternative orientation. It could be that the Western societies, on account of random breeding, have generated many abnormal people,” he said, adding that other people became gay for “mercenary reasons”, or, in the case of lesbians, a lack of sex with men.
The report said the president believed that improving Uganda’s economy - including rapid industrialisation and modernising agriculture - was the best way to “rescue” young people from the risk of “disgusting behaviour”.
Gay men and women in Uganda face frequent harassment and threats of violence, and rights activists have also reported cases of lesbians being subjected to “corrective” rapes.
In 2011, prominent Ugandan gay rights activist David Kato was bludgeoned to death at his home after a newspaper splashed photos, names and addresses of gays in Uganda on its front page along with a yellow banner reading “Hang Them”.
AIDS activists say that if passed the bill would have prevented gays from having access to essential public health information, such as how to protect themselves from HIV and how to access life-saving treatment and support services.
great news. trans lives matter! justice for islan nettles will be
screening at the san francisco transgender film festival on
Sunday November 10 @ 2:30PM
AFTERNOON DELIGHT: TRANSGENDER SHORTS
go see it on the big screen and support artist/activist/community members and your community based organizations doing the work to keep us safe, well and in community.
The San Francisco Transgender Film Festival (SFTFF) made history as North America’s first transgender film festival in 1997 – and has built community, launched careers, and mentored emerging transgender filmmakers and festivals around the world. SFTFF screens films that promote the visibility of transgender and gender variant people and challenge mainstream media stereotypes of our communities.
great stuff from a great artist!
The famously subversive film festival celebrates its 16th year with a mix of shorts and features spotlighting characters who seek recognition on their own terms.
Now in its sixteenth year, the San Francisco Transgender Film Festival (formerly known as Tranny Fest) offers a mix of short and long-form films that celebrate the myriad experiences of people who are treated, when they are acknowledged at all, with disdain or murderous hate by society at large. One of festival’s co-founders, filmmaker Christopher Lee, committed suicide in December 2012 after years of struggling with depression and untreated mental illness. It is in his honor, and all those who seek recognition on their own terms, that this exciting collection of cinematic moments is presented.
Opening the festival is a spate of short films, none of which surpass 20 minutes, but most certainly pack an emotional and intellectual punch. In The Fiction of the Fix (Friday, November 8, 8pm, Roxie Theater), we witness actress Therese Garcia as the character August as she takes stock of previous failed relationships. But rather than wallowing in self pity and gallons of ice cream, she methodically conjures, falls in love with, and then squanders each relationship as the “perfection” of each partner gives way to all-too-human imperfection. The cycle is ritualistic, where it appears that August seeks something with each new paramour that simply can’t be called forth from the ether. Director Cathy Sitzes reinforces what we already know — partnerships, particularly the romantic kind, are messy affairs. The insight isn’t revelatory, but it is delivered here with ample charm.
Making or discovering oneself is a prominent theme in many of the festival’s offerings. Just as Walt Whitman’s poem “Song of Myself” (1855) portrays “self” as both the seeking individual and an assembly of multitudes, so too do these films touch on the private and public experiences of forging an identity that fits. Performing Girl features multi-talented Sri Lankan-American artist D’Lo and the story of how he came of age while navigating gender and identity questions, deeply entrenched cultural expectations, and the death of his sibling. D’Lo’s story will be familiar to many: knowing early in life that he did not “fit,” yet not knowing how to act as either male or female; the simultaneous joy and burden of shouldering parental dreams, and then mustering the will to live on his own terms. The film deftly combines animation, D’Lo’s hilarious live performances, and interviews with the artist and his parents, and reinforces the power of humor to inform difficult conversations. In Change Over Time, Ewan Duarte recounts the experience of transitioning from a female to male identity, both physically and psychologically, though the introduction of testosterone, or “T”, to his body. Gorgeous imagery of natural settings is overlaid by Duarte’s narration, which is drawn from the audio journal he maintained as his transition took place. What’s fascinating is hearing Duarte’s voice deepen as the days and weeks progress after the introduction of testosterone. If you’re curious to know the intimate details, the thoughts and hopes of a person in transition, this is film is for you. (Friday, November 8, 8pm, Roxie Theater)
At age 51, Gabbi Ludwig returned to school in order to realize a long-held goal of playing collegiate basketball. According to NCAA rules, if an athlete’s gender changes, they are eligible to participate in a team sport for which their eligibility long ago expired. Gender Games follows Gabbi through practices, made all the more grueling by age and time spent away from the sport, and interactions with her teammates and family. Gabbi and her partner wholly acknowledge the challenges posed by juggling work and school, family obligations, and one partner’s process of transition. They also stress that realizing Gabbi’s dream was absolutely worth the effort. The most heartening moments of this film come in watching Gabbi interact with her teammates. Not only was her skill and advantage as a 6-foot 7-inch player welcomed, Gabbi was wholly embraced… as a woman, who was once a man. That fact floored me, particularly because it demonstrates that we are capable of welcoming what is unfamiliar. Against the backdrop of collegiate and professional sports, which may generously be described as tacitly supporting rape culture, it is deeply satisfying to watch women athletes at work in building community and kicking ass on the court. (Friday, November 8, 8pm, Roxie Theater)
The festival’s shorts program continues with two sessions, one nice and the other very naughty. In the first session, numerous notable films are offered. In But I’m a GenderQueer, the title a humorous riff on Jamie Babbit’s 1999 film But I’m a Cheerleader, we’re introduced to Lauren Soldano. (Editor’s note: in this description we use gender-neutral pronouns “zhe” and “hir”.) From the outset, it’s clear that zhe is having a rough day. Hir roommates in an intentional, women-focused household are all up in hir business about not participating in communal activities. To make matters worse, Lauren is visited by a ghost of gender identity past that harangues hir for thinking to abandon hir lesbian life in favor of masculinity and its patriarchal trappings. Ultimately, each of the figures (all are portrayed by Soldano) are silenced, or coalesced, as Lauren expresses what identity strategy works best for hir. Zhe is at ease in saying zhe doesn’t know where zhe falls along the gender spectrum, as though zhe is speaking to all the insensitive or uninformed people who presume to ask “what are you?” Also showing is a preview of the soon-to-be-released feature GRRL, which highlights the 1990s Riot Grrl movement, its famous and not-so-famous bands including Bikini Kill and L7, and the movement’s ties to third wave feminism. Then as now, the musicians and activists interviewed advocate for women’s empowerment in loud, unapologetic, and utterly vital terms. (Saturday, November 9, 7:30pm, Roxie Theater)
Rounding out Saturday’s programming, the adults-only movies include Courtney Trouble’s f***/talk and a commemorative screening of Christopher Lee’s Alley of the Trannyboys. Trouble interviews two trans-identified porn stars, Hayley Fingersmith and Jacques LaFemme, who answer the director’s questions about queerness and gender while a demonstration of how hot queer sex can be plays simultaneously. Trouble’s film may not have been possible without the groundbreaking work of Christopher Lee. When it debuted in 1998, Alley of the Trannyboys was the first full-length erotic film to feature an all-male cast. Lee effectively founded a genre of filmmaking, one that placed front and center bodies and identities that had never received any positive attention, least of which from the hetero-normative pornography industry. If this subject interests you, check out Lee’s work and see where it all began. (Saturday, November 9, 9:30pm, Roxie Theater. 18+ only, ID required)
The festival closes with a combination of short and full-length films affirming the variety of categories in which these films may or may not be comfortably situated and the positive effect their creation embodies. Trans Lives Matter! Justice for Islan Nettles, directed by Seyi Adebanjo, transports us to a vigil in New York’s Harlem neighborhood. Islan Nettles, a trans woman, was savagely beaten in front of a NYPD police station in her neighborhood in mid-August 2013. She died in the hospital not long after. Nettles achieved fame not by her interests or passions, but by the senseless violence that claimed her life. A report by the New Civil Rights Movement, released shortly after Nettles died, indicates that trans people are murdered at a rate nearly 50% higher than gays and lesbians. It is with that profoundly disturbing statistic in mind that Adebanjo’s film tracks mourner responses at the vigil. When a speaker referred to Islan as “he,” a righteously angry Mariah Lopez corrected him, shouting that no one should be speaking on behalf of the deceased unless they know the challenges trans people live through everyday. On a lighter, restorative note, One Zero One is a full-length documentary/fairy tale portraying the lives of trans artists BabyBJane and Cybersissy. While I wasn’t able to preview the film, it is on the long list of films I will see when this year’s San Francisco Transgender Film Festival finally opens this week. In a town that values its storied cinematic history, these films and the talented people who create them fit right in. (Sunday, November 10, 2:30 and 4pm at the Roxie Theater)
The San Francisco Transgender Film Festival runs November 8-10, 2013 at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco. For tickets and information visit sftff.org.Sunday November 10 @ 2:30PM
AFTERNOON DELIGHT: TRANSGENDER SHORTS - https://www.facebook.com/events/455444017908205/
Trans Lives Matter! Justice for Islan Nettles
- a multimedia photography piece by Seyi Adebanjo
Because the personal is political.
Because the brutal and increasing attacks on Trans Womyn of Color are outrageous their victimization causes outrage.
Because healing and action tighten our fists and boom our voices.
Islan’s murder was a hate crime, she was beaten to death in front of an
NYPD precinct in Harlem. Islan was taken off life support on Thursday
August 22, dying of her injuries. She was only 21.
I covered her August 27th, 2013 Vigil at Jackie Robinson Park in Harlem steps away from where she was murdered.
This project covers the love and support community brought to support each other and her family; along with the continued oppression that occurs in the Queer community noting the increasingly particular targets of transgender and gender non conforming people.
Trans Lives Matter! Justice for Islan Nettles
by Seyi Adebanjo
Racism and Disenfranchisement battles in North Carolina. Short story from a young black girl who once lived there.
"The bulldykers would come and bring their women with them. And you wasn’t supposed to jive with them, you know. They danced up a breeze. They did the Charleston, they did a little bit of everything. They were all colored women. Sometimes we ran into someone who had a white woman with them. But me, I’d venture out with any of them. I just had a ball."
—Mabel Hampton, about Harlem rent parties in her building on 122nd Street in the 1920s