The recent turn of events in Nigeria, where they are rushing a homophobic bill into law, is unbelievably lamentable. This is a country of 158 million people, a country which, like all countries, faces actual, serious social and political problems. (Not that bigotry’s damage is limited only only to its direct targets, of course.) As Wayne Besen points out, homophobia is a mark of a country’s backwardness:
Leaders of such lands desperately look for scapegoats to distract the public from noticing their dismal failures….Homophobia virtually never stands alone. It can only flower in corrupt environments that lack basic freedom, devalue education, limit liberty, have huge income disparities, degrade women, discourage religious pluralism, mock intellectuals, and promote superstition at the expense of science.
For those of us watching Nigeria embarrass and uglify itself, there’s a petition to sign and an article to read. Nigerian journalist Chude Jideonwo writes with conviction of his disappointment and shame at this bill.
Our legislators were hard at work over a considerable number of weeks while the rest of sane Nigeria, in a state of suspended disbelief, ignored them; convinced that, in a country with pressing issues such as fuel subsidy removal and debilitating insecurity, this frivolous legislation would not see light of day.
Until yesterday when, of course, it did.
Dead cliches like “God did not make Adam and Steve” continue to get excited choruses from sedated congregations and people still declare with ignorance that “homosexuality is not a part of our culture”, conveniently skimming over historical evidence of the practice in the East and North of the country; and blissfully unaware that the origins of homophobia in our societies can only be traced to the influx of foreign religions.
Indeed, you have to weep for a people that decry “foreign imperialism” on one hand, and then ignorantly hide under the cover of colonial influences to perpetuate intolerance.
It’s the same country whose ex-president recently paid a ‘courtesy visit’ to appease confessed terrorists; the same country where four men who savagely raped a girl and recorded it on video were defended by a police chief as “dealing with snobbish girls.” Indeed, what else can one expect from a Senate that houses a member who defiled and took for a wife, a girl barely in her teens only last year?
But gays — who only pray for the right to be left alone since they do the rest of us no harm – are the mortal threat to our “moral fabric”. They severely threaten the moral fabric of a nation which finds its place in the bottom of corruption rankings years in a row thanks to politicians like Mark who have sodomized the populace for decades now.
Today, I am ashamed to be Nigerian.
This bill didn’t come from nowhere. A look at the ugliness aimed at Jideonwo in the Twittersphere gives you a sobering sense of how pervasive homophobia already is in Nigeria. Fortunately, many Nigerians are applauding the article, too.