Nigeria’s anti-gay laws have been overtly criticized by the western forces, but the culturally disciplined nation has always taken a firm stand. This has however made Nigeria be perceived by these countries as homophobic. Despite several stern rejections, the United States of America under the leadership of President Joe Biden has revived the previously failed move to compel Nigeria to legalize laws to accommodate Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer and Intersex, LGBTQI people in the country.

It is even worse now, with the Americans threatening to sanction Nigeria and some other countries that have refused to amend their laws to accommodate LGBTQI people. But as a predominantly conservative country, it is always unlikely that Nigeria would revisit its anti-gay marriage law to strengthen bilateral relations with the US. No matter the level of intimidation or blackmail, it is public knowledge that Nigeria would never succumb to such.

Recall that despite international pressure from the Obama-led US government of which Biden was Vice, ex-President Goodluck Jonathan signed the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act in January 2014, prescribing between 10 and 14 years in prison for cohabitation between same-sex sexual partners, public show of same-sex relationship, registration, operation or participation in gay clubs, societies and organization, amongst others.

As contained in a presidential memorandum issued by the new US government last week, the sanctions which are aimed at expanding the protection of the rights of LGBTQI people worldwide may include financial punishment and visa restrictions. The memo also directed US agencies working in foreign countries to work harder to combat the criminalization by foreign governments of the LGBTQI status.

“When foreign governments move to restrict the rights of LGBTQI+ persons or fail to enforce legal protections in place, thereby contributing to a climate of intolerance, agencies engaged abroad shall consider appropriate responses, including using the full range of diplomatic and assistance tools and, as appropriate, financial sanctions, visa restrictions, and other actions.

“All human beings should be treated with respect and dignity and should be able to live without fear no matter who they are or whom they love. The United States belongs at the forefront of this struggle – speaking out and standing strong for our most dearly held values.

 “To further repair our moral leadership, I’m also issuing a presidential memo to agencies to reinvigorate our leadership on the LGBTQI issues and do it internationally,” part of Biden’s memo read.

While the US remains one of Nigeria’s major havens of foreign investments, Biden has a lot to do in terms of repairing the already broken relationship between the two countries. He must improve bilateral ties, but not by blackmail. His predecessor, Donald Trump did not do well in that regard. He never visited Nigeria as president. When eventually he met President Muhammadu Buhari in 2018 in Washington, there was little or nothing to be excited about. Nothing tangible came out of the meeting.

Given Nigeria’s strict socio-cultural background especially on these matters, it is largely impossible for this threat to scale through. While some medical experts have held that the same-sex practice is medically related, or a mental disorder per se, spiritualists have mostly demonized it. Whichever way, the fact remains that it is not acceptable in the Nigerian culture. Those caught indulging in the practice have either been publicly shamed or even lynched before the authorities step in.

Just as a renowned cleric in Uganda postulated when he appeared on a live television show side by side with a lesbian woman, gay practice no matter how it is portrayed or painted, is sodomy as it is, and is never acceptable in Africa.

Sadly, these groups of people were born into the world by parents. They have descendants. They have a lineage for which they are obligated as humans to transcend from generation to generation. This is how a family lineage is preserved. It is only inconsiderate and selfish of the LGBTQI people to choose not to perform this human task because of a confused libido. But Nigeria’s stand arguably, no matter the government in power, whether Muslim or Christian, from whichever region of the country, remains clear and cannot be manipulated.

If Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni is now advocating for the legalization of same-sex practice in his country, it is clear he is doing so out of pressure from foreign powers. African society would never support sodomy.

Perpetrators of this act are always quick to defend that however, adults choose to practice their sexual adventure in their privacy, it is their own business, hence, it should be respected. But is that how is the Supreme Being that we look up to made it be? Obviously, man and woman were created to complement each other in every ramification, sex inclusive.

But there are also health implications tied to this practice. In Africa, findings have shown that up to 70 per cent of homosexuals are HIV positive. Further study also reveals that these homosexuals are at risk to die from this disease simply because of the way they practice sex (anal penetration). Fluid from the penis of one homosexual is passed directly into the lungs of the other. The lungs are only expected to expunge air or any other toxics, and not to take in any substance, hence the likely danger. Likewise, as practised by lesbians, the art of licking each other’s privates exposes the risk of orally contracting gonorrhoea, syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Reacting to renewed move by the US, the Muslim Rights Concern in Nigeria, MURIC, has maintained that Nigeria has its own cultural and religious beliefs; therefore it cannot allow America to adulterate its people through its globalization policies.

MURIC’s Director, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, in a statement issued last week, said Nigeria will not bow to the pressure of practising same-sex marriage despite threats of impending sanctions from the United States. When reminded of the huge financial, economic and security aids Nigeria might lose if it does not dance to America’s tune in terms of same-sex law, he insisted that the country would not succumb to threats.

“My opinion is that Joe Biden has just taken his first major step on what concerns his country. I should state here that America cannot continue to force its own globalization policies on Nigeria.

“We won’t accept or practise that kind of law. It’s not possible. We did not vote for our elected representatives to make that kind of law. We didn’t vote our National Assembly members to bastardize our culture and violate our beliefs.

“Let him carry out his sanctions. Let him withdraw his financial aid and what have you. It’s not worth it. Whatever Joe Biden and the American government want to do, let them do it. Let them even invade Nigeria because of it, we don’t want blood money and we don’t want dirty money from America. Let them pocket their dirty dollars if that’s the way the game is played,” MURIC held.

Senior Advocates of Nigeria, have also flayed Biden’s threat to bamboozle Nigeria over the same-sex practice. Dayo Akinlaja in his statement said: “It is an interesting situation. To us, as Africans, it is morally despicable and reprehensible for such to be tolerated, even though in our Constitution, there is a provision that says there should be no discrimination against anyone on the basis of sex. It is such a conundrum and difficult situation really. But as Africans, it is morally reprobate and not something we will want to tolerate on the ground of not wanting to be sanctioned by the United States of America. The President of America cannot force us to do what we consider to be inimical; the question of sanctions should not deter us from abhorring what we consider to be immoral or sinful.

“By reason of our cultural belief, I don’t think anybody should be allowed to force us into something that we consider to be socially and morally unacceptable in our own system. Nigeria, as a sovereign nation, does not owe America any obligation to repeal a law that was made to reflect our culture and values. We cannot repeal our law to reflect the American way of life. We have our cultures and values, if they do not accord with that of Americans, so be it. Since we cannot compel America to comply with our own way of life, likewise, America cannot dictate to Nigeria the way of life it should condone. It will be a bad start for the new American President to attempt to promote what we as Africans classified as immorality. If it is an acceptable way of life in America, then so be it”.

Similarly, a former Secretary-General of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Mr Afam Osigwe, SAN, said: “I hate the idea of America using their superpower to force countries to adopt laws that will offend certain values and customs. It is offensive for America to attempt to force down their own values on other countries through threats. Countries should be allowed to develop at their own pace. Even in America, there are many people and religious organizations that are against homosexuality.

“I have not heard of any sanction against such persons. It is therefore bad for America to threaten Nigeria with sanctions over a law that in reality is not even being enforced. Having taken over from Trump, I think that threatening sovereign nations with sanctions over anti-gay law should not be one of the major starting points of Biden’s administration.”

QUOTE

The President of America cannot force us to do what we consider to be inimical; the question of sanctions should not deter us from abhorring what we consider to be immoral or sinful.


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