Sometime back, the whole world woke to the shocking news that Nigeria had passed the “Anti-Gay Law”. Many people learnt of the possibility of jailing a gay couple for a maximum of 14 years. Homosexuality is illegal in most African nations based on remnants of sodomy laws introduced during the British colonial era and perpetuated by cultural beliefs. Punishments across the continent range from fines to years in prison. Worldwide, a growing number of countries now allow same-sex marriage, the majority of them in Europe. People having knowledge about the union could also be imprisoned for a maximum of 10 years. Nigeria recognises neither same-sex marriages nor civil unions for same-sex couples, the following are 10 things you didn’t know about gay marriage in Nigeria.
1. Gay unions have always existed
It’s only in the recent past that people started paying attention to gay marriages in Nigeria. This was being fanned by the proposed Anti-Gay Bill which is now Law and the activist groups. However, the ordinary Nigerian knows that these unions have always existed. In fact, statistics put that 1 out of 5 Nigerians has in one way or another been involved with the same-sex.
2. A Western Idea
Opponents to the gay marriage in Nigeria believe that this practice is a Western ideology. They view it as an erosion of African culture which prohibits same-sex marriages. The influence is largely fuelled by the influence of western culture through daily interaction and also the media.
3. Gay Marriages Can Never End
People against gay and lesbian unions breathed a sigh of relief when the bill was passed. However, just like in many other regions, quite a number of Nigerians know that the marriages can never end. Religion and culture has always been the main driver against this act. However, people are moving away from religion and culture.
4. There has never been gay marriage
“What is gay marriage?” This is the first question you might be asked by many Nigerians. Truth of the matter is that there has never been any recorded gay marriage in Nigeria. Since time immemorial, gayism and lesbianism have always been ridiculed. Therefore, the people involved rarely go public about it.
5. Gay marriage – Loose definition
Defining gay marriage is rather hard in the current constitution. This has even been complicated by the new Anti-Gay Law. With different types of marriages and also the likelihood of overlooking personal rights and freedom, calling a person gay is more of a personal opinion.
6. Most Gay Marriages are based on financial gains
Taking a deeper look into the gay marriage in Nigeria, it is clear that most aren’t done naturally but because of need. Many of the couples engage in the practice or solidified unions simply for financial gains. If a better option was to be offered, many would gladly walk away.
7. Gay Marriage Seen As Contributing to the AIDS Scourge
The most common reason for discriminating or even incriminating gay people is that it goes against the African culture. Religion also largely contributes to the thinking. Nonetheless, the AIDS pandemic has also fueled the drive to outlaw the practice. A high population of the citizens in Nigeria is affected by HIV/AIDS.
8. The fight against gay marriage in Nigeria is just for public show
More often than not, men-of-the cloth (religious leaders), politicians and other influential social figures always come out breathing fire against homosexuality and gay marriages. But, it’s a known fact that the same people, who in the “day” are against the practice, are same people encouraging it at “night.”
9. Many Gay couples in Nigeria are Bi-sexual
People engaging in same-sex unions may also be in a straight-marriage setting. Many are fathers/mothers and also have children. This has always been the norm hence trying to draw the line between the two completely-opposite unions is quite a task. Some do this as a cover-up while others discover their inclinations while in a straight-marriage.
10. Unequal Condemnation
Lesbianism is more acceptable than gayism. Two ladies walking hand-in-hand or displaying affection in public may be overlooked. However, for two men to even share a brotherly hug, the people around will drop what they were doing just to witness the event. This probably explains why the number of men engaging in the activity is perceived to be less than that of women.
The Anti-Gay Law came at a time when other countries were warming up to the idea of seeing gays and lesbians getting married legally. France, the US, and also South Africa had done it. Well, on paper the unions are prohibited in Nigeria. However, based on the above list of 10 things you didn’t know about gay marriage in Nigeria, the unions still exist but in utmost secrecy.