Help!!! ”After I Kissed my Boyfriend, 10 People Said They Wanted to Kill Me”

February 12, 2015 1:15 am

Here’s a new post I just found on Washington Post that was written by Nigerian gay activist about what it means to be a gay Nigerian, using his own life experiences.

At my 40th birthday party last month, my boyfriend and I shared a kiss.
Like any couple would, we posted a photo of the moment on Instagram. 

In hours, the image had gone viral in Nigeria. It was republished on
scores of Web sites and blogs, with headlines like Nigerian Gay Activist
Bisi Alimi French Kisses Boyfriend On His 40th Birthday and Gay Bisi
Alimi Shares Photo Of Himself & Boyfriend Deeply Kissing. 

By morning, I’d received more than 10 death threats on Facebook and dozens more
hateful Tweets.

On Facebook, people posted messages like “D day u enter dis country,
I’ll kill u myself … fool!!!” Someone else wrote that my “death warrant
has been signed.” 

I’m used to these threats. I’m a former actor, and I was the first
Nigerian to come out publicly on national television in 2004. This
admission hurt my show. And it made me the victim of three years of
assault, arrest and joblessness. 

The vitriol culminated in 2007, when an assailant broke into my house.
He tied me up, beat me and tortured me for more than two hours. Two days
later, I moved to London. Since then, I’ve never been home. 

I know I’m lucky to be alive. And the climate in Nigeria has only
worsened since I left. While gay sex has been illegal since British
colonial rule, convictions were usually confined to the mostly Muslim
north. But in January 2014, President Goodluck Jonathan signed a law
that mandates up to 14 years in jail  for same-sex marriages, showing
same-sex affection in public, and being part of or supporting gay clubs
and organizations. 

There were dozens of arrests in early 2014. Immediately after the
signing of the law, 14 gay men were attacked in Abuja by a pastor who
wanted to cleanse his community of “the evil of Sodom and Gomorrah.” A
few weeks later, three men suspected of being gay were paraded naked on
the street of Owerri, Nigeria. Some Nigerian civilians have even turned
to mob justice to arrest gay people. Last year, a video of two gay men
being forced to have sex by people who broke into their house went
viral. 

Even as I was grappling with the new threats in my flat in London,
broke of Sharia police in Northern Nigeria arresting 12 men on suspicion
of homosexuality. The men were accused of planning a gay wedding. The
police commander said their sexuality was confirmed by “the way they act
and talk.” The police officers, like many others, think they can deduce
a person’s sexuality based on their mannerisms. 

On January 21st, a popular Nigerian gay blog (which is run anonymously)
ran a story about Nigerian police trying to track, trap, and arrest and
extort money from suspected homosexuals.

Of course, Nigeria is not the only country where it is dangerous to be
gay. Homosexuality is currently illegal in 38 out of 54 countries in
Africa. Too often, death is the fate of visible African LGBT champions
like me. Gay rights activist David Kato from Uganda was killed in
January 2011. In June 2012, Thapelo Makutle, a South African
transgender, gay man was killed. Nineteen months ago, Eric Ohena
Lembembe, the leading Cameroonian LGBT activist, was tortured and
killed. 

Today, Nigeria is largely in the international news because of Boko
Haram. But the ongoing, state-approved violence against LGBT people
speaks to deeper social problems, including human rights violations and a
rise in HIV infections  among a closeted and fearful LGBT population. 

In the face of these everyday atrocities, there is silence from the
international community. While a handful of countries have condemned the
law, they have done little else. Unlike Uganda, which relies ​on
foreign aid, Nigeria is self-sustaining. This makes Western influence on
its increasing abuse of human rights tough. After the United States
accused the Nigerian military of corruption and human rights abuses in
its campaign against Boko Haram, for example, Nigeria began looking for
military assistance elsewhere. 

But these are not reasons enough for international inaction. The
international community should be at the forefront of pressuring the
government to respect the fundamental human rights of every Nigerian.
Otherwise, thousands of innocent Nigerians will continue to face the
fear of being accused of being homosexual and jailed … or being lynched.

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