Statement on the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia 2016

Today, lesbians, gays, bisexuals and trans people stand in uniformity all over the world calling for the elimination of homophobia and transphobia. However, placing this in context also points to celebrating bodies, blessed bodies, especially of Nigerians who identity as lesbians, gays, bisexuals and trans people. As an organization working to advocate for the human rights of this populations, we stand in affirmation of the right over our bodies and condemn homophobia and transphobia as an ugliness, that derides people of their human dignity and criminalize them for who they love or are attracted to.

Nigeria as a nation continues to uphold laws that criminalize and make possible violence against its citizens on the grounds of perceived or real sexual orientation and gender identity. These laws are expounded in Section 214 to 217 of the Criminal Code, Section 130 – 133 of the Sharia Penal Code and most recently the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act 2013.  As citizens of our beloved country, we unequivocally state that these laws are archaic, draconian, stigmatizing and an entry for violence on our lives. In fact our lived realities as lesbians, gays, bisexuals and trans people are shaped by these legal provisions and as part of the labour force of the nation, we can no longer accept the criminalization of our bodies. Laws or legal provisions conflicting with the constitutional protection of the fundamental human rights of all citizens needs be reformed in light of the current science of human sexuality. Culture, tradition and religions are no grounds for the continued persecution and criminalization of LGBT people. And we categorically state that homosexuality is no crime. We are not criminals and refuse the stigmatizing label attached to our lives.

As an organization and individuals, we also use today to call out to religious leaders, pointing out the wrongness of homophobia and transphobia and condemning sermons that continue to afflict us as human beings, created by one God. These sermons are traumatic and do not reflect the salvation to which we have all been called.  As religious leaders, we call out for the use of your religious powers and offices in the pursuit of human dignity, showing that we are all indeed created in the one image of God.

Parents and friends of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and trans people also need to understand that sexuality is not chosen by free will. It is an inherent part of a human being, shaped by both nature and nurture. We call out to parents to show acceptance and love to their children who are lesbians, gays, bisexual and trans people, supporting them to lead their lives in a way that reflects integrity of who they really are.

In closing, we strongly express that love is not a political matter, neither is it a cultural or traditional issue. It is a basic human need and human right. Thus, we proclaim our bodies as blessed, sanctified, whole and holy.

 

Rashidi  Williams

Organizational Director, Queer Alliance Nigeria

 

 
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