A couple of months ago, Uganda asked a question that could usher in the systematic hate aimed at a group of people. The question was simple: Who is going to inspire the senseless murder of gender-variant people in Africa?
This was not a view that needed to be vocalised by Ugandans, but many nations responded. Nigeria is the latest. The Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, which provides penalties of up to 14 years imprisonment for gay marriage and a maximum of 10 years for membership or encouragement of gay clubs, societies and LGBTI organisations, was last week signed into law by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan.
Since then, nearly 40 people have been arrested and many more threatened with violence.
History provides many examples of same-sex practices such as the “boy-wives” of the Azande in contemporary Sudan and Congo, the gender-crossing queers of the Hausa Bori culture in … wait for it … modern-day Nigeria! Lesbian relations were also prominent among co-wives in polygamous marriages in 19th century Southern Sudan — the same polygamous practice frowned upon by the western world — which leads me to an unsurprising fact. Colonialism imposed this prejudice and other divisive ideals on a number of non-western societies.Same-gender sexuality and relationships, as well as polyamorous relationships, are nothing new.
The issue in countries such as Uganda, Malawi and Nigeria isn’t a “gay issue”, it’s a human-rights issue.
We must stand up for the rights of ALL.