Sunday, June 2, 2013

To Politicians Policing Sexuality: Get Off that Lane

The House of Representatives in Nigeria recently passed a bill outlawing homosexuality, making homosexual acts punishable by a 14-year prison term. Furthermore, gay clubs and organisations supporting gay rights will be banned.

I’m not sure why they thought passing such a bill at this point in time was of utmost importance, especially since there are so many other pressing issues that need their immediate attention. I guess it’s easier for them to work on irrelevant, non-issues than on real ones, like ensuring quality healthcare and stable power supply for all Nigerians.

Threatening homosexuals with jail term or throwing them into prisons isn't going to scare them straight. If anything, it’s only going to put more pressure on the already overcrowded prison facilities, with the rest going on to marry unknowing heterosexuals, only to surprise their partners some years down the line with their sexuality. True story: it happened to Terry McMillan, author of the novel, How Stella Got Her Groove Back. I’m pretty sure no one wants to be in her shoes.

Politicians make it sound like being gay is a choice. Well, it isn't, at least that’s my belief, because if it were people wouldn't willingly endure harassment and discrimination for the sake of it. Some Christians are quick to quote biblical passages condemning homosexuality, saying that God can’t possibly condone it.

Granted, the Holy book does condemn it, but there are so many other deeds the Bible also condemns - deeds like tattooing one’s body and shaving one’s side burns that most people nowadays find acceptable. Therefore, it would be too dangerous to take the Bible literally since we can’t say for certain what is sanctioned by God and what is sanctioned by man.

If the Nigerian government insists on taking the moral high ground, then it should abolish bribery and corruption, because, unlike homosexuality that affects no one, bribery and corruption is the bane of every Nigerian. In a country where half the population lives on less than a dollar a day, it's incumbent on the government to focus on alleviating poverty instead of focusing on red herrings, like what Tom and Jerry, or Thelma and Louis, may be up to when the lights are out.

Update: Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, signed the bill criminalizing homosexuality into law early January, 2014. Marriage certificates recognized elsewhere by same-sex couples will be considered null and void in Nigeria.