Since the passing of the 2011 Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill (SSMB) by the Nigerian senate, hundreds of online and twitter comments have been made in support of the bill. By far the majority of these comments have defended the bill on the basis that it only concerns marriage between two people identifying as the same sex; and that as a national law it stands outside international treaties to which Nigeria is a signature. As I have pointed out elsewhere, this is a deceit by the supporters of the bill in both houses as same-sex relationships are already criminalised and so, obviously, marriage between persons of the same sex must also already be criminalised.
The two questions we should be asking are: "what is the real purpose of this bill" apart from to whip up moral hysteria against a largely invisible portion of Nigerians and "how will it impact on everyone irrespective of their sexual orientation?"
In addition to targeting people who identify as lesbians, gays, bisexual, transgender or gender non-conforming, the SSMB will:
The SSMB will particularly affect the poor unemployed and those on low incomes and will also compromise and restrict other rights such as:
Nigerians advocating the bill need to ask themselves whether they really wish to live in a society in which millions of people live in fear of being outed, where millions are denied legal representation as well as the rights to assemble, speak freely, embrace their friends, and share a room with a friend without fear of prosecution.
The rationale behind the Same Sex Marriage Bill and its proposed counterpart in Uganda is a huge deceit being spread by secular and religious leaders that decriminalising LGBTI persons would be an imposition from Western imperialists and signal moral decadence. On the contrary, these legislations are part of a continuity of Western imperialism and the 'European heterosexual inheritance' that was forced on colonial subjects - it is a mark of our continued colonial dependency.
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