Nigerian LGBT rights activist Davis Mac-Iyalla, currently in the United Kingdom, is working hard to persuade other Nigerians of the wrongheadedness of the “Jail the Gays Bill,” which the Nigerian Senate has passed and asked Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan to sign.
But depressingly widespread support for that bill was apparent in the silence and hostility that greeted Mac-Iyalla’s remarks earlier this month at a meeting for Nigerians in London. In these excerpts from Changing Attitude, Mac-Iyalla describes the scene at the Conversations for a New Nigeria’s public debate on constitutional reform:
When it was time for questions I raised my hand to ask the first question. I introduced myself and said that I am attending the forum wearing many hats. I am first and foremost a Nigerian, student, a human rights defender, gay and a public health advocate for black men, founder of Changing Attitude Nigeria, and a member LGBT Nigerians in the Diaspora Against Anti Same-Sex Marriage Laws . By the time I finished introducing myself the expression of people’s faces had changed.
I asked the honourable ladies why it’s so important for them to pass the Nigeria anti-same-sex marriage bill, knowing full well that we have inherited a law from our colonial masters which criminalizes homosexuality. I talked of how the bill was first introduced to parliament in 2006 and was renewed in 2009 and 2011 when the Senate passed it and forwarded it to the House of Representatives, where it has received two readings and might be passed to the president to be signed into law.
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