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Dear friend, I’m going to prison. Protest rally against Nigeria’s Anti-LGBT Law.

8 Feb


Dear friend,

I’m just writing to say goodbye.

I’m going to prison,

for 14 years,

for being gay

and Nigerian.

And if you associate with me, or don’t report me, whether you are straight, gay or bisexual, you face 10 years too…

This is what millions of Nigerians are facing today, since President Goodluck Jonathan signed the anti-same sex bill and took colonial homophobic laws to another low level.

Come and stand with us.

And or spread the word.

Freedom to love for all.

Thank you,





Protest rally against Nigeria’s Anti-LGBT Law.

Love Not Hate!


Date-    Thursday 20 February, 2014

Time-    3:00pm-6:00pm

Venue- Nigeria House, 9 Northumberland Avenue, London WC2N 5BX

Theme- Love Not Hate

Nigerian LGBTIs in Diaspora Against Anti Same Sex Laws will hold a rally on Thursday, 20th February, 2014 outside Nigerian High Commission, London, to protest the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act signed into law by President Goodluck Jonathan.

We will come together to say No to this atrocious law and its blatant violation of our human rights.  We will also deliver a protest letter to the Nigerian High Commissioner.

In the spirit of Love that February is famous for, we shall host a kissing spree outside the embassy as we say Yes to Love and No to Hate. Nigerian LGBTIs and allies will hold hands, hug and kiss outside the embassy.

Join us, invite friends and LGBTI allies to kiss Sodomy laws and other anti same-sex laws goodbye. International solidarity knows no borders.

Join us in solidarity. Love Not Hate!

Event link on website-
Event Link on Facebook-
Nigerian LGBTI In Diaspora Against Anti-Same Laws. Protest Londo 023

Protest rally against Nigeria’s Anti-LGBT Law: Love Not Hate!

29 Jan


Protest rally against Nigeria’s Anti-LGBT Law.

Love Not Hate!

Date-    Thursday 20 February, 2014

Time-    3:00pm-6:00pm

Venue- Nigeria House, 9 Northumberland Avenue, London WC2N 5BX

Theme- Love Not Hate

Nigerian LGBTIs in Diaspora Against Anti Same Sex Laws will hold a rally on Thursday, 20th February, 2014 outside Nigerian High Commission, London, to protest the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act signed into law by President Goodluck Jonathan.

We will come together to say No to this atrocious law and its blatant violation of our human rights.  We will also deliver a protest letter to the Nigerian High Commissioner.

In the spirit of Love that February is famous for, we shall host a kissing spree outside the embassy as we say Yes to Love and No to Hate. Nigerian LGBTIs and allies will hold hands, hug and kiss outside the embassy.

Join us, invite friends and LGBTI allies to kiss Sodomy laws and other anti same-sex laws goodbye. International solidarity knows no borders.

Join us in solidarity. Love Not Hate!

Venue Map link

You can also link to our event on Facebook.

Contacts-  Yemisi Ilesanmi –

Davis Mac-Iyalla –



Open Letter To Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)

28 Jan

27 January, 2014

Open Letter To Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)


Dear Dr. Chidi Odinkalu,

It is with deep concern that I write this open letter to you to register my dismay at the continued silence of your office on the recently signed Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act. It is surprising that as Chairperson of the Governing body of National Human Rights Commission, a lawyer and a human right activist of note, you have not deemed it fit to issue a public statement weeks after a section of Nigerian populace was criminalized and stripped of their fundamental human rights via a stroke of President Goodluck Jonathan‘s pen. The most you have said in your official capacity, albeit in private, is that you are still studying the new law.

 Dr Chidi Odinkalu, how long would it take your office to study this legislation? The content of the law has been known to you and most Nigerians since 2011 when the bill was first approved by the Senate. The harmonized version of the bill that was signed did not change much. In your official capacity, you must have received a copy of the Act as it is part of your official duty to advise the President on the human rights implication of bills tabled before him.

 As a lawyer and a human right activist of note, you cannot claim to be unaware of the human rights violations inherent in this new legislation. Therefore, I wonder how you could turn a blind eye to such blatant violation of fundamental human rights. Is this about protecting your appointment as Chairperson of National Human Rights Commission? I hasten to remind you, comrade, that in the course of your human right activism, you actively opposed human rights violations by draconian military regimes. As a dedicated human right activist, you campaigned and fought for Freedom of Expression, Freedom of Association, Freedom from Torture and Freedom from Discrimination. Whatever happened to that passion and commitment to justice?

 No doubt your reputation as a human right activist was a major contributing factor to your appointment as the Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission. What happened to these noble ideals? Why have you decided to keep quiet in the face of such blatant injustice perpetrated against Nigerian lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals (LGBT)? Is it because Nigerian Lesbian, Gays, Bisexuals and Transsexuals are a minority? Don’t minorities deserve to have their constitutional and fundamental human rights protected against the tyranny of the majority? Is it that you cannot afford to get on the wrong side of the President and lawmakers for the sake of ‘unimportant’ sexual minorities? Are we not worth defending because you value keeping your job more than performing the duty your job demands?

 I sincerely hope that the above are not the reasons for your silence but every second of your continued silence on this important subject matter diminishes any hope of a progressive response from the National Human Rights Commission.

 Dr. Chidi Odinkalu, I am a Nigerian bisexual woman, lawyer, human rights activist and a former National student union leader who has now been forced into exile by this draconian law.  Some of us, as affected and concerned Nigerian LGBTs, have discussed the implications of this draconian bill with you at meetings which you preferred to be kept private. We are not illegal. As bonafide citizens of Nigeria, we are part of the constituents your office is supposed to protect and defend.

 From the discussions with you on the then proposed bill, I appreciate that you understand the human rights violations inherent in the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act. As a human right activist and lawyer, you personally expressed your frustration at such a bill. However, as Chairperson of the Governing body of National Human Rights Commission, you have kept mute on this serious matter. I do understand your predicament but in all honesty, I do not think it is such a predicament. Your role and duty as Chairman of the National human right commission is clear enough. I, as a Nigerian citizen expect that you would defend my human rights no matter whose ox is gored. It is a duty you accepted and a job you are paid to do, with tax payers’ money, if I might add.

 The Nigerian Human Rights Commission is the largest human rights commission in the world. It has the largest numbers of board and staff members. One must then wonder why this big entity has not really been able to pull its weight.  Nigeria is a haven of human right violations, yet we have the biggest national human rights commission in the world. Big for nothing entities seem to be the bane of Nigerian society.

 I suspect you have enough staff members to dissect the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act. However since it is taking so long to look at the bill from your end, below is a cursory summary of the new legislation’s blatant violations of human rights and how it contradicts the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

 1-      Title of the bill– First and foremost, you and I know that the name of the bill is just a mere camouflage. The implication and contents of the bill stretches far beyond Same Sex Marriage or Civil Union. And to crown it all, Section 7 of the bill made it clear that:

“same sex marriage” means the coming together of persons of the same sex with the purpose of living together as husband  and wife or for other purposes of same sexual relationship”

 Please note “…or for other purposes of same sexual relationship”

It further stated that civil union means “any arrangement between persons of the same sex to live together as sex partners”

Therefore, every time the word “Same Sex Marriage” or “Civil Union” appears in the Act, it refers not just to marriage but also any same sex, caring, emotional and/or sexual relationship with or without marriage.

 2-      Sections 1-3 of the bill prohibit same sex marriage and civil unions. Dr. Chidi Odinkalu, you are likely familiar with the horrors Nigerian lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals face on a daily basis, even before the signing of this draconian bill into an oppressive law. Nigerian LGBT community has never demanded for the right to marry, the most we have done is try not to be stoned to death or lynched on the streets of Lagos, Abuja, Imo, Sokoto or Kaduna. Nigerian LGBTs have been trying desperately to keep their sexual orientation private not because they are ashamed but because they understand that the ignorance and hate in the highly homophobic Nigerian society could lead to the lost of livelihood, stigmatization and isolation. If they flaunt their same sex love life, they stand the risk of paying with their lives.

 It is therefore surprising that amidst all the problems bedeviling Nigeria including but not limited to corruption, poor healthcare, unstable power supply, bad roads, high unemployment rate, lack of security and lack of any significant economic growth, Nigerian Lawmakers decided to waste tax payers’ money to dream up this bill and actually gave the law such a mischievous title. What a useless and time wasting venture!

 However, let us be clear on this, the right to found a family is a fundamental human right and if and when Nigerian LGBTs feel they want to challenge the restriction on their right to marry, they have every right to do so. I maintain that every Nigerian deserves the same right every other Nigerian enjoys. If an adult heterosexual Nigerian enjoys the right to marry an adult of opposite sex, so must an adult homosexual, bisexual or  transsexual Nigerian also have the right to marry their adult same sex partner,  if they so wish. Denying LGBTs this right is a direct stigmatization and criminalization of their sexual orientation.

 It is obvious from the provided interpretation in the Act that what the law prohibits is not just marriage but any same sex adult relationship, whether they are in a marriage or not. According to the new legislation, if they are in a caring, emotional and/or sexual relationship, they have fallen foul of section1-3 of this law and therefore face a 14 year imprisonment. Dr. Chidi Odinkalu, how could this blatant violation and discrimination be overlooked by your office?

 3-      Section 4(1) of the Act states-“The Registration of gay clubs, societies and organisations, their sustenance, processions and meetings is prohibited.” Dr. Chidi Odinkalu, this is a blatant violation of basic tenets of democracy including the much cherished Freedom of Association, Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Thought and Conscience. This part of the Act not only criminalized Nigerian gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals, it also criminalizes every Nigerian. I am aghast that any self-respecting Nigerian human right activist would overlook such blatant human right violation.

 As human rights activists, during the draconian military regime, we fought hard to kick the military out of power and usher in a democracy. As human rights activists, we condemned the military for its clampdown on Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Association. So, why are we now allowing these violations under a democracy we fought so hard to get? Why compromise this democracy for which many of us inhaled teargas, were dragged into detention centers, imprisoned and even lost some of our cherished comrades? Why are we giving away our hard fought for Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Association?

 Dr. Chidi Odinkalu, it is pertinent to draw your attention and that of other Nigerian human rights activists to the fact that this new law can be used against anyone including human right activists, political organizations or just about anyone who opposes the government in power.  Human rights and political meetings could be invaded under a trumped up charge of ‘promoting LGBT rights’. Activists could find themselves facing a 10 year imprisonment just for organizing meetings to oppose government policies. This bill even goes as far as criminalizing freedom of thought and conscience! Why is this not causing outrage within the human rights community and your office as Chairperson of National Human Rights Commission? 

 4-      Section 4 (2) of the ACT States- “The public show of same sex amorous relationship directly or indirectly is prohibited.” This directly criminalizes homosexuality and bisexuality.  Dr. Chidi Odinakalu, as a lawyer and Chairperson of National Human Rights Commission, you are no doubt aware that Nigeria’s constitution frowns against discrimination.

 5-      Section 5 makes it an offense to register organizations that advocates for LGBT rights. How could banning Freedom of Association, Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Thought be legal? Chairperson, what is your honorable office doing to challenge this blatant discrimination?

 6-      Section 5(3) of the Act criminalizes anyone who witnesses, aids or abets a same sex marriage. It is important to bear in mind that ‘Same Sex Marriage’ is interpreted in the Act as including “same sex adult independent relationships”, “caring, same sex relationships”, “stable unions” etc. This means anyone who witnesses, aids or abets homosexual relationship without reporting it to the appropriate authority faces 10 years imprisonment. By this interpretation:

  • A father or mother has the duty to report their homosexual/bisexual son or daughter to security or face 10 years imprisonment.
  • Any doctor who treats patients who are engaged in same sex relationship faces 10 years imprisonment.
  • Landlords who rent their properties to same sex couples face 10 years imprisonment.
  • Employers who do not report homosexuals in their employment are guilty of aiding and abetting and could face up to 10 years imprisonment
  • Friends and work colleagues, who aid and abet homosexuals, face 10 years imprisonment.

How much more outrageous could this get? Families now turn against each other, landlords now have the perfect excuse to maltreat tenants and unscrupulous people have more excuses to blackmail vulnerable, innocent people. Is this the African family value we are so proud of?

Nigeria is a country known for its lack of security and blatant abuse of human rights.  This law has given an express legal permission to hunt down innocent citizens. Already, there are reports of people victimized, arrested, blackmailed, lashed in public and charged to court since the new law was signed. It is not only gays, lesbians and bisexuals that would fall victims of this horrific law, every Nigerian is a potential victim.

7-       Section 5(3)  goes further to criminalize and stipulates a 10 year imprisonment for “A person or group of persons who … supports the  operation and sustenance of gay clubs, societies, organisations”

Dr. Chidi Odinkalu, as you are most likely aware, LGBT organizations get their sustenance (funding) from national and international organizations that promote sexual health and the prevention of HIV/AIDS. National Agency for the control of AIDS (NACA) gets funds from international Aids organizations like UNAIDS, UNFPA, WHO, Oxfam international, Family Health International (FHI) and ActionAid. Parts of these funds are meant to be used to sustain Nigerian LGBT organizations that work on AIDS prevention amongst men who sleep with men (MSM).

Going by this section of the law, organizations like NACA, USAID and UNAIDS face a ban in Nigeria if they continue to provide sustenance to LGBT organizations that works with men who have sex with men (MSM). The obvious implication of this section of the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act is that MSM who are HIV positive or have AIDS can no longer access healthcare in Nigeria. This would no doubt have a negative effect on tackling the problem of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria.

Why is National Human Rights Commission silent in the face of this horrendous human right violation? Denying anyone access to lifesaving medication and accessible healthcare is draconian, inhumane and should be thoroughly condemned by every decent human being.  More so, as chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission, you have a duty to not only condemn this malady, but also legally challenge it.

8-      Section 6 of this Act states that: “The High Court of a State or of the Federal Capital Territory shall have jurisdiction to entertain matters arising from the breach of the provisions of this Act.” Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission has the same jurisdiction has the High court. You are the Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission and the Commission has jurisdiction to decide on this Act. You have the largest staff of any Human rights commission in the world, so what excuse could there be for the deafening silence and inaction?

The Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act contradicts fundamental human rights under Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution, international and regional human rights law and standards. For example:

Section 42 of the 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria prohibits discrimination against any person on the basis of sex or membership of a group.

Section 34 guarantees the right to the dignity of the human person. It states- “Every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person, and accordingly no person shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment”

The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights– This regional law which Nigeria is a signatory to, affirms the equality of all people. Article 2 of the law states: “Every individual shall be entitled to the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms recognized and guaranteed in the present Charter without distinction of any kind such as race, ethnic group, color, sex, language, religion, political or any other opinion, national and social origin, fortune, birth or other status.”

Article 26 of the law prescribes that “Every individual shall have the duty to respect and consider his fellow beings without discrimination, and to maintain relations aimed at promoting, safeguarding and reinforcing mutual respect and tolerance.”

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) – Article 2 and 26 affirm the equality of all people before the law and the right to Freedom from discrimination. Articles 18 and 19 protect the rights to Freedom of Expression and Conscience. Also Articles 21 and 22 protect Freedom of Assembly and Freedom of Association.

United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders– Article 5 of this declaration affirms that: “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels: a) to meet or assemble peacefully b) to form, join and participate in non-governmental organizations, associations or groups.”

 Article 7 also states that “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to develop and discuss new human rights ideas and principles and to advocate their acceptance.”

Dr. Chidi Odinkalu, I besiege you to understand that silence in the face of oppression is acquiescence to oppression. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” As committed defenders of human rights, we must remember that an injury to one is an injury to all.

I am aware that some Nigerians in support of the law usually argue that: DSC_0951

  • Homosexuality is unnatural
  • Even animals don’t engage in homosexuality
  • Homosexuality is not part of our culture
  • Homosexuality is a slippery slope to rape, pedophilia or bestiality.
  • Homosexuality will lead to dearth in population   
  • Homosexuality is a sin.

Dr. Chidi Odinkalu, as an educated person, you would appreciate that in this age of information, ignorance is nothing to be proud of.  One of the duties of National Human Rights Commission is to provide avenues for public enlightenment, research and dialogue in order to raise awareness on human rights issues. I hope you can use your office to educate Nigerians about the basic facts.

1-      The very first thing we need to understand is that homosexuality, bisexuality, asexuality are all as natural as heterosexuality. Our sexual orientation differs; we are born with an innate ability to be emotionally/sexually attracted to same sex or opposite sex.  Or in the case of asexuals, not be sexually attracted to same sex or opposite sex.

2-      Research has shown that Homosexuality is not unnatural as more than 1,500 animal species engage in same sex relationships. There is nothing unnatural about this very natural act.

3-      Sexual orientation is a biological fact and not a matter of culture.  Some people are born gay just as some are born left handed. Homosexuality is not a disease or an abnormality. Since sexual orientation is part of every human biological makeup, Homosexuality alongside Heterosexuality, Bisexuality and Asexuality has been in existence from time immemorial.  Africa is the home of humankind; therefore it suffices to conclude that homosexuality originated from Africa. Homosexuality is not Un-African.

Even if homosexuality was (is) considered taboo in some parts of African societies, we should understand that many things were considered taboo that are now accepted behavior and norms.  In Calabar, our forefathers killed twins because they thought twins were evil. In many parts of Africa, it was considered a taboo for women to inherit land. Also, female genital mutilation was celebrated as part of our culture.  However, due to information and progress, these practices have been outlawed.

Culture or ‘Taboo’ is not a reason to deprive any human being of their fundamental human rights.  Discrimination in the name of culture or under the cover of ‘Taboo’ is barbaric, ignorant, bigoted and inhuman.

4-      Homosexuality is not a slippery slope to rape, pedophilia or bestiality. There is no justifiable reason to compare a violent, non consensual act that inflicts harm on its victim to consensual same-sex adult relationships. Rape is the act of forcing someone into having sex without consent; it is a sexual assault, in most cases a violent act. Pedophilia is the act of having sexual intercourse with a child, an underage cannot give consent. Bestiality is the practice of sex between humans and non-human animals; it is inter-species, also animals cannot give consent. Same sex relationships on the other hand are emotional, sexual relationships between consenting adults of the same-sex.

A homosexual or bisexual who is attracted to same sex does not cause harm to anyone or the society. Same sex lovers do not harm anyone with their relationship so far it is consensual adult relationship. Non-harmful lifestyle of adults should not be criminalized. Criminalizing a person for their sexual orientation is basically the same as criminalizing a person for their skin colour, sex, or for being left-handed.

5-      The world has a growing 7 billion human population, the human race will not suddenly go extinct just because Homosexuals are not criminalized or because same sex adults are allowed to marry. Not all marriages are entered into for the purpose of procreation. Some couples are content to marry just for love and companionship. The fact that my parents gave birth to me does not mean I owe the world a responsibility to also give birth to a child. There are many unwanted, unplanned for children abandoned by heterosexuals in orphanages and on the streets looking for a loving home. Surely, same sex couples who open their hearts and homes to unwanted children should be celebrated not criminalized.   

6-      For those who claim that homosexuality is a sin, please understand that ‘Sin’ is a religious concept. Religion is a personal matter and not every Nigerian is religious. Kindly understand that the Bible, Quran or whatever religious DSC_0956book we subscribe to is not the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Nigeria is a secular democracy. Religious believers, even when in position of authority, should not make laws or policies for Nigerians based on their personal religious beliefs. Quoting bible or Islamic verses to impose laws on all Nigerians is a blatant imposition of personal religious beliefs on others. BTW, speaking of things that are Un-African, Christianity and Islam are Un-African. These religions are foreign imports. While no one is advocating that we prohibit these ‘Un-African’ foreign religions, we should understand that Freedom of religion includes Freedom to be free from religion.

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Amendment Act, signed into law on 26 February 2011, confers on the Commission the power to investigate human rights violations. It also made the NHRC independent so that it can work without fear or favour to improve human rights situation in Nigeria. Unless supporters of this appalling law can prove that lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals are not human beings, there is no justifiable reason to deny us our fundamental human rights. LGBT rights are Human rights. Dr. Chidi Odinkalu, as Chairperson of National Human Rights Commission, it is your duty to condemn and legally challenge this atrocious law. Please speak out against this injustice, kindly act now!

Yours Sincerely,

Yemisi Ilesanmi



Nigerian LGBTIs in Diaspora Proudly OUT at London Pride, 2013.

2 Jul

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Nigerian LGBTIs in Diaspora Against Anti Same-Sex Laws marched at London pride second time running this year to celebrate love in all its diversity and also create awareness on the plight of LGBTs in Nigeria. It was great and the support from the crowd was wonderful.

It was an opportunity to give a face and a voice to the many voiceless and faceless Nigerian LGBTs living in fear in Nigeria.  The ‘Jail the Gays’ bill passed by the Lawmakers in Nigeria stipulates a 14 year jail term for LGBTs and 10 years imprisonment for advocates of LGBT rights. The draconian bill is waiting for the assent of the President

People came to us during the march to inquire how they could support us. Many are eager to help but just don’t know how. I believe every voice counts.  With access to internet and various social networks, the world is fast becoming a global village. We can create awareness, raise the issue, blog about it and put pressure on our governments to take a progressive stand on LGBT rights in their international relations. Also support local lgbt organizations.  Every little helps, every voice counts.

Please join us in saying NO to this bill. Sign and share our petition:

Proudly Out and Saying NO to HATE!

Proudly Out and Saying NO to HATE!



We are family; Hate is not an African Family Value!

We are family; Hate is not an African Family Value!

Together We Can!

Together We Can!

We say NO to Nigeria's Jail the Gays bill

We say NO to Nigeria’s Jail the Gays bill



Standing up for Equal rights

Standing up for Equal rights

Proudly OUT smiles at Pride!

Proudly OUT smiles at Pride!

OUT for Equality!

OUT for Equality!

London streets OUT for Pride!

London streets OUT for Pride!

Celebrating beauty in all its Diversity!

Celebrating beauty in all its Diversity!

The sweet taste and face of Freedom, Hurray to our Ugandan comrades!

The sweet taste and face of Freedom, Hurray to our Ugandan comrades!




Ugandan LGBTs Proudly Represented at Pride!

Ugandan LGBTs Proudly Represented at Pride!


OUT for Equality!

OUT for Equality!

Google proudly supporting LGBT Rights!

Google proudly supporting LGBT Rights!

The Beauty, The Diversity, The Pride!

The Beauty, The Diversity, The Pride!

Donate to our advocacy calendar project and claim one of our perks!

18 Feb

For every calendar sold a heart hears and a mind is changed. Join us in the fight against Nigeria’s ‘JAIL THE GAYS’ bill.

You can also get a copy of the calendar through our perks offers! When you donate –

£10- You get an electronic copy of your choice picture in the calendar sent to your email address.

£25- You get a choice of either a copy of a Wall Calendar or a Desktop Calendar sent to your preferred address.

£40- You get a copy of wall calendar AND a copy of Desktop calendar sent to your preferred address.

£50- You get a Wall Calendar AND a Desktop Calendar sent to your preferred address AND an electronic calendar pic of your choice sent to your email address.

PLUS, you get to give a gift of love and change hearts! Thanks!

To donate,  please visit-

Kindly Support Nigerian LGBTIs in Diaspora’s Advocacy Calendar Project on Indiegogo.

9 Feb

Nigerian LGBTI In Diaspora Against Anti-Same Laws. Protest Londo 002

Campaign Project link on Indiegogo-

The Background

Nigeria’s Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition bill criminalizing same sex marriage and stipulating 14 years imprisonment for anyone who engages in same-sex relationships was unanimously passed by Senators. It has passed through the second reading in the Nigerian House of Representatives. The House Speaker has referred the bill to the Committee of the Whole House for final consideration. The homophobic bill is being packaged as a gift to Nigerians.

Our Advocacy Calendar Project

Nigerian LGBTIs in Diaspora Against Anti Same sex laws has packaged a gift of love to our lawmakers to counter their homophobic gift of hate. We have an advocacy Wall Calendar and Desktop Calendar gift for Nigerian lawmakers.  We want you to help us donate this gift of equality and love to Nigerian President, all the 469 members of Nigerian National Assembly, the 36 State Governors and as many Nigerian ambassadors as possible.

Nigerian lawmakers are fond of saying there are no gay Nigerians and they won’t hesitate to send same sex lovers to jail. With this project, we have put a face on Nigerian LGBTs and also given a voice to Nigerian LGBTs to pass across our message. We are saying… Enough is Enough, No to ‘Jail the Gays’ bill. We exist, we are Nigerians, we are gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transsexuals, intersex, queers and we are proud. Stop the discrimination, stop trying to send us to jail for our sexual orientation.

The wall calendars and desk top calendars show pictures of our protest rallies outside Nigerian embassies in London and New York. The calendar also has a special message for each month, creating awareness on the negative effect of the ‘Jail the Gays’ bill and bringing attention to how it violates Nigerian constitution and the many international treaties Nigeria has ratified.

Our Target

Our target is to print 600 wall calendars and 400 desk top calendars. a total of 1,000 calendars. With your invaluable support, we can reach our target and even exceed it. Help us donate a gift of love, packed full with important advocacy message, today.

We will publicly present the calendars to our lawmakers in Nigeria at an organized sensitization event with good media coverage. We shall also hold press conferences in Nigeria to entertain questions and give out copies of the calendars to lucky Nigerians including members of the media.

The Impact

This is the third time a Bill prohibiting same sex marriage is introduced by the Nigerian parliament. The proposed law is titled ”Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill, 2011”,  however, it goes well beyond the title to criminalize every Nigerian person(s), individual and group who may be suspected of any trace, exhibition, association and/or characteristic of same sex relationship, friendship, association or gesture.

LGBT rights are Human Rights. Fundamental Human Rights of sexual minorities are violated daily because of criminalization of same sex relationship and societal prejudice. The homophobic bill violates fundamental human rights that are guaranteed under the Nigerian constitution and various human rights regional and international laws and agreements that Nigeria has ratified.

Also, the bill would lead to political and social harassment of people for their actual or imputed sexual orientation. It would also stifle freedom of expression and association through the proposed ban on organizations that support Lesbians and gay rights.

Every Nigerian deserves the same right as every other Nigerian, irrespective of class, sex, race, gender identity or sexual orientation. Consensual adults do not deserve to have their love criminalized.

Other Ways You Can Help.

We need financial support and goodwill to print the calendars and publicly distribute this gift in Nigeria.

You can also help by sharing our message with your friends and LGBT allies. Make some noise about our Advocacy Calendar project; blog about it, share on facebook, twitter and other social networks.

You can also use the Indiegogo share tools to share our project with the world! Thank you.


‘Our Senators are Hypocrites’

25 Nov

‘Our Senators are Hypocrites’

  Bisexual Nigerian Lawyer, Yemisi Ilesanmi
Yemisi Ilesanmi describes herself as ‘proudly bisexual’. After gaining her LL.B from the Obafemi Awolowo University in 2004 (four years after she should have qualified and 10 years after she was initially admitted as a student), she was admitted to the Nigerian Bar in 2005. Asked about the time gap, she chuckles in recollection, ‘Well I had some issues with the university authorities’. Pressed further she says, ‘Weeell, we ‘kidnapped the then Vice-Chancellor, Professor Omole! We had only dirty, brown water coming out of our taps in the halls of residence and we were expected to drink that?!’ her voice rising an octave. ‘Well, we thought we should just give him a dose of his own medicine so we “took” him to spend quality time with us!’
If by now it has not been clear that the interviewer is speaking with a non-conformist, it is now.

Ilesanmi worked with the Nigeria Labour Congress in Abuja from 2002 until recently. Aged 36, she holds a Masters of Law Degree from the University of Keele, UK in Gender, Sexuality and Human Rights. Now resident in the United Kingdom, this trade unionist, human rights activist and poet sent in a position paper to the Senate hearing last October on the anti-same sex marriage bill. She was however unable to come down to Nigeria to make her presentation personally but says she now plans to do so for the House of Representatives public hearing.

The coordinator of the campaign group Nigerian LGBTI in Diaspora Against Anti-Same Sex Laws, she has travelled extensively as guest speaker to promote gender and youth issues, labour rights, sexuality rights and international human rights.

She spoke with FUNKE ABOYADE last Thursday via telephone, online, as well as her blogspot…

My Bisexuality Isn’t a Terminal Disease!
The second child in a family of seven (six girls and a boy), Yemisi was born in Lagos to what she describes as ‘a normal middle class family’. By her late 20s she’d come to the realisation that she was bisexual.

Asked how she assimilated this, she said, ‘I never really had to call a family meeting and announce my sexuality. There was no coming out episode for me; I mean I do not consider my sexuality a terminal disease that I needed to call a family meeting on, like announcing I have got AIDS or Cancer!
‘My family is aware I’m a vocal advocate for LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transsexual) rights. I had been an advocate, even before I finally acknowledged my own bisexuality’.
Their reaction in any event? ‘Mixed’, she says, ‘but they are not homophobic and it’s basically a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell policy’ .
However when she finally meets the person on who, in her own words, she will bestow the honour of spending the rest of her life with, she certainly won’t hesitate to introduce him or her to her family, ‘no matter the gender’.
Hiding Their Real Identity

On the challenges that come with being LGBT in Nigeria, Yemisi says, ‘It is indeed difficult living as a person with a different sexual orientation in a country like Nigeria; people who are attracted to same sex or transgender are often abused, treated with cruelty and sometimes molested to death. Transgender are so misunderstood that they are mostly treated like criminals; people believe they hide their real identity so as to defraud unsuspecting individuals’.

She points out that ‘many lesbians, bisexuals and gays often marry the opposite sex just to keep their family members happy and take away suspicion from the ever vigilant community. However they often carry out same sex relationships under the guise of friendship.
‘It’s like an unwritten survival code within the LGBT community in Nigeria.  I was once affected by this when I was in a serious same sex relationship in Nigeria. We were live-in lovers; when her family suspected her sexual orientation, they started putting her under pressure to marry. She was so miserable she suggested we arrange for a man to perform her traditional marriage to keep the pressure off, but I wouldn’t play along.
‘She eventually had to marry a man and I lost her and now she has to cope with an unhappy marriage. It was a very heartbreaking experience. I was mad at her, mad at the society! I felt so alone, even our LGBT friends thought I should have played along and not tried to rock the boat by expecting too much. However, I believe we are all responsible for our own happiness and for me, being open about my sexuality is essential for my happiness.
Did her classmates at Primary or Secondary School or at the University suspect her sexual inclination?
‘I was not sexually active in my primary and secondary school years. In my university days, people often speculated on my sexuality. I was called a lesbian when I founded the National Association of Nigerian Female Students (NANFS) in 1998 and I had not even started dating women then!
The God Factor…
Yemisi also describes herself as ‘proudly atheist’. How and why did she become an atheist, her family being Christian? Was this to do with her sexual orientation? Did Christianity reject her or she found it too harsh or unforgiving?

‘The million Dollar question! I really get peeved when asked this question especially when it comes with that disbelieving look and exclamation, “You mean you really don’t believe there is God?!”  Not forgetting that very annoying question “what happened to make you not believe in God?” Why do people always assume that something terrible must have happened for one to have lost “faith” or not have faith at all?

‘Well, the good news is: there was no big bang that left me gasping for faith. It just happened that I am not convinced there is a “God” designing our planets, dishing out destinies, taking care of our needs, waiting for us to ask so s/he/it shall give, busy keeping scores on our good and bad deeds. I don’t believe there is an omnipotent, omniscience, all knowing being watching from high above – and why not from down below anyway? I guess we don’t like the idea of stepping on God!‘Anyway, it is my humble opinion that man not only created God but did so in his own image. There are as many gods as there are people, communities and religions. People tend to create the god that suits them and their particular situation consciously or unconsciously.
‘It’s no big deal about exercising our imagination but it becomes a big deal when you judge others based on your own particular god beliefs or force your imagination down the throat of others! It is unfortunate that many believers influence state policies based on personal religious beliefs. It is a great injustice to those who do not share those religious beliefs either because they believe in another “God” and have a different set of doctrines.‘I do not believe in the existence of a “God”. I do not need a religion to feel high, low, solemn, guilty, moral, immoral, good, bad, favoured or blessed. I do not have a soul crying to be saved. I just wish everyone would appreciate that this is really no big deal! Just Another Lifestyle Choice or Innate?

Is sexual orientation an alternative lifestyle choice? Are LGBTs actually born that way? Or is this a descent into decadence?

‘It is sad that sexual orientation is not a topic of research taught in Nigerian schools; in fact sex education is hardly a comfortable topic in schools and a taboo topic in many Nigerian homes.

‘Sexual orientation is something we are all born with. Many researchers, doctors, psychologists and scientists have done enough research on the topic and have come to the conclusion backed by indisputable evidence that sexual orientation is not a choice, it is not a disease, it is not a disorder but just like skin colour, left handedness, eye colour, we are born with our sexual orientation’ she insists.
That Bill by the Senate…

Her view therefore is that the bill passed by the Nigerian Senate last week punishes people for what is essentially not their making.
‘It’s like punishing a black person for being black, punishing a left-handed child because he or she cannot write with the right hand or punishing a baby girl for being born a girl. This is unfair and inhuman!’

Speaking as a lawyer she says, ‘the bill contradicts fundamental human rights under the Nigeria Constitution, as well as international and regional human rights law and standards.
‘S. 42 of the Nigerian Constitution prohibits discrimination against any person on the basis of sex or membership of a group. Also, Section 34 guarantees the right to the dignity of the human person
‘Article 2 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights affirms the equality of all people. Article 26 prescribes that “Every individual shall have the duty to respect and consider his fellow beings without discrimination, and to maintain relations aimed at promoting, safeguarding and reinforcing mutual respect and tolerance.”
She also lists the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the
United Nation’s Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

And her reaction to the bill as an LGBT?

‘For the many heterosexuals reading this, spare a minute to ask yourself what your reaction would be if you were told that you cannot hold hands with your lover; You cannot marry the love of your life;  You will lose your job if you declare that you have an opposite sex partner; You cannot form an organisation to support a man and woman relationship or marriage; Your landlord can evict you if you are suspected of having a relationship with an adult; You can be freely stoned to death if you have sex with your opposite sex partner.

 ‘Now tell me you will not raise hell, scream human rights violations and call on the West to free you from shackles of dictators! Tell me these are NOT fundamental violations of your rights, then maybe I will consider keeping quiet about my right to life, freedom of expression, right to found a family and respect of my human dignity.
‘I want my right to have consensual adult sex with whomever I wish , same sex or not, I want my right to marry and found a family, I want my right to human respect and dignity, I want my right not to be discriminated against or stoned because of who I love, I want my right to life respected! Is that too much to ask?’
‘Actually, right now I’m more worried about the stigmatisation and harassment the few activists who went to the public hearing to oppose the bill are currently facing in the Nigerian press, from their families and friends’.
She alleges the persecution is mainly from the religious groups who threw abuse at LGBT rallies inside the National Assembly and threatened to beat up them up.
Yemisi describes as hypocrites ‘Senators who kept referring to the Bible and never mentioned the Constitution, as if the Bible has now replaced the Nigerian Constitution.
‘Senator Yerima who actually imported the 14 year old daughter of his gardener from Egypt for marriage stood up at the Senate House last Tuesday to demand that consensual adult same sex relationship be criminalised and he was cheered especially by another Senator who stood up to say homosexuality is the same as paedophilia amidst loud applause. What a simpleton! Did he miss the one sitting next to him? I have never been so ashamed to be a Nigerian!
And her reaction to the bill as a Nigerian?
‘Criminalising same sex relationships makes us refugees; it turns us into asylum seekers in other countries. This also affects our beloved country as emigration causes brain drain.
‘Many talented Nigerians are living in Diaspora openly as gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transsexuals. We contribute positively to the development of our country of residence but we are afraid to come live and contribute to the development of our motherland because of fear of victimisation. We visit home with trepidation because at home we have to live a life full of lies and deny who we are for us to be accepted.  Why do we want to keep subjecting our citizens to such psychological and emotional torture?
‘Some Nigerian Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transsexuals and Intersex living in Diaspora are married to same sex partners or planning to do so.  Section 1(3) of this bill states that a valid same sex marriage entered into abroad would not be valid in Nigeria. This is unfair.
‘We as Nigerian LGBTIs living in Diaspora do not want to be isolated from our family members and childhood friends. Many of us grew up in Nigeria and are happy to call Nigeria our motherland. However, because of the misconception surrounding our sexual orientation, and the criminalisation of thereof, we are estranged from our loved ones. Families have been broken, friendship links cut off and hate fostered – all because of ignorance and misunderstanding.
‘LGBTIs are normal people and are an integral part of any society. We are your family members, neighbours, community members, Church members, Mosque members, leaders of your religious affiliations and yes, Honourable members and Senators of the National assembly. Be careful who you hate because it could be someone you love!’
Sexual repression, she insists, breeds marital infidelity.
‘Many lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transsexual and intersex live in the closet. They live double lives, pretending to be heterosexual at home and at work while slowly dying inside and meeting in the dark with same sex partners to have a minute of peace with their real self. This double life is dangerous and unfair to all concerned and the society at large’.
Having indicated she may marry a man or woman, if she does marry a woman does she realise that if she comes back home she will be jailed, if the bill has been passed into law by the House of Reps and assented to by the President?
‘Why should I be criminalised for marrying another consenting adult? It is simply not rational and violates my rights. Such a law should be opposed by everyone who believes in equal rights for all. When we are neutral in situations of injustice, we have taken the side of the oppressors.
‘The fact that you are not affected by this law should not be a reason to remain silent. Today they are coming for the homosexuals, tomorrow they might be coming for you, who will be left to fight for your rights? I will continue to demand my full rights as a bonafide citizen of Nigeria.
‘Love is worth fighting for, human rights are worth dying for! Most arguments people use against homosexuality today are the same arguments white supremacists used to justify slavery, racism, sexism and to oppose inter racial marriage’.
Wife or Husband?
If she does marry a woman, would she be her wife or husband?

‘Why is it so difficult to have a relationship not premeditated on gender roles? Even when in a same sex relationship, I am often asked the annoying question “who is the husband or wife?” Must relationship be based on husband/wife dichotomy which often means gender stereotypes?  I do not think so!

‘I want to be myself in any relationship and expect my partner to be himself or herself. I do not want roles, I just want to be me. I do not want to be a husband or a wife; I just want to be a loving partner. My ex hated that word “partner”, she felt it was too businesslike, but well, I want an emotional/physical partnership, and for a partnership you sure need a partner!
‘It is so difficult sometimes to get this message across. The society has already conditioned us to believe in gender roles. A man believes he is the head of the family and his relationships, he takes it for granted that his female lover is at his service. Unless the woman asserts herself by discussing and redefining the “normal” rules, the default rules prevail.  It is annoying how some self identified “progressive men” act as if they deserve a pat on the back for conceding that women have equal rights in a relationship!
Coming Out…

Having come out as a bisexual in Nigeria long before she left what were the challenges she faced and the reactions from family, friends and colleagues?

‘I only left Nigeria two years ago, but I frequently visit my motherland. I have not relocated abroad, just taking a little time off abroad to recoup the huge foreign currency I spent on getting my Masters degree abroad, before coming back to settle for Naira!
‘Coming out is a very personal decision, one that only the person involved should make. I understand the difficulties associated with coming out in a country where homosexuality is a criminal offense and can lead to social and political ostracisation and even death. However, I believe that we should try as much as possible to be who we are, accept our orientation – and not the way we accept a terminal illness.
Did her work as a trade unionist encourage her boldness in living true to herself?
 ‘I was a student union activist in my undergraduate years, during the military era in Nigeria. I had many collisions on policy issues with school administrators who were appointed by the ruling military dictators. It took me ten years to finish a five year law degree course due to suspension, strikes, arrests, et cetera. However, I’m happy that I was able to stand up for my rights and that of many Nigerians; it might not be the easy way but it helped mould my character.
‘The Labour movement in Nigeria has always been progressive and often works with student unions at allies. Because of my active role in student unionism and human rights organisations in Nigeria I was co-opted to start working for the Nigeria Labour Congress even before I finally got my law degree. I could have gone ahead to practice law in Nigeria, but the trade union gave me a real opportunity to represent the masses.
‘I am open about my sexual orientation in my workplace, of course I encounter homophobic people but they know better than to mess with me! However, I wish trade unions in Nigeria and Africa would start treating sexual orientation as a workplace issue, many LGBT workers stand the risk of losing their jobs if they are outed. I try my best to make sure this issue is put on the trade union agenda. I raise it at every opportunity.
‘I believe trade unions are sitting on the fence because they are not forced to make a decision; however I believe many progressive trade unions would support rights of workers not to be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation. This is simply the logical thing to do. It might not be a popular cause, but human rights causes are not fought based on popularity but based on justice. Trade unions and human rights organisations should always be on the side of justice’.

Her reaction to the view that it is against the natural order of things for same sex gender to be sexually involved as they cannot naturally procreate, and that if everybody were Gay or Lesbian, populations would gradually die off?

‘There are 7 billion plus human beings on planet earth and some are still afraid that homosexuality will stop procreation? Really, this is ridiculous! Not surprising though because Senator Victor Lar in his defence of the draconian homophobic bill said, “If Nigerians allow same sex marriage, there will be no one to take over our senatorial seats, no more procreation.” Is the whole world going to turn gay just because homosexuality is legal?
‘Many argue that same sex relationship is unnatural because a man cannot get pregnant, but let’s think about this: Is marriage or sexual relationship only acceptable for the sole purpose of procreation? Should a heterosexual infertile person not be allowed to marry? Should we stop old people who are in their menopausal age from getting married? What about fertile opposite sex partners who out of choice decide not to have children? Should we make it illegal for them to marry or have sexual relationship?
‘Not all relationships or marriages are entered into for the purpose of procreation. With advanced technological development in reproductive health, adoption, surrogacy, IVF are only some of many options available to same sex couples. If a same sex couple decided to not add to the dangerously growing 7 billion human population of planet earth, or/and decides to adopt a child instead of biologically making one,  that would be thoughtful, highly commendable and Eco-friendly.

‘If anyone chooses to donate sperm, or be a surrogate mother to any same sex couple, why should the State or any individual seek to stop them from doing so? You should examine deeply the prejudice in your statement; it smacks of paternalism and of course violates rights of consenting adults. And why should children who could have been given a loving home be left in an orphanage when there are loving couples willing to adopt them and provide a loving home for the kids? Should the welfare of the children not matter simply because of intolerance of same sex adult relationships? You can’t redefine family to be two daddies, two mummies? Why should gender be the determining factor and not love?’
Good for the Goose, Good for the Gander…

Her reaction to those who say what consenting adults do behind closed doors is their business but LGBTs should not flaunt their sexual orientation or be in their face? Or that they should remain in the closet?

‘For those who say “Our sexual orientation is supposed to be a private affair“, is your heterosexual relationship a private one? Is a man scared to take a woman into a beer parlour, hold her hand in public, afraid to introduce her to your family, afraid to say in public that you have a relationship with a woman? Do you not take it for granted that it is OK for you to be in love with a woman, flaunt your love for her in public, introduce her to your family and friends and even marry her in an elaborate public celebration of your love and commitment? Why do you think lesbians and gays are supposed to hide their own love and live a hypocritical life?’

Proudly African…
On the prevailing view that homosexuality offends Nigerian cultural and social mores?
‘Homosexuality has existed from time immemorial, as far back as when same sex persons ever came in contact. Africa is said to be the cradle of human race, it therefore logically follows that homosexuality started in Africa, before the human race started migrating to other places to spread its branches in different colours, shapes and sizes.  Many African cultures and religions viewed Homosexuals and Transgender as gods, they were revered before intolerant religion and culture started flourishing. It was the advent of colonisation and the importation of foreign laws like Sodomy laws that brought Homophobia and intolerance into African societies.

‘Many Africans became intolerant of homosexuality and transsexuals only after foreign religions were imposed on them. In many African cultures, homosexuals and transsexuals were revered and worshipped as spirits of the gods. Sango, the god of thunder was often described as a beautiful man who dressed and accessorised and had his hair braided like a woman. Sango priests, all men, dress in women apparels when performing traditional rituals. Now tell me that is un-African!
‘I am Proudly African and I am mystified whenever I am accused of “promoting and defending European sexual perversity” (whatever that means). In fact from various historical paintings on Ancient Africans walls, our ancestors enjoyed homosexual sex, affection and love and that was one reason Christian missionary colonisers immediately imported their sodomy laws into our constitutions; they imported homophobia because they thought our free loving ancestors were barbarians!
‘Many claim Homosexuality is Alien to Africa. I am an African, I am bisexual, I was bisexual before I ever met any white person or stepped foot on European shore, so does that mean I am a fake African?’
Does she think there’s some hypocrisy involved in the way Nigerians view LGBT issues?

‘The National Assembly of the corrupt and inefficient government of Nigeria is looking for a cause that will give it popular majority sympathy, a scapegoat! Please do not use my same sex love to garner support for your “Straight” Mass orgy of corruption!

‘Also, Nigerian Lawmakers obviously do not know that those who live in glass houses should not throw stones; they could have not just their children but also their own sorry hypocrite behinds in prison! Many of them are closet gays, lesbians and bisexuals and love throwing gay parties in the privacy of their mansions with ill gotten wealth they stole from the Nigerian Treasury!
‘You were involved in a protest outside the Nigerian High Commission in London two weeks ago. What was that about?’  I ask her

‘Nigerian LGBTIs in Diaspora Against Anti Same Sex Laws on Tuesday 15 Nov, 2011 staged a protest rally at the Nigerian House to protest the Anti same-sex marriage bill’

‘We urged Nigerians to repent of their homophobia and demanded that the Senators stop peeping into citizens bedrooms and instead take seriously the important task of moving Nigeria’s economy forward’.

Proudly Feminist, Proudly Bisexual, Proudly Atheist.


Atheism with a conscience

Nigerian LGBTI in Diaspora Against Anti Same Sex Laws

Nigerian Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual and Inter sex( LGBTI) in Diaspora Against Anti Same sex Law is an independent campaign group to protest the Anti Same Sex Marriage bill presently before the Nigerian lawmakers and to demand for the repeal of all existing Anti same sex laws in Nigeria. We believe in equal love and equal rights for all. Decriminalise all homophobic laws because LGBTI Rights are Human Rights.

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