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Gay Marriage In Nigeria: To Be Or Not To Be

The issue of same-sex marriages has for some time now been a topic of discourse especially in Nigeria, as such practice is not allowed in the country. The argument had been so strong in couple of years past until it was formally passed into law in 2013 prohibiting such practice in the country.

Nigeria recognizes neither same-sex marriages nor civil unions for same-sex couples. Homosexuality can land men up to 14 years in prison in Southern Nigeria and capital punishment for men in areas under Sharia Islamic Law.

10 years have been prescribed for anybody convicted of aiding and abetting the contraction of same sex marriage in Nigeria and also nullifies certificate of same sex marriage contracted outside the shores of Nigeria.

Additionally, the act kicked against the operation of gay clubs in Nigeria with a punishment of 10 years jail term without option of fine for anybody guilty of operating gay clubs within the country.

Homosexuality is illegal in most African nations based on remnants of sodomy laws introduced during the British colonial era and perpetuated by cultural beliefs. Punishments across the continent range from fines to years in prison. People having knowledge about the union could also be imprisoned for a maximum of 10 years.

One thing to put into consideration is that Gay unions have always existed. It’s only in the recent past that people started paying attention to gay marriages in Nigeria. This was being fanned by the proposed Anti-Gay Bill (which is now Law) and activist groups. In fact, statistics put that 1 out of 5 Nigerians has in one way or another been involved with the same-sex.

This system has always been seen as a Western Idea and opponents to the gay marriage in Nigeria believe that this practice is a Western ideology. They view it as an erosion of African culture which prohibits same-sex marriages. The influence is largely fueled by the influence of western culture through daily interaction and also the media.

Another thing to look out for is that there has never been gay marriage except for mere allegations and we need to ask this question, “What is gay marriage?” This is the first question that might be asked by many Nigerians. Truth of the matter is that there has never been any recorded gay marriage in Nigeria. Since time immemorial, gayism and lesbianism have always been ridiculed. Therefore, the people involved rarely go public about it.

It is pertinent to know that Gay Marriages can never end because some countries around the world have chosen to legalize it and many are already practicing, while some are planning to legalize it. Hence, people are watching to see a safe haven where they can pitch their tent to continue the practice for fear of being arrested or killed.

People against gay and lesbian unions breathed a sigh of relief when the bill was passed. Nevertheless, just like in many other regions, quite a number of Nigerians know that the marriages can never end. Religion and culture has always been the main driver against this act. Notwithstanding, people are moving away from religion and culture.

Just as these said existing gay guys in Nigeria are yet to be caught in the act, allegations still has it that many Gay couples in Nigeria are Bi-sexual. People engaging in same-sex unions may also be in a straight-marriage setting. Many are fathers/mothers who have children. This has always been the norm hence trying to draw the line between the two completely-opposite unions is quite a task. Some do this as a cover-up while others discover their inclinations while in a straight-marriage.

There is unequal condemnation about gay relationships in public. Lesbianism is more acceptable than gayism. Two ladies walking hand-in-hand or displaying affection in public may be overlooked. However, for two men to even share a brotherly hug, the people around will drop what they were doing just to witness such an event. This probably explains why the number of men engaging in the activity is perceived to be less than that of women.

The Anti-Gay Law came at a time when other countries were warming up to the idea of seeing gays and lesbians getting married legally. France, the US, and also South Africa had done it. Well, on paper the unions are prohibited in Nigeria. However, the unions still exist but in utmost secrecy.

Excerpt from #3 Youth Shades, November 2016


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