News / Africa

    Nigerian Activists Fear New Wave of Homophobia

    Before they destroy a building in Abuja, Nigeria, authorities mark the building with a red 'X' and write a few words.
    Before they destroy a building in Abuja, Nigeria, authorities mark the building with a red 'X' and write a few words.
    Heather Murdock
    Nigerian activists say anti-gay legislation passed this year has sparked mob violence, blackmail, homelessness and joblessness among gays across the country.  The legislation is somewhat different than the anti-homosexuality law adopted this week in Uganda, but activists say the suffering in their country is the same.

    Off the main road in the chaotic urban village, a dirt path leads to a single-room home where advocates of gay rights meet behind a closed metal door. 

    No one in this neighborhood knows who they are or what they do.

    The men described a raid in their neighborhood, where gay men were beaten and forced to leave their homes. 

    “They were going from each gay man’s house.  Room to room.  House to house.  When they get to your room, they don’t knock.  What they do is they demolish the door if it’s not strong, they bring down the walls of the house.  They bring everything down is what they do,” said a victim.

    “Did they do that to your place?”

    “They did that, yes!  My door was iron just like this.  So when you get to my house you will only see marks of the objects that they used.  They were like, ‘Come outside!  Come outside homosexual people.  Bastard!’ and everything,” he said.

    Nearby police did nothing to stop the mob, he said, and those that were not beaten fled their homes, leaving everything behind.  Two weeks later, one man said, he was still wearing the same clothes he had on when he left.

    “Everybody ran into the bush.  One of my neighbors from the community - a gay man - he had to escape through the toilet window.  He had to escape through the toilet window,” said another victim.

    Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed new anti-gay legislation on January 13.

    Activists said the most nefarious element of the law was that it banned gay organizations or the "aiding and abetting’" of homosexuality, potentially turning formerly tolerant landlords, neighbors and employers of gay people into criminals.

    Uganda’s new law similarly bans the “promotion” of homosexuality.

    Nigerian activists said the new law has not been actively enforced by authorities, but in the past month, many gay Nigerians have been evicted from their homes, fired from their jobs and blackmailed.

    Kelechi, who does not want his full name used for security reasons, is the executive director of the Initiative for Improved Male Health in Nigeria.

    “There have been recorded cases of violence in the community, like I just made mention of blackmailing," he said. "Sometimes I’ve been in the office where someone sent to me a threat message that if I don’t pay a certain amount of money I’ll be ‘outed’ as a gay man.”

    He said roughly 17 percent of gay men in Nigeria were HIV positive and many were now afraid of seeking help from aid organizations. 

    “It’s really effected HIV programming for LGBT persons because everybody feels if you take any service there’s an avenue for you to be outed and you can be arrested as well,” said Kelechi.

    The World Bank Friday postponed a $90 million loan to Uganda intended to improve health services, in reaction to the new law and leaders from the U.S. and Europe have been vocal in their critique of both anti-gay laws, calling them ‘atrocious’ and ‘draconian.’

    But in Nigeria, locals, lawmakers and religious leaders - both Christian and Muslim - have hailed the law, saying it reflects African culture and Nigeria’s religious identity. 

    At the gleaming national church in Abuja, near the equally-impressive national mosque, Pastor Simon A.S. Dolly, the president of the Youth Wing of the Christian Association of Nigeria, said the international community should not interfere with African anti-gay laws.

    “It’s better to obey God than to obey man.  And we are not really afraid of any threat because it is our country.  We have sovereignty as a nation and we have the right to have a law," said Dolly.

    He did not anticipate international aid being withdrawn from Nigeria.  But, he said, if it was withdrawn, it was a better fate than suffering the wrath of God for allowing sin in Nigeria.

    You May Like

    Russian-speaking Muslim Exiles Fear Possible Russia-Turkey Thaw

    Exiled from Russia as Islamic radicals and extremists, thousands found asylum in Turkey

    US Presidential Election Ends at Conventions for Territorial Citizens

    Citizens of US territories like Guam or Puerto Rico enjoy participation in US political process but are denied right to vote for president

    UN Syria Envoy: 'Devil Is in the Details' of Russian Aleppo Proposal

    UN uncertain about the possible humanitarian impact of Russian proposal to establish escape corridors in Aleppo

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: F Young
    March 01, 2014 6:27 PM
    Most of the persons harmed by anti-homosexual laws are actually heterosexuals, who are beaten, fired, evicted and arrested by mistake. Students are also bullied by mistake. Most Africans don't know a single homosexual; so, anti-gay mobs end up persecuting heterosexuals because they can't tell the difference.

    While most cases involve an honest mistake, in a few cases unscrupulous people knowingly attempt to ruin their rivals by falsely accusing them of homosexuality, Some pastors in Uganda have been convicted of falsely accusing a popular priest of being homosexual. Similarly, in some countries, politicians have falsely accused their opponent so as to destroy his reputation.

    by: Kat from: Canada
    March 01, 2014 10:27 AM
    This is nauseating. Seriously, this reminds me of kindergarten, when people got beat up for not liking Hot Wheels or Barbies. Why can't we all just grow up?

    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    March 01, 2014 10:11 AM
    So part of being homosexual is also to be good liar? These people seem to prove their abnormality in various ways, including fabricating lies that even a baby can easily decode. Or should it rather be expected being not properly balanced in hormonal equilibrium. The so-called keleshi wanted to create a pathetic story, but he failed to tie a few loose ends to make it click. I have been in Nigeria ever since, both before and after the bill was passed into law, neither have I seen one gay person on a Nigerian street, in an office, market, or anywhere nor seen one treated or maltreated. No doubt they exist, but Nigeria is a decent country that notwithstanding world-wide spread of immorality, Nigerians have a reservation. Sex is also respected in this country, so that story is a mockery, a caricature, a misrepresentation of the true situation. When most Nigerians do not know that they exist, how could they be beating and rendering them homeless? It's another fraudster in the making if not already made, a 419er looking for cheap aid, visa to go abroad. VOA should stop publishing such cheap lies in the bid to identify with homosexuality. Even non-homos will feign to be, in order to attract and defraud gullible foreigners of funds. However, my advice is, for those who know they are homosexual and afraid to open up in their local communities, apply directly at the US, British, Swedish and Norwegian embassies for free visas to leave the country. As for the threat of aid stoppage: who needs them? We rather need forensic investigation into alleged fraudulent loans and debts that incapacitated most African countries since the early 70s until recently reprieved and let us know who owes who. Again is that Europe has very serious compensation to pay African countries devastated through slavery in the decades gone by. Add to that is that Africa is being wooed by more prosperous, sincere wealthier suitors that makes aids from Europe and America look like AIDS. And says it's not! Unfortunately our hope to counter-colonize Europe and America has failed woefully because our own son through whom we intended to achieve it became badly contaminated, indoctrinate and brainwashed to be more anti-African than the whites. All in all, everything here now - the wrong sentiments, the self pity, desire for sympathy, and the need to counter-colonize - all is a failed project.

    by: Ebele D Stanley from: Lira - uganda
    March 01, 2014 9:44 AM
    Am happier with the Nigeria's Anti-Homosexuality Bill because it prohibits "aiding and abetting" ( of) homosexuality, Uganda's is a little wanting in the sense that its too selective and too specific.
    Refer to “promotion” of homosexuality thereby prohibited and punishable, so you journalist, I mean the author, am a journalist as well, your writing is unacceptable in Uganda or Nigeria's practices or standards as per the legislation or you face the charges of "aiding and or abetting Homosexuality’' - an illegal practice as per our legislation. The same story in Uganda. We are serious about homosexuality just as anyway America or the World would be on terrorism. Don't use the media to influence us otherwise let us do an objective reporting or should you in your otherwise bent mind, then be counted among the very most nonobjective journalists as can be is for nudity in Uganda and Africa.

    by: Bisalla from: USA
    February 28, 2014 1:35 PM
    As always, I am completely in support of countries that have laws against gays. The reason is because I strongly feel these people (gay) are perverts and wl influence young children negatively. If gays do not believe in God the creayor, the rest of us do. As a christian the Holy Bible teaches God's command of pro~creation to multiply and fill the earth. Even if they are not christians nature prooves so. Satan is fully at work in countries that propagate his agenda.

    by: jacibra from: kenya
    February 28, 2014 12:51 PM
    Let the west keep their inducement to deliberate sin promotion. Their so-called aids are to lure Africans to do what they want? No! Please keep your money!!!!!!!!!!!

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora