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Wobia Akani: On gay rights, I’m sticking with the national assembly


Wobia Akani: On gay rights, I’m sticking with the national assembly

by Wobia Akani

If we argue that sexual orientation is inborn and therefore gay people do not necessarily choose their orientation, can we also argue that the quest for acquisition of material things is also inborn and thus legitimize stealing and conversion?

It took me a while to decide on what my debut piece for The Scoop would be, but I finally settled for the racy subject of the policy surrounding sexual orientation at this time. Coming on the heels of a recent publication by the BBC on secret gay clubs and the emphatic re-statement by the Senate President, David Mark that the Anti-Gay Marriage law is here to stay, I could not help but take a plunge.

I must state clearly that Nigerians do not hate gay people. We honestly don’t even care what your sexual orientation is, as long as it’s not assaulting our sensibilities. We do not desire to see a display of heterosexual or homosexual copulation on our streets. We are a highly moral people (when it suits us) and we do not accept gross indecency. As long as we do not see what you do, we do not care.

Why do I say this? Prior to the push for gay/homosexual alliances to be legally recognised by means of marriage and civil partnerships, there was and still is a provision of the Criminal Code Act 1990 (precisely as contained in Chapter 21 of the Act) prohibiting and criminalising sexual relations against the order of nature as well as gross indecency.

This law dates back to 1916 and has remained in our laws, albeit lying largely unused not for a want of circumstances under which they could have been put in effect, but because like the calm, unreactive people we once were, who lived in perpetual denial, we would rather turn a blind eye to whatever activities do not directly affect us, or would bring us under public scrutiny. God forbid that we should be tale bearers and whistle blowers! After all, the average Nigerian is his brother’s keeper and does value his privacy, right?

Well, if only our gay brethren had let it be, they would probably still be going about their business unnoticed and unobserved.

But somewhere in the Western world, the idea of equal rights for gay people began to metamorphose into a big grey ball ready to explode all across the world. And like all things Western, an attempt was made to bequeath the legacy to us. However, the piece of the ball that fell into Nigeria seems to have had quite the opposite effect. Rather than accept it like everything handed down to us, the Nigerian sense of culture and morality was stirred and keenly awakened.

For once, we realised that it is against everything our culture stands for such that even the threats of loss of financial aid from the United Kingdom, United States of America and donor agencies has not been enough to cow us into towing that line.

But you see, it’s a rights issue and the free thinking human rights activists would not let it be. The National Assembly has taken a lot of knocks from the rights activists on this issue.

First, on the question of equity of rights, I am not aware of any laws which are discriminatory against any group of people based on sexual orientation. I also am not aware that there is a right to marry, right to have sex etc. These ‘rights’ as it were are subsumed in the right to freedom of association, and the right to private and family life.

If we argue that a gay person’s rights to freedom of association, and privacy and family life are being limited by the provisions of the Criminal Code Act which is in force, or will be limited by the Anti-Gay Marriage Bill which is currently going through legislation, be reminded that there are no absolute rights. Even the right to life which is deemed sacrosanct is subject to restriction and derogation as stated in the proviso to Section 45 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and one of such grounds for derogation is on the basis of public morality. The laws in force are a reflection of what the society to which it applies say it wants or does not want.

Before you throw stones at the National Assembly for enacting the Anti-Gay Marriage Bill, ponder on these:

If we argue that sexual orientation is inborn and therefore gay people do not necessarily choose their orientation, can we also argue that the quest for acquisition of material things is also inborn and thus legitimize stealing and conversion?

Does the fact that a few people toe a parallel line mean we should normalise an anomaly?

Gay people are products of heterosexual unions, so why do they want to have children if they are averse to the kind of unions that produce children?

How do you explain to a child why he/she has two dads or two mums, and is lacking either parent?

Who does he call mum, and who does he call dad?

Well, until homosexual partners can impregnate themselves without scientific aid, I’m sticking with the National Assembly.

Dear free thinker, should we legitimise same sex marriages, shall we also legitimise bestial unions? We might as well go the whole nine yards considering that individuals are engaging in sexual activities with snakes, dogs, goats and horses. Is there a church, mosque, court or any licensed place of worship that will wed them? How does the animal sign the marriage register? It all borders on human rights – the right to freedom of association and the right to private and family life, yes? In the event that we wed them, shall we also let them adopt children? Would you give up your child for adoption to be parented by a goat?

What about the objectum sexualists? I await your reaction when your car is the object of someone’s sexual fantasy. Would you stand as a witness to give out your table in marriage to its human lover? Oh, to hear a priest say the words, ‘You may now kiss your chair’! Hilarious and laughable as it sounds, objectum sexuality and bestiality are probably as rife as homosexuality and such individuals could also very well make a case on the premises of rights.

There’s something instinctive about sexuality. Even without knowing about the existent laws, people who engaged in gay sex always hid it. It simply means that somewhere deep down, inborn or not, you wonder if it’s normal. Well, the laws have been in existence, and new laws are in the making. If you choose to flout them in secrecy, please let your activities remain secret. What the eyes do not see, the mouth does not speak about.

After all, we are still our brother’s keepers, yes?

Wobia Akani writes for The Scoop. Her golden rule is that "the fear of the phyllum reptilia is the beginning of wisdom". This happily chubby, skilled daydreamer and adept bibliophile loves the law... but believes that 'it does need a revolution.' Warning: You could go insane by getting in her head.

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