Sunday, 17 April 2016

OUR FATHER: AN OPEN LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA


Dear President Muhammadu Buhari,
It is never out of place for children to approach their father, to run into his embrace when the fire breaks out. We strongly believe that it is extremely appropriate to approach you at this critical time . 
We are grateful that the pressures and place of your office avails the Nigerian people so much. That you have become our president at a time like this is a blessing, thorough, solid and available.
We, the people, bring this topic within your sphere. In 2014, we killed a young Nigerian boy in Jos. We permitted his neighbours to break into his home to dehumanise him because he is homosexual. In 2015, we raped a girl in Lagos because she is lesbian- as if rape cures anything. In 2016, Ondo State, a gentle man lost his life equally to homophobia.
Continuously, we have thrown our brothers and sisters to the dogs and they cannot help themselves (by reporting to the law enforcement agents) because even when they do, they do not(they are arrested for being of bringing the violation against themselves.) Since Nigeria began,  we have seen such homophobic violations being justified. However, when the government enacted the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act 2013(the Act), the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer (and Questioning) Intersex Asexual(and Allies which includes families, medical and paramedical experts, legal and para-legal experts, journalists, writers, teachers, leaders researchers….) community(the community), (human beings like everyone else) have been denied jobs, dismissed from their workplaces, evicted from  their homes, disowned and brutally dishonoured. In as much this could happen to any Nigerian, the community bears the worst and a greater threat at increased severity.
The Act amongst other things makes it impossible for us, native and visiting Nigerians, to acquire fundamental services including access to medical treatment, safe, private and secured existence. The Act denies us all the protection that the Constitution and your leadership afford every Nigerian citizen. This is simply because of the majority are bothered by our independent, private, mutual attractions and inclinations within our private space. Our private lives no toll on the independent safety, rights  and happiness of other individuals. However, democracy is not rule by most of the people but all of the people.
It has been argued that community’s existence is against Nigeria’s religious and cultural backgrounds. But, our father, our country is a secular one that embraces all believes that conform to our survival and stability. Moreover, we are not strangers to what religious extremists have been known to do, inflict on others and become. Regarding our culture, the community which in one way or the other involves everyone in the country. We are diverse and dynamic people sworn under the constitution to embrace and protect all kinds of diversity that does not threaten our common wellbeing. As the rest of the Nigerian population, persons with different sexual orientation and identity are proud of their country and the diversity of our culture and way of life. It is our sincere belief that our diversity is our beauty and that our diversity is the foundation of our security. It is also our strong conviction that, if there is anything that threatens our security and survival, it is intolerance and disrespect to our diverse way of life. How does loving safely and privately threaten anyone? How does meeting voluntarily, quietly and harmlessly, hurt anyone? How do voluntary sexual activities behind locked doors and even public displays of affections of any kind threaten our national security or morality?
Furthermore, it is apparent that any comparism between our existence and paedophilia or bestiality is undesirable and unfounded. The community strongly holds that voluntary consent to engage and co-existence is the very foundation of inter-personal relationship. It is also obvious that consent cannot be gotten from legal minorities (below 18), mentally unstable individuals and animals. However, what can we say about seeking the consent of a mother who does not and cannot decide whether or not she shall birth a homosexual, transgender or heterosexual child? Some things are not ours to determine. Inshallah, we shall all soon be able to tell them apart.
As you read this, the community is being unjustly crushed even after we have been driven out of our churches, homes, mosques, offices, schools and lives as we know it. we are forced into the darkness of danger and rejection, especially when we are not living double and dangerous lives like yet our invisible members are. Regardless, two years under the Act has left us an inevitably frightened existence to struggle with- some being utterly destroyed in the process. This is far cry from everything that your great leadership promised and now stands for.
Attached to this letter is a human rights report submitted at the Centre for Human Rights here in Pretoria, South Africa in February 2016 on the situation of human rights in Nigeria. It is dangerous, what has been recorded in Nigeria.
We have been to the courts, to the social media, to God and now we have come to you. We need your great government to intercept the out-play of this self-nourishing tyranny against the community that has gushes out of the Criminal and Penal Codes and the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act 2013, as it is inhumane and challenges our cultural heritage, diversity as a people. Democracy has no business ignoring the minorities after all- if we truly can be called that. As a democratic leader who came into power through the love and full support of citizens, including the LGBTI parsons, there will never be anything more pressing and essential than repealing this particular Law and thereby ensuring the survival and full enjoyment of rights by all Nigerians .  Our Father, please repeal the Act.
A father knows his child, and accepts the best in him/her. A father audaciously, though often confusingly, engages with the complexities that are yet to be accustomed to or understood. We humbly your benevolence to engage with us on our humanity as your children, those who look up to your protection and defence.
We have a president, yes. But now we need you to stand, our father.
Respectfully,
Nnanna Ikpo
Samrawit Damtew
Tilahun Zewudie

Guillan Koko
(for the Nigerian LGBTIA community)