Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Report of the Protest: Kiss Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia Goodbye organized by Nigerian LGBTIs in Diaspora Against Anti Same Sex Laws on Tuesday 15 November in London.

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 and demand for the repeal of all Anti same sex laws. Nigerian LGBTI and straight supporters came out to join the protest, international supporters including notable UK Human rights activist, Peter Tatchell also stood with the Nigerian LGBTI in solidarity. The protesters carried placards with different slogans; some of the banners’ slogans were “Kiss Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia Goodbye!” “Proudly Gay, Proudly Nigerian!” “Some Nigerians are Gay, Get over it!” “Sodomy law is a colonial relic, repeal it now!” “Kiss Anti Same Sex marriage bill, Sodomy laws Goodbye!” and “Stop turning us into refugees, Repeal Sodomy laws Now!”.

The Campaign group’s position paper on the bill, report of the public hearing and one thousand petition signatures condemning the bill were submitted by Yemisi Ilesanmi and Davis Mac-Iyalla, coordinators of the protest, to the delegated representative of the Nigerian high commissioner. The group however condemned the decision of the high commissioner, HE Dr Dalhatu Sarki Tafida, not to receive them or send a senior official to represent him, even though he was notified in advance of the visit and protest. The group coordinators encountered some difficulties gaining access into the Nigerian House. The chief security officer later said he would collect the position paper on behalf of the high commissioner.

However, immediately after collecting the papers, the security officer insisted the protesters move away from the building to the opposite side of the road because the High commision was expecting some important visitors; a red carpet was laid to receive these important visitors in an indoor party. Yemisi Ilesanmi condemned the attitude of the Nigerian ambassador and his senior officials, she said the behavior was unethical, discriminatory and shows a lack of respect and contempt by the High commissioner for the citizens of Nigeria especially the LGBT community.

Speaking on the megaphone, Davis Mac-Iyalla urged Nigerians to repent of their homophobia; he also demanded that the Senators should stop peeping into citizens bedrooms and instead take seriously the important task of moving Nigeria’s economy forward.

Tokunbo Oke, a Nigerian human right defender and straight ally urged the Nigerian government to stop its discrimination of Lesbians, gays, bisexuals and Transexuals. He said the emphasis of the Nigerian government should be on curbing corruption and not how to further criminalizing its vulnerable citizens.

Mojisola Adebayo in her speech lamented that Nigeria Senators are using the same excuses that were used to justify slavery to justify discrimination against lesbians, gays and bisexuals. She said the Nigeria government is a shame as it takes pleasure in criminalizing innocent citizens.

Yemisi Ilesanmi urged the Nigeria ambassador to pass across the message of Nigerians LGBTIs in Diaspora to the Nigerian government. She said The Nigerian senate president owes the LGBT community an apology for his opening statement at the public hearing of the anti same sex marriage bill when he used his personal religious beliefs to justify the homophobic bill, and for allowing Senators and the many religious groups at the hearing to harass and intimidate the few LGBT activists present at the public hearing. She said “The senators should be guided by the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria and not by their bible or quran, the constitution is what the senators were sworn in to uphold, not holy books”.

The protesters sang, kissed and hug as a gesture of kissing homophobia, biphobia and transphobia goodbye. In their closing remarks, Yemisi Ilesanmi and Davis Mac-Iyalla said Nigerian LGBTIs in Diaspora Against Anti Same-Sex Laws appreciates the support of everyone especially non Nigerians who attended the rally to show their support. The group promised to follow the progress of the bill and also plan subsequent actions to demand the repeal of all anti same sex laws in Nigeria.

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