If the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, had her way, she would jail President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda. Last week, May called for same-sex marriages in Nigeria and other Commonwealth countries. It was that same week that Museveni chose to pooh-pooh the idea and even went ahead to warn against oral sex. As far as the Ugandan helmsman is concerned, the mouth is for eating and not for sex.
May made her own proposal at the first joint forum of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Westminster. According to her, though most of the laws against same-sex marriages in the Commonwealth were made by the United Kingdom, those laws were wrong then, and are wrong now.
True, May had once been an opponent of gay rights. She had voted against many early reforms, including an equal age of consent and same-sex adoptions.
Today, she is born-again. “As the UK’s Prime Minister,” she said, “I deeply regret that those laws were introduced …as a family, we must respect one another’s cultures and traditions, but we must do so in a manner consistent with equality, as it is clearly stated in the Commonwealth charter.”
According to her, nobody should face discrimination or persecution because of who they are or who they love. She said the UK was ready to help any Commonwealth member wanting to reform outdated legislation that made such discrimination possible. With the support of May, Britain passed the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act in 2013.
Across many of the Western world, same-sex marriage is seen as a human rights issue. Just as they frown upon racial, gender and other forms of discrimination, they also condemn any form of discrimination against gays and lesbians.
When Nigeria passed the law against same-sex marriage in 2014, some Western countries such as the United States and Britain condemned it. The then US Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States was deeply concerned by a law that “dangerously restricts freedom of assembly, association and expression for all Nigerians.”
Britain said it opposed any form of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. It said the law infringed upon fundamental rights of expression and association, which were guaranteed by the Nigerian Constitution and by international agreements to which Nigeria was a party.
On the contrary, many African countries see same-sex marriage as unnatural, an abomination.
Museveni of Uganda represents the voice of the continent on this issue. In 2014, Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Act, making it illegal to be gay in Uganda. Whoever is found to be having regular gay sex risks life imprisonment. It is also a criminal offence not to report someone for being gay.
After introducing the anti-homosexuality law in 2014, Museveni also condemned oral sex, saying it could cause worms. “You push the mouth there, you can come back with worms and they enter your stomach because that is a wrong address,” he asserted.
Now, the man is mooting the idea of banning oral sex in his country. He issued a public warning about it, and blamed “outsiders” for trying to convince Ugandans to perform oral sex on one another.
“The mouth is for eating, not for sex. We know the address of sex, we know where sex is,” he said.
How Museveni intends to catch oral sex offenders remains to be seen. Perhaps, he will organise oral sex police who will intermittently snoop on couples with secret cameras to catch those putting the thing in a wrong address.
For now, Nigerians can still enjoy their thing using any address, as there is no plan to introduce oral sex prohibition bill in the National Assembly. What the law currently abhors in Nigeria is gay relationships. Former President Goodluck Jonathan signed the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act in 2014. The law criminalises homosexual clubs, associations and organisations and makes it illegal for gay people to even hold a meeting.
According to the law, whoever registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies or organisations, or directly or indirectly makes public show of amorous same-sex relationship in Nigeria, or enters into same-sex marriage contract commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a term of up to 14 years in jail.
So far, I’m not sure if anybody has been convicted for violating this law. But different arrests have been made. Last August, the police raided a hotel in Lagos and arrested 42 men for alleged homosexuality. They threatened to charge them to court in accordance with the law, after investigation. In April 2017, 53 men accused of participating in a gay wedding, were similarly arrested in Zaria. They were later released on bail after they pleaded not guilty. In Shariah-compliant parts of northern Nigeria, homosexuals even risk being stoned to death.
The point is, many Africans see homosexuality as anathema to their culture and religion. In Gambia, former President Yahya Jammeh even suggested decapitation for homosexuals. Senegal’s President Macky Sall once reportedly said his countrymen liked polygamy but couldn’t impose it on Europeans because the people wouldn’t understand it and wouldn’t accept it.
What I don’t fully understand yet is why many of these Western nations will endorse same-sex marriage but frown upon bestiality and incest. Penultimate week, Louisiana’s state senate in the United States approved a bill explicitly banning sex with animals by 25 votes to 10. The bill not only makes sexual contact with or abuse of an animal illegal, it also requires an abused animal to be taken from its abuser. Those convicted are to be barred from owning any pets in future.
In 2015, Denmark became one of the last European countries to ban bestiality. First-time offenders now face up to one year in prison and two years for repeat offenders. Before then, sex with animals was legal in the country as long as the animal was unharmed. Danish Ethical Council for Animals said in a report that there were frequent reports of the occurrence of organised animal sex shows, clubs and animal brothels in Denmark. The practice is still legal in Hungary, Finland and Romania. Ironically, homosexuality is illegal in Hungary and Romania.
With the exception of a few countries like Spain, France, and Portugal, where consensual incest is reportedly not prohibited, the majority of Western nations do not approve of it. So, does this not amount to discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation? Is it not an infringement upon fundamental rights of expression of those involved?
Very soon, countries where incest is practised will start harassing us to also adopt it. Gradually, it is even creeping into our society. Last February, one Chiadikobi Ezeibekwe, married his 17-year-old sister in Ekwulobia, Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State. Ezeibekwe, who is a mathematics teacher in a secondary school, claimed God told him to do so. According to him, one advantage of siblings marrying one another is that it discourages divorce and retains family values and norms.
Incidentally, their elder brother, Chijioke Ezeibekwe, who is the priest of Dwelling Fullness of God Church, conducted the wedding. The youths of the village had since set the church ablaze. A Catholic priest later conducted the cleansing of the land.
Somehow, some of the things we still see today as taboos no longer shock me. My sojourn in the United Kingdom some years back has equipped me with a liberal spirit and a shock absorber. My first culture shock in Europe was encountering a wedding reception for a male couple. The two men wore their wedding outfit, hugged and kissed each other. They also took photographs with relatives and guests as done in any normal wedding.
Mrs. May should understand that just as it sounds strange to have sex with animals in her country, it also sounds strange, especially to the majority of Africans, for a man to have sex with a fellow man; or a woman with a fellow woman. It is against the order of nature.
Until Britain and other Western nations sanction bestiality and incest, they should stop preaching homosexuality to us. What we need from them essentially are multi-billion-pounds investments, not same-sex copulation.
Kudos to The Niche on 4th anniversary.
The Niche newspaper marked its fourth anniversary with a lecture at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Lagos, last Friday. The guest lecturer and former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof. Kingsley Moghalu, gave a good account of the topic: “Development Reporting and Hysteria Journalism in Nigeria.” The chairperson on the occasion and presidential aspirant, Prof. Remi Sonaiya, and other discussants such as the president of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, Mrs. Funke Egbemode, former deputy managing director of Access Bank, Mr. Obinna Nwosu, senior research fellow, Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Prof. Fred Aja Agwu, and All Progressives Congress chieftain, Joe Igbokwe, enlivened the audience with their contributions.
I wish to particularly commend my good friend and the managing director/editor-in-chief of The Niche, Ikechukwu Amaechi, for the successful outing. At the end of the day, many people were left wondering what the future of the newspaper industry would be in the near future. Many newspapers have closed shop. Many others are struggling to survive with little or no salary for workers. Amid these uncertainties, Mr. Amaechi and his team have trudged on. Congratulations to The Niche team.