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Anti Gay Law And Matters Arising – Babs Iwalewa

The recent criminalization of gay relationships, especially gay marriage by the Federal Government has brought a lot of rancor and uproar. Especially between those who are for and against the law. But beyond all these noise and sabre rattling, have we really paused to examine the real issues at stake? It doesn’t seem so as the whole atmosphere is still charged emotionally. Devoid of the emotions are there any issues arising from the signing into law of this bill? This shall be the main fulcrum upon which this essay seeks to intervene in the ranging controversy.

Sex has been a controversial issue right from biblical times. In fact a school of thought has it that the “forbidden fruit” that Eve gave Adam to eat in the bible was sex. Thus they were both expelled from the “Garden of Eden” as a result of this “sin”. However, over the years a dominant school of thought which has evolved opined that since all God’s creation was in pairs (male and female) then sexual intercourse should be between a male and female person. It should be noted that this school of thought is an offshoot of the “expulsion” of Adam and Eve from the “Garden of Eden”. History has it that immediately after the “expulsion”, Adam and Eve began to procreate and mankind began to increase in number.

This has been the traditional and dominant paradigm in which sexual relationships and intercourse is been viewed in most parts of Africa and indeed Nigeria up till this day. A major offshoot of this dominant paradigm on sexual relationships is the sanctimonious view held about sex as a “holy sacrament” between a consenting adult male and consenting adult female who are bonded together in a matrimonial union. Arguably, this has been the pervasive view in most parts of Africa and indeed Nigeria. It has also been a strategy which tended to hold the moral fabric of society together. However, as it is well known, to every general rule there has always been exceptions. In as much as sexual relationships were governed by this dominant paradigm in Africa and Nigeria, a certain minority deviated from this norm. These were the people who indulged in same sex practices (gays) and other acts of sexual philandering. These groups though in the minority were regularly fed by the avalanche of same sex secondary or high school boarding home colleges that dotted the landscape. But they all carried out their activities in a clandestine manner, aware of the wrath and ostracism that awaits them should they be found out.

The ascendancy of Western Capitalism and Western Imperialism especially under the guise of globalization in the 20th century led to a challenge of the dominant school of thought on sexual relationships in Africa. Hitherto, Western values encouraged a liberal attitude towards sex. The ascendancy of Western values in most parts of the world as a result of increased economic prosperity challenged this dominant paradigm. This led to the emergence of a new paradigm in sexual relationships which openly encouraged same sex relationships and sexual intercourse. The high point of this was the legalization of same sex marriages in most parts of Western societies. This emergent school of thought began to diffuse into other parts of the world not minding the existing norms and values in these parts.

It is in the light of this that the bill against similar sex marriages was passed and signed into law by the Nigerian government. For our level of development, and in order to preserve the social-moral fabric of the Nigerian society, the government seems to be in order by rising to the occasion. Nigeria today is buffeted by so many developmental problems such that the approval of same sex marriages will amount to a great distraction and further worsen the turmoil in the society. It may be safe for Western societies to condone and legalize same sex marriages because of their stage of development. In the Nigerian case, she cannot afford that luxury for now and even in some generations to come. The prohibition of same sex marriage is not a human right nor civil right issue but an issue of what is good for the society. This is where the paternalistic function of the state comes to fore. Comparing the Nigerian society with Western societies is akin to comparing “apples with oranges”. Yes they are both fruits but there are inherent differences in them that gives them their individual characters. Hence there may be no basis of comparison between apples and oranges.

The transfer or switching of gender roles which the modernist school of thought on sexual relationships seeks to foster on the Nigerian society is indeed confusing. When a male begins to marry a male and a female marries a female it begins to assail on the fundamental socio –psychological background upon which the home and family rests upon.

The modernist school of thought on sexual relationships can be rightly said to be anti African. This is because in most parts of Africa, what people do within their rooms (privacy) is better kept there and not revealed. Therefore making a whole lot of noise and pushing for the recognition of same sex marriage looks like a hurriedly crafted and bad imitation of foreign values. In as much as we need to be receptive and tolerant of other people’s values and culture, we need to be discerning and identify what works for us.

In conclusion, while the government seems to have acted right  in enacting the anti gay law, government needs to be reminded to also face other issues inhibiting the growth and development of Nigeria with the same tenacity and swiftness it has used in signing the anti gay bill into law.

The views expressed above are solely that of the writer and not of Omojuwa.com or its associates.

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