Thursday, May 20, 2010
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN OF PRESS
International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia 2010
A Statement by Queer Alliance Nigeria.
We are here today as citizens of Nigeria to add our voice against homophobia and transphobia and to remind our government, religious bodies, media, people and society that they may run us out of their churches, mosques, homes, jobs and neighborhood, but they cannot run us out of this nation nor reduce the love of God that includes us. This year’s International Day against Homophobia and transphobia is on the theme: Religions, homophobia, transphobia.
We are gathered here today as active players in the social and political development of our great nation. As activist and pressmen we share a lot in common and we have responsibility and a honorable tradition in promoting human rights for all Nigerian citizens. We therefore have come together to raise our voices using your platform to address against a particular and peculiar form of discrimination and violence against a vulnerable sub population. It is speaking out for our lives and rights: International Day against Homophobia and transphobia.
The world over, the influence of religion cannot be overstated. Religion is one single important aspect of our lives as human beings. It plays a very significant part in our everyday lives, choices and decision. And with all influence we cannot but also talk about the ills that are also associated with using the religion and its influence for the wrong purpose. Organized religion as we all know is a factor responsible for some of the world’s most dreaded atrocities. The Boko – Haram insurgence, the Jos Crisis, and many others are among the ills that its influence has brought about. In March 2009, during the public hearing on the Same Gender (Prohibition) Act, religion played a very prominent role through its leaders.
It is a sad situation in deed that religion which is supposed to be a rallying point for all irrespective of our differences is now a dividing bridge and a platform for the both state and non state orchestrated violence. It is also saddening to know that some religious leaders are behind the scene.
While religion is the main fuel for homophobia and transphobia, the reality is that our religious leaders in Nigeria and the African Continent have practically refused to explore to understand the concept of sexuality, orientation and diversity. We believe that sexuality is not a dark part of man’s life that must be shrouded in secrecy. But is a rare gift of life from the creator that must be expressed lovingly. Religious leaders could help explore this concept and its relation with religion and spirituality.
Nigeria’s constitution guarantees the right to association, freedom of speech and several other non alienable rights. Our country is also a signatory to international conventions, notably is Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the African Charter on Human Rights which protects sexual minorities, the ratification of which we are yet to witness locally. At this point in the history of our country, we are going through a period in which the decisive support for the rule of law, principles of freedom of speech, artistic and intellectual expression, association, religious liberty, an open society and the respect and recognition of the rights of sexual minorities’ in Nigeria have become an absolute necessity. It is our hope that our great nation through its religious leaders can provide support for all human rights that are entitled to all Nigerians without borders and also help develop it elsewhere. It is also our hope that our religious leaders can come to the table and dialogue with us.
As a country we do not need a religiously ordered society but a religiously and spiritually ordered mind that will propel us to love our neighbors as ourselves irrespective of our sexual and other differences. This in turn will then transpire out into the socially ordered Nigerian society that we all yearn for.
As we use today to call and clamor for the respect and recognition of sexual minorities’ in Nigeria, we look forward to the day that our rights as sexual minorities shall be upheld and protected constitutionally.
QUEER ALLIANCE NIGERIA