Nigerian human rights activist Kayode Gomes describes the intense challenges faced by anyone who defends LGBT people in Nigeria.
Below are his words.
Defending others can be a fulfillment of purpose to save lives and promote human rights; recently it has become dangerous, risky, stigmatizing and discriminating….
Someone who I thought should defend me even when the world turns against me said to me, “I won’t be surprised if I find out tomorrow you are gay, because you are already beginning to act like it.”
Only because I said whoever is not comfortable with the work I do should give me alternatives or shut up!
The statement came as shock, not because I have not heard worse or had worse experiences, more than just statements, but I was shocked because of whom it came from. And no alternatives can be better than serving humanity.
Without self exemption, so many human rights defenders have suffered and still are suffering persecution, hate, stigma and discrimination just because we speak for vulnerable and marginalized groups, worst of all LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex). And I begin to wonder, what is so special about being LGBTI or defending LGBTI.
One major reason why there are so much activism around this area is because there are actions and bad laws that violate people’s rights. Society uses the opportunity to preach hate, blackmail, crucify, persecute and discriminate against loving people only because of their sexual orientation. They use religion and culture as their basis for argument.
News flash! LGBT persons are not aliens; they live among us. They hold reputable positions in the world. They are politicians, celebrities, husbands, wives, parents. You celebrate them, some are even your role models. They preach and pray on pulpit. People fall under anointing when they speak and lead worship songs in church. They lead prayers in mosque. They represent family and friends you have. A saying says, “When throwing a stone in the market, be careful because you don’t know if it will hit one of yours.”
Coming back to defending others, I have had terrible experiences just because I’m an activist saving lives and promoting human rights. I have been arrested. I have lost friends and colleagues. I have heard things and answered strange questions.
People will ask me, “If you are not one of them, why defend them?”
Worst of all, my mum once threaten to disown me if I continue to defend the rights of LGBT. They say, “God is not happy with me.”….. Lol! The last time I checked, God has been my pillar and source.
There is no joy more than I’m fulfilled saving lives and promoting human rights.
I don’t have to be gay to defend LGBT rights. No one ever asked me why I defend or address issues affecting other marginalized groups such as; PwD (People with Disability), SW (Sex Workers), PLwHIV (People Living with HIV/AIDS) and so on. … So why attach so much importance, hate and stigma to sexual minorities?
By the way; who is the sinner and who is committing crime? Is it the person who is passionate, happy and in love with his/her life or the person that saves lives and promotes human rights? Or you that preach hate, condemn, judge and crucify others?
Only hypocrites think some group of people are less human. … What makes you better?
Kayode Gomes is a Nigerian blogger, film maker, media personality, human rights activist, psychosocial counselor, paralegal, public health workers and social worker.
For more of his articles visit: https://kayodegomes.blogspot.com.ng/