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OPINION Letter By Kazeem Shittu

During my short visit to Kaduna, North West, Nigeria from the 2nd – 4th August, 2019 , I had a encounter with some people beating and raining curses on an helpless man. I was so eager to know why. The reason for such act was because he is gay. A couple of things ran through my mind as they continued slapping, kicking, throwing punches and assaulting him;

Sexual orientation is one of many dimensions of a person and they deserve freedom from oppression and to over-emphasize that over others can be a dangerous thing if it is used as a principle deciding factor in things like job selection, political elections, political movements and what not.

The laws of any country that a ‘gay’ person is in should be respected to the best of their ability — and I say to the best of their ability because if their human and civil rights are being violated then that kind of voids their motivation to follow any sort of law that they deem discriminatory be it job wise or whatever. My stance is simply if you are who you are, be who you are but make sure you don’t impinge on any of my rights.

Well, continuing with my story, I approached the scene and offered to separate the man from assault but to my utter dismay, the fighters retaliated by attacking me too in which I had to manoeuvre and escape to a nearby catholic church. This prompted my trip back to Lagos because so I wouldn’t seem to be seen as someone who is not against homosexuality.

I do not know if the man in question was caught in the act but in  Kaduna where the Shariah law is practised, a person who commits the offence of sodomy “shall be punished with stoning to death”. With this I believe people with a different sexual orientation will flee to countries or states with progressive laws to seek protection. I must admit though that Kaduna is a very beautiful place with historic sites where most of the populace go about their daily activities peacefully.

Coming  from a person who lived in Texas, United States of America but was born in Nigeria, which like many other countries in Africa have or show a dislike of or prejudice against homosexual people and has strict anti-gay laws, punishing homosexual acts with up to 14 years in prison, it’s a complex issue and probably we will never come to any sort of complete agreement if every facet is discussed but to make it short, I met several ‘gay’ people during my 8 year incarceration in the States and I can say they were very easy to get along with and under no circumstance was I intimidated.

This is not an endorsement for any sort of policy.

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