Why Do We Still Have LGBTQ+ Individuals In Nigeria?23 min read

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Did you choose what turns you on or did you simply find yourself attracted to it? 

When I was a kid, I ran around the neighbourhood naked. The adults and older kids sometimes chuckled and asked me to put on some clothes. With time, as I matured, I understood and felt self-motivated to put on clothes. Cloths not only protected my body from stains and injuries but also did away with the awkward feeling of all eyes looking at my penis. However, I didn’t understand what it meant to be sexually attracted to someone, yet.

As teenagers, one of the core ideas that gets drummed into you (and that you get to repeat to others) is “Fornication is a sin!”. This, of course, made almost every kid super-uneasy about such matters. 

However, as puberty kicked in, fear gave way to lust.

I still remember having erections so strong and long that I felt embarrassed to stand up in class when asked a question, or when I needed to go get something. I wasn’t in complete control of my body. And, I had a lot of dreams and intrusive thoughts that were sexual. 

In short, I was being compelled by forces beyond my logical/rational mind to act in ways which I believed were wrong. Thoughts I believed were bad and sometimes crafted by Satan himself to mislead me.

Long story short, my sexuality took over. And, even though a few years earlier I had no compulsion, when I gained my sexual drive, I began to find the orifices of the opposite gender not just admirable, but almost irresistible.

Now, I blush when I see goats and dogs sniffing and licking each other’s genitals. I know they are animals. But, more importantly, I am embarrassed that I am not much better.

As I began to embrace my sexuality, one intrusive thought that often got in my head were flashes of Clergymen, politicians, or celebrities being naked or having sex. They were animals too.

Of course, it didn’t take long for the teachers to start giving lessons about sexual health and reproduction. Those classes were awkward and I often laughed away the tension. 

However, I also began to notice something strange. Even though my sexuality was validated, that of a few people was mostly ignored, and antagonized when brought up. This was the sexual preferences of people who were attracted to people of the same sex.

I’ve always been that kid who would ask questions if mom gave him a piece of meat but didn’t give any to his cousins. And, that is exactly why you are reading this piece that tries to explain the misconceptions about LGBTQ+ people even though I might ask a guy to give me some space if I find he gets too physically close to me. 

Is It Illegal To Be Sexually Attracted To The Same Sex In Nigeria?

On January 7, 2014, Nigeria’s former president, Goodluck Jonathan, signed a bill (called the SSMPA) prohibiting same-sex marriage. This law prohibits cohabitation and public displays of same-sex sexual relationships. Furthermore, it prohibits anyone from “registering, operating, participating in, or supporting” gay clubs, societies, or organizations. 

Nevertheless, I believe it is important to address some misconceptions about LGBTQ+ individuals, and maybe get others to rethink how they treat their fellow humans. 

What Is The Meaning of LGBTQ+?

LGBTQ+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and More (i.e. + more sexual orientations). 

When most people think of gender or sex, they think it is simply binary – i.e. male and female, masculine and feminine. While this is mostly true, there are instances where the line blurs. Yes, in most cases, it is easy to tell whether a person is male or female from the sex organ they possess or how they behave. But not everyone’s sex organ falls into the male or female category, and masculine or feminine behaviours are not always tethered to sex organs. 

This brings us to the concept of intersex individuals..

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Who Are Intersex Individuals?

Intersex individuals are a diverse group of people who have naturally occurring variations in their reproductive or sexual anatomy that don’t fit neatly into the typical male/female binary categories. These variations can involve chromosomes, hormones, and genitalia, and there are many different ways someone can be intersex.

These intersex variations include:

  • Chromosomal variations: Intersex individuals may have chromosomes other than XX (female) or XY (male), such as XXY, XXX, XYY, or mosaics (a combination of XX and XY cells).
  • Gonadal variations: They may have gonads (ovaries or testes) that are different from what is expected for their assigned sex. For example, someone with Klinefelter syndrome (XXY) may have testes but also have some female characteristics.
  • Genital variations: Intersex individuals may have external genitalia that don’t clearly appear male or female, or that fall somewhere in between.

Please note that being intersex is different from conditions like Prader-Willi syndrome, which has specific genetic causes and needs medical care.

Being intersex is a natural variation in human biology, much like having different hair colours or eye shapes. While some intersex individuals may decide to have medical interventions or treatments to manage specific situations, these are not due to their intersex status itself.

For instance, when babies are born with sex characteristics that don’t fit neatly into the male/female binary, they are considered intersex. According to research, this natural variation affects approximately 0.018% of births (though many may not be noticed until later in life.). In these cases, doctors may perform ultrasounds, blood tests, and other examinations to understand the baby’s anatomy, chromosomes, and hormone levels. However, the goal is not to categorize the baby as “more male” or “more female,” but to gather information to help guide medical decisions and support the child’s well-being.

In some cases, doctors may even recommend assigning a sex category to the child based on their understanding of the internal and external anatomy. This is a complex decision that involves medical considerations, parental consultation, and ethical considerations. However, this does not typically determine the child’s gender as they may grow up feeling and acting like a male or female despite the assigned sex. 

Perhaps this is a good time to highlight that sex and gender are not the same. Think of sex as the hardware, and gender as the software. While sex refers to biological traits like anatomy and chromosomes, gender is a social construct about expression and identity. This is why even Men who take care of domestic work are often labelled “feminine” or “women” by society because such roles are traditionally considered feminine by society. Not that there is anything particularly wrong with doing those things if you are a man.

Anyway, all these are simply to highlight the fact that gender and consequently sexual orientation are not clear-cut or binary, but more complex and nuanced than most people think. And that, strict categorization, stereotyping, and laws may end up setting up some individuals for a life full of pain and suffering.

But, as you can guess, not so many people know or care to learn about these sorts of things. Besides, when you live in a religious country like Nigeria, you can rest assured that critical thinking and empathy are overshadowed by religious zeal and dogma. 

What Nigerians Think of The LGBTQ+ Community

Below are some of the opinions of Nigerians about LGBTQ according to the Punch Newspaper; I will add context under each response so it is easy for you to follow.

Commenter 1: I believe God made everything perfect. If homosexuality was a natural aberration, then we could have been seeing other animals such as goats displaying such tendencies of wanting to mount a fellow male. In my own opinion, any animal that displays such tendencies is bio-engineered or a kind of research by scientists. 

Context: Same-sex sexual behaviour has been observed in a vast array of animals, from tiny insects to majestic apes. Over 1,500 species across diverse groups like fish, reptiles, birds, and mammals exhibit this behaviour. Notably, primates show a high prevalence, with at least 51 species from lemurs to bonobos documented engaging in same-sex interactions.

Commenter 2: Wicked people can afflict someone with homosexuality, making him or her have the sexual urge for the same sex. If you approach some homosexuals and ask them why they prefer the same sex, they can’t give you a reasonable answer. When you see that, just know the devil is at work.

Context: If you flip this question to a straight person, they would equally struggle to give any reasonable answer other than that they are simply attracted to the other gender. Nevertheless, sexual attraction has been observed to be influenced by a complex interplay of biological, psychological, and social factors. Evolutionary perspectives offer one lens to understand some aspects of attraction, particularly its historical role in reproduction, but shouldn’t be used to define or limit it.

Commenter 3: What they see people doing in foreign lands where they have no culture is what they want to imitate. Here we are well-cultured and should not imitate them because it’s wrong. How can a government say women can marry women? The Bible is totally against it. Right from the days of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, it has always been a man marrying a woman.

And so on…

Context: From a religious standpoint, there may be reasons to outlaw LGBTQ+ people, however, Nigeria is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious state which makes it unreasonable to base a law on a religious text. Nevertheless, the two major religions in the country frown at the LGBTQ+ community which makes it even less likely that they will ever be accepted.

Perspectives like these have promoted Musicians like Falz to release songs like “Hypocrite” – Although this song covers other issues, one of the themes that stood out was his criticism of the discrimination of same-sex sexual behaviours. He tried to contrast it with other worse behaviours such as prostitution and pedophilia. Of course, two wrongs don’t make a right, so the argument does not suffice, though it hints at something disturbing – which is, the tendency for people to demonise things that are not normal or common to them.

I’ve also come to realise that even though many people hold on to religious beliefs, there are a few who still apply reason and compassion. For instance, here are two separate responses I got when I talked about the issue on my WhatsApp status. 

Comment 1: “Hey David, what I’m about to say only applies to you if you’re a serious Christian and if you’re serious about God. God created a man and a woman to bring forth children, not a man and a man or otherwise, the LGBTQ+ is an agenda of the devil to stop the great generations that God has ordained from coming forth because apart from a man and a woman, there is no other way that a child can come forth to this world. So you are supposed to help them turn away from it, not to help people understand them better. You doing this (i.e. writing this blog post), is going against God’s agenda whether you like it or not. God doesn’t care if it’s about your career or not, your life should please God because to Him all glory belongs.

Comment 2: […] God is the all-knowing God and he knows why he did it so. We can’t question him for making people differently. We can only try to coexist. Let’s go to the scientific aspect of it. It’s been proven that animals also display homosexual behaviour. My question now is, “Is it the same devil’s agenda to prevent animals from multiplying?”

It is interesting to see that the opinion of many Nigerians about LGBTQ+ is based on religious beliefs rather than science (aka, reason and evidence). 

Anyway, to further understand what was going on, I decided to do something interesting.

LGBTQ+ In Our Society?

I realized I needed to hear from the LGBTQ+ community if this piece was going to be balanced, thorough, and impactful. So I put up a post asking, “Are you LGBTQ+ living in Nigeria? I’m working on a piece and would love to share at least one original story. Since it’s illegal in Nigeria you’ll be kept anonymous”. (I used Kubool for this survey).

I got a couple of responses. Some of these include:

  1. Seriously, I hope this is a safe space for people like me. No one can really understand how it feels to be in the closet for years. Because of the hate, we’re forced to become actors, living a life that’s not ours, every day. Honestly, it’s choking”. – Anonymous [07-01-2023 07:46 GMT]
  2. I’m not an LGBTQIA. But I’ve had experience. I went to a female only school. It appears that humans are naturally sexual beings and hence our sexuality must be expressed. The kids then had no idea that what they were doing was tagged lesbianism. It was just a mere idea of one girl kissing another girl and fondling your privates. I kissed a girl and developed some kind of emotions towards the girl in particular. But never got to the part of fondling. It was exciting and nice. However, I stopped my feelings towards women because it was against my religion (Christianity) not necessarily because I didn’t like it. So lesbians genuinely have feelings for women, contrary to popular belief. I personally only subjected my feelings because of my religion and still do. But I’m naturally inclined to love women more than men. I’m almost a pastor in my church and I personally choose to not allow the feelings grow” – Anonymous [07-01-2023 09:44 GMT]
  3. I’ve never had sex with a woman. But I’m physically attracted to women. And I’m a strong christian. I even have a spec for the women I am attracted to, and my boyfriend even knows it. The only reason I’ve not explored my gay part is because (1.) Christianity is strongly against it hence I don’t want to offend God. (2.) I know it may be a journey of no return. I’ve been like this from childhood. I’m not possessed because my dad is a pastor, no Reverend, and we’ve always been trained in the Bible. So lesbianism is natural. I don’t know about Gay. But for me it comes naturally. I don’t need to do anything to find a woman attractive. I love women and their curves. I love how they look feminine and I love how they wear makeup, dress up and how they do shakara.” – Anonymous [07-01-2023 13:52 GMT]

And so on.

What I found most interesting was that even the LGBTQ+ individuals also had strong religious beliefs. Which triggers Religious Internal Conflict (and possibly Religious Trauma) in many of them. (It is quite obvious from their responses).  

At this point, you might be wondering, okay, enough of the back and forth. What is the reality of things? 

  1. Is LGBTQ+ natural?
  2. How many are there? (Are they increasing in number?) and
  3. What are the dangers (or benefits) of having LGBTQ+ in our society?

Well, keep in mind that this is for educational purposes. And, I may not be able to capture all the necessary information in this piece, but I’ll try to link to relevant resources where necessary. So, be willing and ready to do your own research, okay?

Is LGBTQ+ Natural?

In nature, while homosexual behaviour is most well-known from social species, Same-sex behavior can be noticed in almost every major animal group. Such behaviours include same-sex sexual activity, courtship, affection, pair bonding, and parenting among same-sex animal pairs.

“Homosexuality” is scientifically considered a nearly universal phenomenon in the animal kingdom. (From worms to frogs to birds to humans.)

And, even though, there hasn’t been any generally agreed upon cause of sexual orientation or gender identity scientists theorize that it is caused by a complex interplay of biological, psychological, and social factors.

It is also worth noting that the LGBTQ+ persons are present in many different cultures and societies around the world. In other words, the Western culture does not produce more LGBTQ+ people than the African culture. In fact, culture and religious affiliation have nothing to do with the matter – just as religion and culture don’t affect the feeling of hunger or thirst. Furthermore, LGBTQ+ individuals have been part of the world since time immemorial (it is not a trend that has just sprung up in recent times)

(Even if someone decides to act like Nazi Germany under Hitler’s leadership, round up and murder all the LGBTQ+ individuals in the world, more will be born. That is why there are still LGBTQ+ people in Nigeria. However, they will live in heightened fear and frustration. And they will secretly ask their friends, “Please, tell me where I can be safe”). 

How Many People Are Gay?

According to this report, globally, 7% say they are only or mostly attracted to the same sex, 4% equally to both sexes, 83% only to the opposite sex and 6% don’t know or prefer not to say.

This means, statistically speaking, the LGBTQ+ people are an extremely small group of people in our society and the world at large. However, it is difficult to tell the exact percentage as most people decide to keep it to themselves. (Why? Well, haven’t you been reading all we’ve been saying?).

However, as the stigma and punishments are being reduced in most advanced countries, more and more people are becoming open about their sexual orientation. For example, this report shows that the youngest group, or Generation Z, have been seen to be more likely to identify as (i.e. admit that they are) bisexual (9%) than Millennials (4%), Generation X (3%) and Boomers (2%).

And, it is because of statistics like this that most LGBTQ+ communities are striving to reduce the stigma and punishments attached to being born that way.

This content – “Why LGBTQIA+ Representation in TV Shows and Movies Is So Important” – published by “Parets.com” goes in depth in explaining why LGBTQ+ representatives are becoming more and more mainstream in TV shows. It is an agenda pushed by the maginalized few, and not Satan.

Interestingly, a content published by “Premiumtimesng.com” calls the Anti-gay law enacted by the Nigerian Former president, a Crime against reason.

The Consequences of Having/Being LGBTQ+ In Countries Like Nigeria:

The more you discuss the topic and ask questions (in a country like Nigeria), the more you realise it is less about reason and facts but more about obeying what was written in the ancient religious text or salving people’s phobia. 

Most Religions consider it a sin and fear that accepting (not to mention supporting) the LGBTQ+ can cause God to rain down fire on all of us like Sodom and Gomorrah

Also, the punishment of Crimes against nature (which does not only include homosexuality, but sodomy, and masturbation amongst others) is still prevalent in the Northern Part of Nigeria where the Sharia Law is observed.

Whilst these are merely religious views and phobias, they can have real adverse effects on the lives of people. To understand how this can be, consider what is happening in many African villages, where clergymen preach that the use of condoms is sinful. As innocent as the teaching seems, it causes uneducated and subservient members to avoid the use of the contraceptive, leading to widespread HIV, pregnancies, and consequently death and impoverishment of millions, yearly. A lady literally stated, “We won’t go to heaven if we use condoms,

And, just like how innocent religious beliefs about the use of condoms lead to death and suffering, the beliefs about the LGBTQ+ also have had real consequences. 

For example:

  • In February 2014, about 50 men armed with machetes, clubs, whips, and metal wires attacked and brutalized 14 men whom they suspected of being gay in Gishiri village, Abuja (the Capital of Nigeria). They were reportedly yelling sentences like, “We are doing [President Goodluck] Jonathan’s work: cleansing the community of gays.” and “Jungle justice! No more gays!”. None of them were arrested.
  • When there was a mass shooting at a gay club in Orlando, a pastor actually celebrated it. He said his only regret was that the assailants didn’t finish the job, and that it was fine with him if the government endorsed and executed such violent acts against the LGBTQ+ communities.
  • And several other LGBTQ+ people consistently report being bullied, threatened, harassed, and even killed on the basis of their sexuality. Last year, a Kenyan Gay rights activist was found dead. What is most startling is the amount of support the assailants are getting online, with some even saying things like, “Remain that naija gay activist, he own go worse“, and, “If you’re this thing in Africa, please try and carry your gay ass to America… We don’t want you here.

Meanwhile, there has been no physical, economical, or social dangers experienced by countries that have accepted or supported the LGBTQ+ individuals in their society. In fact, research has shown that acceptance and support of LGBTQ individuals can have numerous benefits, both for LGBTQ+ individuals and for society as a whole. Some of these include improved economic productivity, improvement in mental health and well-being of LGBTQ+ individuals, advances in human rights, and fostering of a more open and accepting society, amongst others.

Eh…, 9ja get bigger wahala to worry about, abi?

Conclusion: Respect, Safety, And Orgasms.

I think fear and lack of understanding fucks up individuals, and consequently societies in ways we can’t begin to analyze here. And, I think fear is also a major driving factor in the case of Anti-gay laws and homophobia (Phobia literally means fear).

  • If you fear God is going to punish you for accepting LGBTQ+, then there is really nothing anyone can do to change your stance. Just as no one can change your mind about the type of food you choose to eat due to your religious choices. Unless, of course, you let go of the religious belief (and start eating whatever you fancy).
  • If you fear being molested by an LGBTQ+ individual (which is still a sign of homophobia), your fear is mostly out of place. I have heard, read, and written enough about sexual abusers to know that it is not something to be pinned on a certain group of people (just as it is erroneous and unjust to pin crime on Igbo people). The world is full of rapists, and abusers, and very very few of them are part of the  LGBTQ+ community.
  • If you fear having LGBTQ+ individuals in our societies will influence or “corrupt” the young ones, then I fear you’ve misunderstood sexual orientations with habits. Whilst one can be learned, the other can’t be (pretty much how you can’t learn to breathe underwater – because it is not in your nature). It is no surprise that everyone in “America” isn’t Gay.

And while it might be difficult to wrap your head around why the sexual orientation of few people can be different – making you think it is their sinful choice – perhaps looking back at how your own sexual orientation emanated and solidified will help (though I am not sure it will work for most people, because it requires enormous empathy to put oneself in others’ shoes, and a lot of humility and open-mindedness to change one’s mind). 

Anyway, it is also interesting to see the vast gamut of sexual kinks straight people have. Just look at this weird list of kinks including

  1. Age Play
  2. Bondage
  3. Dominance 
  4. Electrostimulation
  5. Foot fetishism
  6. Gagging
  7. Humiliation
  8. Impact play
  9. Masochism
  10. Pregnancy fetishism
  11. Roleplay
  12. Voyeurism

And so much more.

Humans are weird. Sex and sexuality is weirder. For example, I enjoy spanking a soft fat ass, fondling boobies, and thrusting my penis inside a wet-tight vagina. Why do I enjoy that? I don’t know. Maybe it’s the extremely pleasurable sensation; even though I don’t want a baby, yet.

Maybe I am just a sick-twisted-fuck. Or maybe I’m just that way. Whatever the case, prioritising compassion, respect, and safety is good for everyone.

(Only a few individuals understand or respect the LGBTQ+ community in Nigeria. Most recently over 60 people were arrested at an alleged gay wedding in Southern Nigeria. Eventually, LGBTQ+ individuals who have the means end up leaving for countries like Canada or the United States where discrimination is less rampant, sacrificing their roots and community ties for the right to exist authentically)

TL;DR

  1. The SSMPA bill bans same-sex sexual activities, same-sex marriage, and all LGBTQ+ gatherings. It’s also illegal to support LGBTQ+ organizations.
  2. LGBTQ+ means Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Quere, and more.
  3. I am writing to share the facts, only.
  4. Most Nigerians are against the LGBTQ+ community mainly based on religious beliefs and phobia (and not for economic, social, or scientific reasons)
  5. This has led to discrimination, attack, and abuse of LGBTQ+ individuals.
  6. According to science, homosexual behaviours are common in all major animal species including humans. And, it is not by choice, neither is it learned.
  7. Very few people are LGBTQ+, and their number isn’t growing. However, due to decriminalization and less stigma in advanced countries, more of them are beginning to come out of the closet.
  8. Societies that have accepted the LGBTQ+ have seen an improvement in the mental health of LGBTQ+ individuals, improved economic growth, and stronger social cohesion amongst others.
  9. It seems straight people also have very weird and twisted kinks that they cannot really explain the reasons for.
  10. Evidence suggests promoting compassion, respect, and safety in society is good for everyone.

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I enjoy writing long-form SEO content for self-help and personal development blogs. I can also do simple graphics design and copywriting. I’m an author, coach, logician, introvert, and storyteller. I love simplicity.

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