Labeling to Silence

By Nwachukwu Egbunike

Also I cannot but ask: where were you all when this bill went through the first, second and third readings in the Senate and House of Representatives respectively? Has the talk about this bill not been on for the past three to four years? But as soon as the president gave his assent to the legislation, we have been singing non-stop.

The shattering chatter in Nigerian blogosphere that followed the presidential assent to Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill 2013 is yet to fade out. Gay marriage is a sensitive issue and expectedly, there has been dissent and praise from Nigerians. However, as is wont in Twitter Nigeria, the dissenters have been quite vocal and have left none in doubt about their views. They have raised their voices in anger and have tried to label those who disagree with them or cow them into shameful silence.

Let me make it clear right from the outset – I do not hate gays [actually I try not to hate anyone – be they polygamists, bigamists or whatever] but I support the law. I have no wahala with what two men/women do in the privacy of their rooms. It’s just that I prefer that they keep it to their rooms but when they decide to marry, I think it becomes public business. And when it becomes public business, I reserve the right to comment, a right which our dissenters and new defenders of unfettered conjugal freedoms would want to deny me. And they try to do this with a vehemence which I find offensive.

The position on Twitter of these advocates of unfettered rights to all forms of connubial arrangements can be summarized thus; anyone who supports this bill is ignorant and needs to be “educated”. However, this education by our Gnostic-like intellectuals spares no fools and by necessity is achieved via arrogance. For the simpletons who are so daft to accept this legislation, do so because they are prisoners of religious superstition. The slurs have been creative: it goes from “hypocritical bigoted bigot” to “fanatical religious moron”. I have stumbled on others like: arsenic homophobe, close-minded, barbaric dim-wit, etc. The list is endless.

It’s a matter of love and we have been told that it’s vile to deny marriage to gays. However, marriage is not available to all who are in love. Loving a person does not give you the right to marry them. A man cannot marry a woman who is already married; a woman who loves two men cannot marry them both. Besides, allowing gays to marry will not stop marriage discrimination for two consenting adult siblings or a mother and her son. The same applies to the over-hyped expression of sex being between two consenting adults. What happens when those ‘adults’ are two siblings or a father and her daughter?

Also I cannot but ask: where were you all when this bill went through the first, second and third readings in the Senate and House of Representatives respectively? Has the talk about this bill not been on for the past three or four years? But as soon as the president gave his assent to the legislation, we have been singing non-stop. This is democracy, if you want to change this law, join a political party and contest for HOR or Senate from your constituency. After all, 2015 is the year for general elections.

Besides, this law was not made ex nihilo! The pro-gay lobby has been voracious for quite some time now. This bill, to my mind is a reaction – perhaps an over-reaction – but a reaction nonetheless to this lobby. Going by the oft-repeated logic by the dissenters, gay marriage is the least of our problems in Nigeria – corruption and reliable electricity supply are the more pressing problems and these should have occupied the attention of legislature and the executive. Arguing like this is very unhelpful since it is tantamount to saying that all other pursuits of government must be put on hold because we have not yet killed corruption or attained constant electricity? Nothing else should matter, just these two. Arguments like this ignore the multidimensionality of governance and the possibility for a government to pursue multiple targets at the same time.

And it’s quite appalling reading misrepresentations like “14 years in prison for being gay in Nigeria!” Gosh, and from those who should know better that the jail term is not for being gay, but for contracting a same-sex “marriage”. Google is your friend, use it – the bill is here, download and read it.

Let me emphasize that not everything that has an emotional appeal is right, or culturally suitable or biologically proper or in consonance with social norms. And the spirit of all laws derives from the meeting point between these influences from culture, biology and social norms. Wisdom, they say is a bag, let each person carry his own.

2 Comments

  1. Thank you for the piece. I clicked on the link you gave to the “law”, but only found the “bill” (i.e. in its experimental phase.) The “law” itself, after the presidential accent, criminalizes the orientation of being gay AS WELL AS belonging to associations/clubs that believe in the rights of gay people. I won’t address your points about what marriage should or should not be, because those are your beliefs. But the content of the law are more dire than what the bill said. Also, you may want to read this link which talks about the other problems with the law, even if – like you and I – you’re not gay: http://ayosogunro.com/2013/06/02/why-you-should-be-worried-about-nigerias-anti-gay-law-by-ayo-sogunro/. Thanks.

    Reply

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