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Nigerian, Ghanaian homosexuals clamour for recognition
ONE of the world's prevalent issues is no doubt the controversy on the legalisation of gay and lesbianism as the homosexual community grows daily in different parts of the world. And it has been argued for and against, at different quarters, why homosexuality should and should not be allowed in certain countries across the globe.
Moreover, the memory of the recent victory of homosexuals in New York, where it was legalised, has not only made New York the sixth state to approve gay marriage but has also motivated homosexuals in the state to make more demands, while many other homosexuals in countries where it is not permitted wasted no time in traveling to such countries where they could practise the act without being reprimanded.
So far, according to reports, 76 countries still consider homosexuality a crime and Africa is one of the continents that stand so strongly against it, excluding South Africa. Though the issue of gay and lesbianism have reared ugly heads in different countries at different times, the season of Republic of Ghana has come as her homosexual community is demanding for equality and elimination of discrimination, after its five years failure on the campaign for its legalisation.
Taking readers down memory lane, it would be recalled that homosexuals have been working to protect the interest of lesbians and gays in the capital city of Accra in the past five years. It has a membership of about 250 couples, while investigation points to an expansive gay and lesbian community in the capital, with networks across the country.
This prompted the writer to find out why sex with the same gender is what gives some people pleasure in the world, with concentrated focus on the Republic of Ghana.
Findings reveal that several people in Ghana get caught up in homosexuality for different reasons, and one of the most common reasons is the financial factor. Research reveals that majority of Ghanaians who venture into the act are attracted to it as a result of the financial gains.
Social networks such as Gay sites, Out personals and Gaydar are some of the websites where many Ghanaian boys situate their market, with their different sexy pictures in order to attract both local and international suitors, while those who are ''lucky'' among them usually find partners abroad who foot their bills, which some of them use to train themselves in school.
Some are invited to whichever country their lovers are, while some white men take the bull by the horns by hitting the gate of Ghana in search of their lovers.
The interesting part of it is some of these Ghanaians are not gay but rather Ghanaians looking for greener pastures or financial aid, which usually lead them into duping these foreigners through every means possible.
Another prominent factor is what is described as sexual orientation. This factor has been one of the strongest points often used when debating the issue of homosexuality.
Wikipedia describes sexual orientation as a pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions to the opposite sex, the same, both, or neither, and the gender that accompanies them.
According to researchers, these attractions are subsumed under heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality and asexuality. American Psychological Association says sexual orientation is enduring and also refers to a person said sense of personal and social identity, based on those attractions, behaviour expressing them, and membership in a community of others who share them.
The current consensus among scholars is that sexual orientation is not a choice. No single cause for sexual orientation has been conclusively demonstrated but research suggests that it is by a combination of genetic, hormonal and environmental influences, with biological factors involving a complex interplay of genetic factors and the early uterine environment.
Friends’ Influence is one of the factors that cannot be neglected. Some gays try to lure their friends into joining them in the act, while some of them, with a sense of wild adventure, prompt their involvement.
It would be recalled that 31st of October, 2011 marked another crucial date in Nigeria's fight against homosexuality by further amending the law that criminalises homosexuality in Nigeria, and this single action prompted the demonstration of some gays and lesbians on Monday in Abuja to openly criticised a bill seeking to further prohibit same sex marriage in Nigeria.
They contended that the bill would make them refugees and asylum seekers in other countries. Meanwhile, the Senate conducted a simultaneous public hearing on a bill to prohibit same sex marriage as well as a bill to amend the transfer of convicted offenders.
In reaction to this, the spokesman for Nigerian Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transsexuals and Intersex living in Diaspora, Dr Otibho Obianwu, said consensual adult relationship should not be punished.
According to him, '' Many talented Nigerians are living in Diaspora openly as gays and lesbians. We contribute positively to the development of our country of residence, but we are afraid to come and contribute to the development of our mother land because of fear of victimisation.
“We visit home with trepidation because at home we have to live a life of lies.”
Obianwu said passing the bill would make gays and lesbians live pretentious lives in order to be accepted in the society. “This double life is dangerous and unfair to all concerned and the society at large. Lesbians, gays etc need to live their lives without fear of being stoned to death or portrayed as criminals'', he added.
But in the submission of Senate President, David Mark, '' the concept of same sex is offensive to Nigerian culture and tradition. There are enough men and women to marry each other. The whole idea is the importation of foreign culture but this one would be freedom too much. It’s offensive, it's repugnant. I will preach it and we must stand up to reject same sex in whatever form it presents itself in Nigeria'' he said
But, in Ghana, it seems their concern is more complicated. Apart from the fact that gay and lesbians are bound to be imprisoned by the law, homosexuals in Ghana have also been denied access to healthcare, while the hostile environment created for the gay community by the citizens of Ghana and Nigeria is quite unpalatable, and this act has spurred the reactions of human right activists like Nana Oyelatai, a lawyer, who expressed dissatisfaction over the discrimination of homosexuals, and the deny of their right to healthcare, specifically in Ghana.
In an interview with the Nigerian Tribune, she expressed her concern for change. ''It's a very difficult dilemma for us, as a country because we are talking about reducing HIV/AIDS, we also say ‘no’ to discrimination in the country, and we have a bill of right that regulates our lives.
Giving an example of what is happening to commercial sex workers, where healthcare services are still rendered to them irrespective of the fact that what they do is illegal. “So, basically, I think we should still be able to render some healthcare services to gays and lesbians irrespective of the fact that their sexual status is illegal, we cannot afford to leave them unprotected, but if we do, they would eventually contribute to the rise of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases in the country.”
Reacting to the fact that such development could encourage the practice of the act in a country where such is illegal, she said, ''I think it's time to respect the sexual orientation of certain people. Some people may see homosexuality as a dysfunction and some sees it as their sexual orientation. But as a country, which way do we want to go-because we have not addressed it as a country.
“We know that there's a homosexual community in this country, and we are not addressing it as a country, they still have a flourishing community. They have their social gatherings; drinking joints and so on, and they are not getting access to health, that's an indication of danger.''
Speaking about the suggestion made on revisiting the law, which could eventually bring a change to how homosexuals are perceived, and by extension give them access to basic human rights, she said ,'' At first, we as a country need to decide whether we want to recognise homosexuals in this country, but I will look at our law on discrimination.
“Another question is, would we be bold enough to adopt the South African model, where the right to sexual orientation is actually listed in the bill of rights?. Despite the fact that homosexuality is a crime in Ghana, I think gays and lesbians need access to healthcare services.
“So, we have to do some education because there is a lot of stigmatisation and blackmail going on, and this facilitates the practice going on -underground. And this is not too good for Ghana. We need to re-orientate people in order to remove the stigma attached to homosexuality, and to ensure that Ghana healthcare providers provide healthcare services to whosoever needs it, irrespective of that person’s sexual orientation. Once we start the dis-stigmatise process, we would be making progress as far as access to healthcare is concerned.'' she submitted.
In another interview with the leader of gay and lesbian group in Ghana, Prince Mc Donald, he relayed his regrets on being a gay citizen of Ghana '' The illegality of homosexuality makes me feel I am not a Ghanaian. That's one of the saddest things, because I keep hiding myself. I don't see myself being free anytime I am in Ghana, but I am always able to express myself (sexually) anytime outside the shores of Ghana. Though I hate traveling, I have no choice than to travel to a place where I am loved and accepted for who I am.”
Prince Mc Donald, speaking about the most pressing challenges of gays and lesbians in Ghana, said ''one of the most pressing issues is gays and lesbians are not given access to clinics where they could be treated. For example, if a gay has a sexually transmitted disease, then you visit the hospital for treatment, they would ask you to provide your partner, but the truth is, I am a man and it will be difficult for me to produce a man as my partner. So, most people in my shoes usually don't return to the hospital, they will rather ask a friend who has gone through same thing to give them the name of the drug they used.
''Another challenge is the stigma about the perception of the public about homosexuals it is not pleasant. A situation where everybody quotes Bible or Quran to justify the fact that it is evil. Personally, I have faced discriminations; though people call it discrimination but I call it the ignorance of the society,'' he added.
Though homosexuals are facing a suffocating situation in West Africa and many countries across the World, the question is, how can homosexuals be stopped without denying them their basic human rights?Share