Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Ayo Sogunro - Homophobic rhetoric and Nigeria’s culture of violence

(Ayo Sogunro) -- Sometime in May 2015, in Abuloma, Port Harcourt, a man named Charles was harassed, beaten, and robbed by his neighbourhood security watch. What was his crime?  He was perceived to be homosexual. When he reported this incident to the police, he was advised to leave the area if he wanted to avoid future ‘embarrassment’.

In June of that same year, another man, Tare, was abducted by four men in Woji, also in Port Harcourt. The men claimed to be members of the neighbourhood security and they suspected Tare was a gay man. They beat him before releasing him in exchange for the names of other gay men in the neighbourhood. Tare provided them with fake names even though the men had threatened to murder him if he lied. To avoid this threat, Tare had to relocate from the area.

A similar incident occurred in June 2015, this time in Apapa, Lagos. A young man named Caleb was stopped by a group of men on his way back from work. The men wanted to know if Caleb was a man or a woman because, they claimed, he was walking and behaving ‘like a girl’ – whatever this may mean. The men beat Caleb, robbed him, and warned him against ‘walking or acting like a girl’ or risk being attacked again by them. Caleb’s friends and family advised him to move from the area.