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‘The right to choose your own sexuality is a human right’

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(Pic: Reuters)

(Pic: Reuters)

In the wake of the recently passed “anti-gay” law by the Nigerian government and President Goodluck Jonathan, there has been much speculation online as to how Fela Kuti, my father, would react. So let us get this clear, and I will also express my own views on the matter.

My father would not support this law. He would know why the law was passed: as a way of distracting the population from the main problems we face today – poverty, lack of electricity and services, corruption, mismanagement, and so on and so forth.

That being said, Fela may have had some reservations about homosexuality itself. Who is to say? No one can speak for him. But Fela would not have had any reservations about upholding and protecting basic human rights. The right to choose your own sexuality and sexual behavior – as long as it is between consenting adults – is one such human right.

It’s a difficult topic for a lot of people in Nigeria to understand as it’s a very new issue that has never been quite public. Our culture and traditions and certain religious values make it more difficult for many to accept or understand, and it will take some time for those people to learn to respect the fundamental human rights of others to express themselves freely. People have said that being gay is “un-African” – I’m not an expert on our history, but I don’t know of any [instance] where the topic is mentioned in our history (I am not referring to Christian orthodoxy that was brought by non-African missionaries).

The gay community in Nigeria will have to be patient and realise acceptance of homosexuality is a gradual process which will take a very long time – especially in the north of Nigeria. But they must slowly put their case forward. They will need a lot of diplomatic support, and they will have to fight the law. They might definitely lose, but they will just have to keep on fighting for their fundamental right to live. There is no other choice.

We have to keep talking about the issue of gay rights, but it’s the government’s responsibility to take the lead to defend people’s fundamental rights. Citizens must have the right to be who they want to be.

Femi Kuti for okayafrica, a blog dedicated to bringing you the latest from Africa‘s New Wave.

 

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4 Responses to “‘The right to choose your own sexuality is a human right’”

  1. The very title of this article is terrible incorrect. Nobody chooses, has chosen or will ever choose a sexual orientation. Ask any homosexual person first and then you can write about the topic. My personal experience, as that of anyone, is to become aware of same-sex attractions during my early adolescence, not opting for it as between chocolate or vanilla ice cream. Nobody would choose a life of bullying, jokes, taunts, segregation and even physical punishment and death threats as in the case of Africa.

    March 31, 2014 at 3:46 am Reply
  2. Sallas #

    This hate must come to an end now! When will Africans learn? Persecution, battering and banishment of gay people will not make homosexuality disappear!

    February 27, 2014 at 3:05 pm Reply
  3. Innotash #

    It is sad how people can be quick to say that being homosexual is wrong, when there are a lot of things that were openly mentioned in the Bible but have just been ignored. Look into Exodus 20, the 10 commandments, on daily basis we sin according to those commandments but no death penalty has been ruled against that. Yet, it is easy for Kings,Presidents and parents to rule against homosexuality. What wrong have homosexual people done to deserve such terrible punishment? So many people look at South Africa and think that we are fortunate since homosexuality is not penalized. We live in the streets whereby being homosexual is not acceptable. Where even the head of state has said it in not so many words and shown in not so many ways that they approve homosexuality. Yes all we have is the constitution, which ofcos can be ammended at any time. We have seen so many corrective rape cases being left unresolved. We have experienced the streets which has treated us with so much cruelty. We have been to Police Stations were you were not even allowed to open a case of physical, emotional abuse againsts fellow citizens, were such cases are treated as jokes. We have a long way to go as a continent.

    February 26, 2014 at 12:55 pm Reply
  4. My opinion on this subject is, you are born this way, and since time in mamorial homosexualty has been around, even KING DAVID had these tendencies. So if you are born this way it was meant to be. LIVE AND LET LIVE!!!!!

    February 26, 2014 at 12:22 pm Reply

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