ADDED ON: 07/29/2020

Nigeria’s queer history told by those who lived through it

07/28/2020 | VICE

When Goodluck Jonathan, the former president of Nigeria, passed a bill into law that criminalised any active part of gayness in January 2014, he was lauded by many in the country for being a custodian of Nigerian culture. By others, namely international human rights activists, he was criticised, his actions were seen as a destructive ploy to garner votes by appealing himself to the conservative majority in Nigeria. But, ironically, despite the overwhelming public support for the law, the deliberations and eventual signing of the bill were one of the first moments of actual LGBT+ recognition on a national level in Nigeria. Known as the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act (SSMPA), the law prohibits every aspect of LGBT+ existence and imposes strict sentences for acts and support of homosexuality — including the death penalty in some Shari’a states. As such, life for queer Nigerians became divided into two that day: before the SSMPA, and after the SSMPA. Because of this, in reportage of what it was like being a queer person in Nigeria, 2014 and the passage of the SSMPA is often quoted as a starting point for queer struggle in the country. Yet, while it may have been when homophobia within the country was legitimised and enshrined in law, it certainly wasn’t when queer culture in Nigeria began.

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