THE UK gay charity, The Pink Triangle Trust which publishes the quarterly online magazine, The Pink Humanist, announced today that Nigerian-born human rights campaigner Yemisi Ilesanmi, has become a patron of the Trust. She is the author of Freedom to love all: Homosexuality is not Un-African, which is available for purchase on Amazon.
There she was quoted as saying:
I am a passionate human rights activist, trade unionist, poet, and advocate for equal rights, social justice and poverty alleviation. I hold a Master of Law degree in Gender, Sexuality and Human Rights. I write and speak on a range of issues including workers rights, gender and sexuality issues.
I coordinate the group ‘Nigerian LGBTIs in Diaspora Against Anti Same-Sex Laws’. The group was formed in 2011 when the Nigerian Senate resuscitated interest in the homophobic bill entitled ‘Same Sex Marriage Prohibition’ bill, which seeks to criminalise not just same-sex marriage as the name implies, but also same sex relationship and activities including advocacy on LGBT rights or aiding and abetting anyone suspected of engaging in same-sex relationships.
It stipulates 14 years jail term for anyone who engages in same sex relationship and a 10-year jail term for anyone who aids, abets same sex persons, it also criminalises any advocacy on LGBT rights.
The ‘Jail the Gays’ bill personally affects me because I identify as a bisexual.
Being of a different sexual orientation is definitely difficult in a country like Nigeria, where hypocrisy seems to thrive. Many people are just happy for you to lie and deny something so central to your being just to be accepted.
If you choose to be open and honest about your sexual orientation, life can be difficult, but if you choose to be hypocritical about it or live in denial, life might be tolerable, depends on what makes life worth living for you.
I do know many bisexuals, lesbians and gays in Nigeria; some acknowledge this only to a selected few while many are in constant denial. Remember that same sex relationship is considered a criminal offence in Nigeria, until it is decriminalised, people cannot truly be who they are without fear of repercussions.
My boldness comes from my years of activism. I first got involved in activism during my undergraduate days in Nigeria. It was the mid-nineties and the military regime was in power. I was a student union leader, and many of us got suspended from school, arrested and detained so many times for protesting against the military regimes and their puppets in power in the education sector.
I inhaled teargas thrown at us by soldiers during protests, was beaten, harassed and dragged to state detention centers for daring to speak against military juntas.