After the responses a post on my Facebook wall on gay rights in Nigeria had generated recently, I decided to publish it on my blog. This is not uninformed by the ongoing debate on this issue, with reactions and counter-reactions. Reprinted below is what represents my personal opinion about the gay issue. For my fans and followers who had love to see this in verse, I guess you will have to wait a little longer!
All these war of words between the pro-gay and the anti-gay! The pro-gay advocates that gay right is human rights, and in a democratic society, it must be protected and recognised. On their part, they have a point to the extent that to criminalise gay practise and marriage is to deny gays the right to private and family life. Be it a sexual or marital relationship between men; or one between women. They have also said that gay practice is a private matter which the state should not be concerned with, thus criminalising it is wrong. And the US is a ready example as to how modern Nigeria should be like.
On the other hand, we have those who are against it. On their part, they rest their argument mainly on morality. Gay practice is against nature and even God’s commandments, they say. Embracing it is a rebellion against God. It is a sin. It is unholy and unclean. It is indecent and immoral. God turned against Sodom and Gomorrah for this same reason, they say. And many more equally believe it is un-African. Against our culture. Although homosexualism may have been practised by some African cultures, those against it believe that it would be a sweeping generalisation to conclude that this is common with all cultures in Africa.
While the pro-gay think the other side is just being uncivil and hypocritic, the anti-gay say the pro-gay is a victim of western influence who is to be sympathised with.
My problem is this, there is so much display of intolerance on both sides of the divide. It’s just too intolerant of us all degenerating into something less ourselves. Let’s demonstrate some appreciable level of tolerance and understanding.
In every democratic society, there is no state religion. Although, the people in the state, mostly, have one religion or the other. But the state is not to adopt any. The consequence of this is that no matter how good or moral or holy a religious tenet is, the state cannot adopt it as being generally applicable to all.
In the workings of the state, morality is relative. It is not universally accepted. What is morally wrong in a particular place may not be morally wrong in another. The law enforces morality, but not all aspects of morality. There is no law, for instance, against disrespecting one’s parents, yet it is immoral in many cultures. As the state grows, it however begins to accommodate certain things which hitherto were seen as unacceptable, but not without certain restrictions to at least balance private rights with public morality. There is nothing wrong with some states in the US legalising gay marriage, if the democratic culture and times favour it. The state, ideally, should have no God, otherwise it risks adopting a religion. The state is seen as a creation of law, not of God, and the law a creation of consensus, not itself. That’s the stage these countries have reached. To have more freedom, they must necessarily kill the idea of God-religion. Human freedom dictates at all times. But the question is: as Nigerians, have we gotten to that stage where we can kill our God-religion, our various cultural moralities, our Christian, Islamic and traditional beliefs, and embrace the full evolution of human rights in both our private and public life?
It needs no answer. If we were ready, there wouldn’t have been a louder noise against it in the country. And there is nothing morally wrong or right about the GEJ administration signing into law a bill against gay marriage and gay rights. It is a matter of the relativity of morality. And in Nigeria, not the US, the democratic culture is yet to mature to the same level as that which operates in the west. Also, the time is not ripe, just as the time was not ripe in the US some years ago.
Morality is relative, just as opinions are divergent. The Nigerian jurisdiction is simply not ready to embrace it. Yet. It doesn’t mean Nigerians are uncivil, undemocratic, hypocritic or ‘uneducated’. It is just a matter of time and place.