Meet the Dog that has more legal rights than a Gay person in Nigeria

2015-04-01 11:36

Meet Bob the celeb dog on SABC3’S morning show, Expresso. If Bob were to migrate to Nigeria, he would enjoy some legal protections such as having the right not to be made to suffer. Bob would be free to go play with other dogs and do whatever it is dogs like to do when they gather.

If you caused Bob any undue suffering, wilfully harmed him, you would be committing a criminal offence and could possibly go to jail for about six months. So Bob must be free to live the life that feels most natural for him, anyone who prevents Bob from doing so, the Nigerian government would be legally compelled to take action to ensure Bob enjoys his legal protections and ‘punish’ whomever undermined Bob’s rights.

Now meet a Nigerian national Mr Bisi Alimi, who unlike Bob does not enjoy such legal protections. In fact in Nigeria, it is illegal for him to be himself. This is because Nigerian Laws make it illegal for a man to fall in love with another man. He would be jailed if he loved another man, had sex with another man, or organised gatherings with other gay people.

Nigeria is not the first and only country to have such laws. Many other African countries have such laws, over 30 countries in Africa. The punishment for such “violation” ranges from 5 years in prison to the death penalty.

Although it is unclear which country’s courts have ordered the killing of a person for being attracted to people of the same-sex, we know that many gay people have been murdered for being gay, even in our very own South Africa where the laws actually prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. It unimaginable what goes on in the countries where you are not only oppressed through social opinion but through law.

Most of those who feel that homosexuals deserve such oppression hide behind the name of God. It is a shame that God’s name continues to be used to commit atrocities against humanity throughout the world. I cannot recall ever reading a scripture where God appointed himself deputies who would carry out his duties while he chills wherever he is chillin. Many believers somehow hold that they have some divine right to play God by judging others, and make the mistake of thinking that whatever they believe in applies to everyone.

But should there be a difference between the rights people enjoy and animals? Some ecologists will argue that even animals should be given the constitutional right to life, that they are entitled to the right to equality. So in a perfect world, both Bob the dog and Bisi Alimi the gay man would enjoy the same legal protections.

The problem with this proposition is that most human beings in this world believe that they are entitled to impose their will on animals and other people. You say let’s give animals the right to life, someone like me will say: stay away from my bacon. Then you say let other people be. Do not bother anyone else, just live your life. Someone may start imposing their will and say gay people should not even exist, it’s disgusting, cannot be allowed to do this and that.

This is the fundamental problem in societies beyond Nigeria. Somehow people believe they have the right to allow and not to allow other beings to be. This has been the problem before the birth of the messiah. The struggle against the imposition of custom continues.

I so wish I could bring a child into this world, teach them to love and appreciate every single one of the millions of species known to mankind instead of teaching them to hate anything and anyone that is, or is perceived to be different. If only every parent would do the same.

For now, Bob the dog will continue to enjoy many freedoms and legal protections in almost every country in the world, but Bisi the gay man faces undue legal and/or social oppression in many parts of the world including my very own beloved South Africa.

The liberal solution to this problem is of course individual freedom. Every man and women free to be, freedom of thought, taste, belief, association, equality, and so on. But even this is not enough as South Africa has many of those formal rights and yet homosexuals still face social oppression.

Thus social enlightnment might be the first step. Educating the ignorance and punishing those who willfully prevent others from living the life that feels most natural to them. Challenging the imposition of custom needs more than just laws, it requires the changing of social attitudes. Bisi's first struggle in Nigeria is protesting for the formal rights maany gay South Africans enjoy.

And with Nigeria having replaced Goodluck Jonathan with the Islam devotee Buhari, his struggle will not end anytime soon. Chances of constitutional reform are very low as many states in Nigeria actually have Sharia law imposing death by stoning on homosexuals.

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