WHER celebrates International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia in Nigeria

 IDAHOT - right size

The focus of IDAHOT this year is on LGBTQI Youth. FRIDA Grantee Partner, Women’s Equal Health and Rights (WHER) Initiative in Nigeria, is organizing around the theme “speaking louder than the silence.” Their event provides a platform for five young sexual minority women to share their lived experiences as young sexual minorities living in Nigeria and how they navigate Nigerian society.  The event will also include a screening of the movie PRIDE, a 2014 British LGBT-related historical comedy-drama film written by Stephen Beresford and directed by Matthew Warchus. Based on a true story, the film depicts a group of lesbian and gay activists who raised money to help families affected by the British miners’ strike in 1984, at the outset of what would become the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners campaign.

On May 17th, WHER released the following statement:

Abuja, 17th May, 2015 

Today being the 17th of May, 2015 Women’s Health and Equal Rights Initiative joins hands with other LGBTI organizations, Individuals, Allies all around the world to commemorate the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT). This historical day marks 25 years since the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. LGBTI people in more than 78 countries, where there still exist homophobic laws and policies, are still regarded as abnormal, mentally deranged and immoral people.

Nigeria is signatory to numerous international human rights instruments including the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child etc. and has also enshrined human rights principles in its constitution (chapter IV of the Nigerian Constitution), yet there continues to be a high level of social injustice and violations of the fundamental human rights of vulnerable groups especially women, children, and sexual/gender minorities. The passage of the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act 2014 has further fueled stigma, discrimination and violence against LGBTI people in Nigeria.

This toxic situation is worse for young LGBTI people who are still sheltered and dependent on their families for their daily subsistence. They live in isolation with no one to talk to about having feelings contrary to the supposed natural order of things. They live in constant fear of detection and are pressured to conform to heterosexual behaviours. Homophobic laws shield perpetrators of physical, mental and emotional harm against LGBTI people. We call on the Nigerian government to fulfill its obligations to promote and protect the human rights of all persons without discrimination, We call all civil society organizations to join hands with LGBTI organizations to fight against all forms of discrimination; and we call on all LGBTI people in Nigeria to remember that “you have the same human rights as everyone else in the world, because you are a human being. These rights cannot be taken away from you. Everybody, no matter who they are or where they live, should be treated with dignity. You should not be treated differently, nor have your rights taken away, because of your race, colour, sex, language, religion or political opinions. Your basic rights should be respected no matter what country you are born in or how rich or poor you are” (Articles 1 & 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights).

We have rights so let us live them!

Akudo Oguaghamba

Executive Director

Women’s Health and Equal Rights (WHER) Initiative, Nigeria