By Isaac Asabor
If there is any move that was made by the President of the United States of America, Joe Biden, few weeks after his resumption of office at the White House that has been eliciting wide condemnation from opinion molders and analysts in the realm of international relations, it is his directive to American Embassy in Nigeria and other countries to push for the legalization of homosexuality in their respective countries of residence.
Biden gave the directive in a White House statement on Memorandum on Advancing the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Persons around the World.
The United States president said the memorandum reaffirms and supplements the principles established in the Presidential Memorandum of December 6, 2011 (International Initiatives to Advance the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Persons).
To my view, the directive would unarguably not yield Biden’s expected result in Nigeria as Nigeria is not America given the fact that it is a difficult place for homosexuals. Why is that?
First and foremost, there is a glaring evidence of incompatibility between the culture of the Americans and that of Nigerians in the area of same-sex marriage which Biden is somewhat vehemently pushing since his assumption of office.
Against the backdrop of the foregoing, permit me to express the view that the way of life of a typical American is diametrically opposed to that of a typical Nigerian.
To put the foregoing view in a crystal clear perspective, it is expedient to recall that in 2014 that the men of the Nigeria Police arrested 53 men on conspiracy charges as they tried to organize a gay wedding. Some of them faced up to 14 years in jail.
The suspects were arrested at a hotel in the northern city of Zaria, where they had allegedly gathered to celebrate the ceremony. All of the accused were between 20 and 30 years old. The couple who were being honored managed to escape, police said. The rest were charged with “belonging to a gang of unlawful society.”
It would be recalled that gay marriage is not only banned in Nigeria as former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2014 oversaw a raft of harsh anti-homosexual laws that make gay relationships punishable by between 10 and 14 years in prison. To be specific, President Goodluck Jonathan on January 7, 2014 signed Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act (SSMPA) which amongst others sanctions prescribes maximum of 14 years’ jail for defaulters.
Despite the harsh laws, many gay couples hold informal ceremonies with their loved ones. One of the most prominent cases came in January 2014, when 12 men were arrested and charged in the city of Bauchi. Violent protests broke out on the court steps with angry mobs demanding the men be put to death. The men were eventually released on bail or had their cases dropped.
In some Muslim regions of the country, which operate under de facto Sharia law, practicing homosexuality is a capital crime.
There is no denying the fact that from whichever dimension anyone would like to look at the ignominious practice of same-sex marriage from the eyes of a Nigerian that it would unarguably be seen as an oddity, anathema and taboo in the Nigerian cullture. This perception of ours is not in the least misconceived. Our perception is as a result of our God fearing attitude to life. Against the foregoing backdrop, it is expedient in this context to reiterate that Nigeria is not America.
To further buttress the fact that Nigeria is not America when it comes to same sex marriage, it is expedience to recall the 2007 Pew Global Attitudes Project, which reported that 97 percent of Nigerian residents believed that homosexuality is a way of life that society should not accept. The Report found Nigeria to be the second-highest rate of non-acceptance in the 45 countries surveyed. In the same vein, in 2015, a survey by an organization founded by a Nigerian homosexual activist based in London claimed this percentage decreased to 94%.
Without any iota of exaggeration, the foregoing abysmal statistics is unarguably an indication that Biden’s directive to American Embassy in Nigeria and other countries to push for the legalization of homosexuality in their respective countries of residence is what can in this context be seen as “Dead-On-Arrival” as Nigeria is not America.
At this juncture, it would be pertinent to say despite the misperception of Nigerians by some uninformed nationals of other countries that Nigerians do not practice sodomy. Nigerians believe that what is not good is not good. We do not pretend in doing things that are bad all in the name of civilisation. We are not culturally disposed to the practice of same-sex marriage.
In our traditional and modern societies, prospective marriage partners are traditionally screened by elderly relations, in most cases, carrying out their findings on the backgrounds of the families they came from before giving approval to marriages. With this, it is very obvious that the issue of matrimony is highly regarded in Nigerian societies.
In the community which this writer hails from, Igbanke to be specific, marriage is a family and communal affair. We do not just go ahead and start marrying, not to talk of getting married to a spouse of the same sex. Even as I am writing this piece, I am almost throwing up at the thought of the idea of same-sex marriage. It is nauseating and unheard of.
Besides cultural norms, it is highly held in the Christendom, as inherent in the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible which says in the book of Leviticus, chapter 20, verse 13, that “if a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.”
Also, the book of Genesis, chapter 2, verse 22, in King James Version (KJV), says ”And the rib, which the Lord God has taken away from man, made he a woman and brought her unto the man.
The key phrase in the foregoing scripture is “and brought her unto the man.” This was buttressed in verse 24 that says “Therefore, shall a man leave his father and his mother and shall cleave unto his wife and they shall be one flesh.
Still in the same nexus, in the Bible in the Book of Genesis, chapter 1, verse 27, it was written: God created man in his own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female, He created them. According to this scripture, God created a male and a female. In verse 28, He blessed them and made them husband and wife in His word that says “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.
From the Bible, it is very obvious that marriage is a man and woman affair and not the same-sex stuff. It is ironic that the Western world that brought Christianity to us are fast backsliding all in the name of fundamental human rights. Who will bell the cat?
Also, in Genesis, chapter 24, verses 12 to 15, Abraham prayed for God to bless Isaac with a wife. God immediately answered his prayer by revealing and sending Rebecca to him. God did not send a man to the servant for Isaac to marry. The old testament of the Bible is replete with similar instances.
Put in a more understandable way, same-sex marriage consummated in Nigeria, and by Nigerians is capable of offending the sensibilities of close and distant relations of the same-sex couples, apart from turning them into objects of ridicule, innuendoes and outright castigation in their immediate communities.
In the ancestral community of this writer, same-sex couples may automatically be ostracized or banished from the community. Also, it is potent enough to tear extended families apart as same-sex marriage is highly characterized with crises.
Suffice it to say that the cultural and Biblical references cited in this piece are conspicuously evident to prove that same-sex marriage is a taboo in its totality, it is detestable when viewed from our diverse culture and an abomination in Christendom.
Against the backdrop of the foregoing view, it is expedient to conclude this piece by reiterating once again to say that “Nigeria Is Not America” when it comes to same-sex marriage.