Dolapo Badmos, Chief Superintendent and spokeswoman for the Lagos State Police Command, warned the homosexual community in Nigeria to leave the country or face potential criminal prosecution in a recent Instagram post. “If you’re homosexually inclined, Nigeria is not a place for you,” Badmos remarked, going even further to bring up the Same-Sex Prohibition Act in Nigeria that criminalizes homosexual clubs, associations, and organizations with penalties of up to 14 years in jail. In addition, the bill calls for a five-years imprisonment for anyone who undergoes or helps to facilitate a same-sex marriage. It also prohibits any public display of a same-sex relationship and adoption of children by homosexual couples. In essence, it aims to eradicate any association with homosexuality in the nation.
Her remark succeeded in stirring similar homophobic sentiments, as reflected in the hoards of comments under her post echoing the denouncement of homosexuality and the condemnation of homosexuals.
Why is this significant?
Nigeria, like many African countries, suffers from rampant homophobia. More than half of the countries in the continent have laws that outright criminalise homosexuality, in some instances even punishing the behaviour with death.
When the Same-Sex Prohibition Act passed in early 2007, it was met with an overwhelming outburst of support from the large majority of Nigerians, reflecting a clear disregard of homosexual rights as a fundamental human rights issue. In spite of wide global condemnation by human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, there seem to be no signs of the bill being repealed. However, a recent survey carried out by NOIPolls revealed a slight improvement in the acceptance of LGBT people amongst the Nigerian population. Considering the government’s staunch stance against homosexuality, it is unknown if the LGBT community will see an end to their discrimination.