Tuesday 14 January 2014

Nigeria: Arrest Him! He's Homosexual!

The sketch
Alice More (Wife): Arrest him!
Sir Thomas More (England's Lord High Chancellor): For what?
Alice More: He's dangerous!
William Roper (Son-in-law): For all we know he's a spy!
Margaret More (Daughter): Father, that man's bad!
Sir Thomas: There's no law against that!
William Roper: There is God's law!
Sir Thomas: Then let God arrest him!
Alice More: While you talk he's gone!
Sir Thomas: And go he should, if he were the Devil himself, until he broke the law.
William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
Sir Thomas: Yes!
Sir Thomas: What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
William Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!
Sir Thomas: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat?
Sir Thomas: This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down (and you're just the man to do it!), do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?
Sir Thomas: Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
Sketch from A Man For All Seasons about Sir Thomas More from What Delicate Balance? by John Loeffler.
Signed in silence
I watched on social media yesterday as word got round that the President of Nigeria had signed into law the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill (SSMPB) which had wide ranging powers to persecute and prosecute Nigerian citizen homosexuals and their sympathisers with threats of jail sentences of up to 14 years. [The Nation] [Wikipedia] [SSMPB (PDF)]
There is no point dwelling on the minutiae of that law, because there is a wider issue at play that we fail to recognise can be the unintended consequence of this type of law.
At no time was Nigeria under the threat of sweeping homosexual matrimony invading the sanctity of temple or place of worship for solemnisation, the majority of the population is well schooled in the revulsion of homosexuality from a sexual perspective, that they would willingly gather in mobs to lynch in the name of whatever deity they worship to mete out just justice without repercussion.
Stones in hand
At tip of the tongue and with means to act, they have chapter and verse from any religious tome of your choosing to commit the homosexual instantly to the abyss of infernal perdition. We need no encouragement in what is innately our natural disposition.
Homosexuals in Nigeria have no pride marches, society takes no pride in them, the family can’t have pride for them and in essence the person so afflicted in the minds of the assailant is not proud of who they are. They are stuck in labyrinthic closets or acquiescing to societal pressures fulfilling the rites of passage of marriage whilst satisfying a deeper need on the down low.
Yet, we have a law for what does not exist, which can never get popular and has little chance in this generation of becoming acceptable, in our statute books. An exercise in legislative indolence signed off to the hysterical mesmerisation of the people who think this is the best thing the government ever did.
Now they've come
They have come for the homosexual with the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill and because many are not homosexual they like the crowd that gathered at the trial of Jesus before Pontius Pilate have been excited by the leaders to cry out loud until they are hoarse – Crucify them!
One cannot be oblivious of history, for the persecution of the minority, the different, the castigated, the powerless and the other has allowed tyranny to lay hold until there is none to stand true for justice.
The words of Martin Niemöller come to mind in all its contexts and ramifications and for this piece, may I prefix it without necessarily changing the whole premise to the Nigerian setting, because there would be people to eventually fill those cadres of offence when sufficient momentum is gained for a new moral law on dressing, on sayings, on actions and much else, in what is becoming a sham of a democracy.
First they came for the Gays, and I did not speak out—because I was not gay.
Then they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
No business of the state
For the state has deviated from civil law to moral codes as much of the debate that fuelled support for this law had nothing to do with civil coexistence of the diversity of humanity and human nature, but some selective affinity to Mosaic rules designed specifically to differentiate the Israelites of the times of Exodus from other tribes. I digress on this essential matter of conscience above all else.
Where this becomes a problem is whilst in general, we have agreement amongst religious beliefs, we have no consonance of systems of worship and essentially do not believe the same.
For each person to their level of adherence can decide that they subscribe to their understanding of God’s law to do whatever they will or think is God’s mind about issues, even if others do not so subscribe to that system of beliefs or believe in any of that stuff. Yes, to some, stuff is article of faith and to others, it is just stuff.
Thinking for ourselves
When a man suggests he is only answerable to God or his religion, the state loses the power to provide the impartiality of justice to all its citizenry. For God’s law when taken to the street imposes sanction without appeal, empowering abuse without redress, yet self-justifies the presumably self-appointed custodians of those laws.
This was well argued in the submission of Lord Justice Laws on the issue of separation of religion and state.
“The law of a theocracy is dictated without option to the people, not made by their judges and governments. The individual conscience is free to accept such dictated law, but the state, if its people are to be free, has the burdensome duty of thinking for itself.”
In other words, these laws whilst appearing to be founded on firm moral principle, they offer no protections for the people in a democracy when they are caught on the wrong side of it, either by reason of being criminalised or by the abuse of process to persecute the innocent.
Arrest him, he’s homosexual
This takes us back to the sketch at the beginning of this blog on the use of the law, the misuse of the law and the abuse of authority.
The Lord High Chancellor had his family appeal to his sentiment to arrest a man because he was dangerous, and in terms, the homosexual in Nigeria is deemed dangerous not for anything that affects us personally, but for the satisfaction of our moral sentiments.
And by God’s law in the arguments proffered when debating the bill in the legislature, we have created something to ensnare people by criminalising the bedroom of others who do not subscribe to what is our norm or our normality.
In the voices of Margaret More, Alice More and William Roper, we seek to persecute, prosecute, impugn, damage and criminalise deploying every fallacy available to justify our stance (against everything different, unusual, misunderstood, reviled, especially homosexuality), by appealing to every sentiment to suborn the objective assessment of the facts, but there stands amongst us a Sir Thomas More.
This is a very bad law
He brings down every fallacy from hysteria to tradition, upholding the primacy of man’s law and its purpose for justice and fairness to all. For our wider humanity which easily finds ways to exacerbate difference and punish the same is better served in finding unity of purpose, in according fundamental human rights to each existence, to every expression and to the pursuit of happiness.
The Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill whichever way you want to look at it is a bad law, it is odious, inhuman, unconscionable, contemptible and celebratory of the worst of our human expression in the name of some presumed morality – the fight for its repeal has begun.
Every Nigerian homosexual in the 21st Century should have a right to exist and thrive in their own country, fulfilling their potential without hindrance of the state through the criminalisation of who they are.
For all the sentiment we might have about what is the reason for homosexuality, science and psychology has gone beyond that to prove it is natural, sticking to the age-old religious acceptance that the earth is flat does not change the scientific fact that the earth is round, and it is the earth that revolves around the sun rotating on its axis to make night and day. 
I stand for the diversity of humanity expression, the protection of the rights of all, similar, different, powerless, powerful, heterosexual, asexual, celibate and homosexual, old and young, the many and the few. Repeal the law!

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