LGBT rights activist, Bisi Alimi, moves against TIERs (The Initiative for Equal Rights) for short listing Reuben Abati to speak at an upcoming human rights event.
TIERs a leading human rights organization advocating for the rights of LGBT persons in Nigeria, is organizing its second edition of the event, ‘Human Rights, Sexuality and the law’ which has been scheduled to take place on the 14th of December, at Fours Points by Sharaton, Oniru Victoria Island.
Read below what Bisi wrote.
When I started LGBT activism, I never thought that the day will come I will be fighting against some members of the community.
When in 2005, in my one-bed apartment in Jakande Estate Isolo, I started TIER with a group of friends, I never thought the day will come I will be standing and opposing an idea from that organisation.
This is personal for me. To those who are interested in and care about history, ask anyone who is ready to tell you the truth, about the birth of TIER.
Today, this organisation has grown and has become a force to be reckoned with in Nigeria for the promotion of LGBT people.
But also today, for the argument of reaching out to the other side, this organisation is telling the oppressed LGBT people in Nigeria to “go fuck themselves”.
The idea that Ruben Abati, a crony of Jonathan and the person with the responsibility to defend the signing of the SSMPA will be giving a keynote speech at an event organised by TIER (an LGBT) organisation is an affront of the highest order.
Maybe we forget, and I will be happy to remind;
1- Immediately after the law was signed in secrecy by Jonathan, Abati was on both local and international media defending the law and calling it “what is necessary to protect our children from the evils of homosexuality”. I was on the television panel with him and Rasheed Williams, where he said homosexuals are paedophiles. Williams felt so attacked, he was crying on television.
2- Also immediately after the law was signed, 12 gay men were attacked in Abuja, their home raised, their properties destroyed and they were left dehumanised.
3- Not long after the law, the 9 men in northern Nigeria were arranged before a sharia court for homosexual allegations.
4- A lot of LGBT people in Nigeria have been attacked, blackmailed, terrorised and left homeless because Jonathan legalised bigotry and Ababti defended it.
So, you will see why, today, I am left heartbroken, disillusioned and weak to hear that the foremost LGBT organisation in Nigeria will be giving the same Abati a platform to speak as a keynote speaker at the biggest event on the Nigeria LGBT calendar.
This issue is personal for me, personal because;
1- TIER is a community organisation, that was the ethos behind its formation
2- Abati is a bigot, an oppressor and it is not the place of the oppressed to listen to the oppressor on why he/she is oppressing them.
3- That this event is a slap not just on the faces of vulnerable, helpless and homeless LGBT people that lived the reality of Jonathan’s law every day of their lives. The ones that are not shielded in their fancy apartment in Lekki, Epe, Ikeja or Igando.
4- That this event is like dancing on the grave of LGBT people that have committed suicide, died from AIDS or hate because Abati and Jonathan think they are not fit for purpose or are less human.
I will not give up, that is not why I have been doing this job for all my adult life. I will not give up speaking up for the vulnerable, the men and women who live in constant fear of their lives every day.
It is time for the LGBT community in Nigeria stood up, challenge TIER and demand that Abati should be dropped from this event.
There are many Nigerians who can speak on this issue if the excuse is not to call a member of the community to come give the talk. I can name
1- Seun Kuti
2- Funmi Iyanda
5- Lola Shoneyin
I can go on and on.
We should not sit back and allow this to happen. The organisers are feeling the heat already and we can make them change their mind or take back our space.
This space has to be free and safe from the ruins of “Stupid black men”.
So given Bisi’s concerns, do you still think that Abati should be given a chance to speak at the upcoming human rights event organized by TIERs? Leave your comments below.
If you will be attending the event, REGISTER HERE.Have something to share? Ready to tell your story? Contact us.