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Nigerian LGBTIQ+ community shares experiences of conversion practices

In a groundbreaking effort to shed light on the struggles faced by the LGBTIQ+ community in Nigeria, the Levites Initiative for Freedom & Enlightenment (LIFFE), a human rights organization based in Delta State’s capital, Asaba, has launched a comprehensive survey aimed at capturing and highlighting the experiences of individuals who have endured various forms of conversion practices.

By Mike Daemon

The survey, which was launched on August 2, 2023, hopes to create awareness about the harmful practices inflicted on the LGBTIQ+ community and foster understanding and empathy from the wider society. For LGBTIQ+ individuals in Nigeria, discrimination and stigmatization based on sexual orientation and gender identity are harsh realities.

Homosexuality remains criminalized in the country, and the social, cultural, and religious biases against the LGBTIQ+ community create a hostile environment where individuals face numerous challenges, including family rejection, employment discrimination, physical violence, and denial of access to healthcare and education. These adversities often force some individuals to seek so-called “conversion therapy” as a means to change their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Conversion therapy, also known as reparative therapy or gay conversion therapy, involves various harmful techniques aimed at changing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. These techniques can range from psychological counseling to more extreme and abusive measures, including physical abuse, exorcisms, and isolation.

This practice is widely condemned by medical and mental health organizations worldwide as it has no scientific basis, causes severe harm, and violates the fundamental human rights of LGBTIQ+ individuals.

In a recent statement, Samuel Uchenna, the Executive Director of LIFFE, expressed the motivation and potential impact of the survey. He stated, “Our mission with this survey is to amplify the voices of those who have suffered from conversion therapy and to bring attention to the dangerous effects of this practice. We believe that by sharing these stories, we can foster understanding and empathy, and drive meaningful change in society, pushing for the protection and recognition of LGBTIQ+ rights in Nigeria.”

The survey, accessible through LIFFE’s website, aims to gather personal testimonies and experiences from LGBTIQ+ individuals who have undergone various forms of conversion practices or have been affected by it indirectly.

By capturing these narratives, LIFFE intends to compile a comprehensive report that can be used as evidence to advocate for legal and policy changes to protect the rights of the LGBTIQ+ community in Nigeria.

The importance of this survey cannot be overstated, and it calls upon human rights activists, organizations, and stakeholders to rally behind this crucial initiative. By supporting and participating in the survey, advocates can contribute to creating a safer and more inclusive Nigeria for all, irrespective of sexual orientation or gender identity.

In conclusion, the launch of the LIFFE survey represents a pivotal moment for the LGBTIQ+ community in Nigeria. It is a powerful opportunity to expose the injustice and suffering experienced by those who have experienced various forms of conversion practices and to advocate for the recognition and protection of their human rights.

Together, as a collective force, we can bring about positive change and work towards a future where diversity is celebrated, and every individual can live freely and authentically.

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