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Qtalk: The app transforming the lives of LGBT people in Nigeria

In Nigeria, same-sex sexual activities are not only stigmatized but also criminalized, leading to an environment where LGBT individuals face pervasive discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.

By Mike Daemon

According to a comprehensive human rights violation report compiled by TIERs in 2022, an alarming 561 LGBT people endured grievous rights violations, including assault, blackmail, extortion, kidnapping, mob justice, and more.

Stock Photo for illustrative purposes only. (Source: Istockphoto)

This dire situation is exacerbated by the presence of punitive and discriminatory laws such as the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act (SSMPA) and penal codes, which mandate imprisonment for various homosexual activities. Consequently, physical gatherings among peers have become increasingly challenging, and accessing basic healthcare and legal support has become a formidable task.

In response to these challenges, many LGBT individuals have turned to online platforms, though not without their own set of problems. Homophobes lurk in these digital spaces, targeting and luring unsuspecting LGBT individuals into harmful situations. Unfortunately, the safety of LGBT people remains compromised both online and offline.

Recognizing the dire need for a secure virtual space, Qtalk emerged as a beacon of hope. Launched in 2019 by NoStrings Development Initiatives, an LGBT-led media advocacy group in Nigeria, Qtalk is an innovative mobile app designed to serve as a social and counseling platform for LGBT individuals.

With a rapidly growing user base exceeding 2000, Qtalk empowers LGBTIQ+ people to interact anonymously and access invaluable support from qualified professionals, including doctors, lawyers, and therapists, who offer their services completely free of charge.

The impact of Qtalk on the lives of LGBT individuals in Nigeria is significant and transformative. Users praise the app for facilitating lasting connections and providing access to crucial services.

One user shared, “I made a friend from this app back in 2020. We still talk till today.”

Another user expressed their gratitude, saying, “In 2019 when I was battling with an infection that I was so ashamed to show anyone, I got a prescription after consulting with a doctor on the app. He was so professional and showed no bias. After I took the medication as instructed, the symptoms all went away completely. Qtalk saved me from that embarrassment.”

Bolstered by these achievements, it became apparent that the need to expand was pressing. An evaluation of the app, coupled with user feedback, highlighted the necessity of developing an iOS version. This decision was finalized in 2022, and with the generous financial support of the Saint Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, a US-based charity, the app was relaunched in 2023, featuring enhanced capabilities.

Reflecting on the app’s relaunch, the Executive Director of NoStrings expressed deep aspirations and gratitude, stating, “To me, this is more than just an app or an initiative. This is a dream come true. With the number of successes we have recorded since our first launch in 2019, I can confidently say that this is truly life-saving. My sincere hope now is that we can build on these successes and continue to provide my community with the support it undoubtedly deserves. I am genuinely grateful for the opportunity and eagerly anticipate collaborating with those who believe in this dream.”

For those interested in downloading the app, Qtalk is accessible here.

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