June is Pride Month! It’s a time for LGBTQ+ individuals and allies to celebrate each other and the huge strides that have been made around the world toward social acceptance and equal treatment under the law. However, sexuality is still a sensitive topic. A lot of people aren’t comfortable talking about it, and many aren’t open or understanding when it comes to LGBTQ+ issues. So, we thought it would be helpful to take a moment to share some basic information. Whether you’re queer, questioning, know someone who is, or just want to learn more, scroll down to learn about the LGBTQ+ resources available to you!
While scientists don’t know exactly what makes someone LGBTQ+, you should know that they do agree that sexual orientation isn’t a choice. Genes, hormones, and a mother’s womb all contribute to a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity. Put simply: you’re born with it. Which also means that a straight person can’t turn gay, and a gay person can’t turn straight.
A lack of social acceptance and fewer legal protections means LGBTQ+ people suffer from more health issues than people who don’t identify as LGBTQ+. For example, they’re more likely to feel depressed and have thoughts of suicide. They’re also less likely to seek out health care, and have less access to important health information and services. That’s why, if you’re LGBTQ+, it’s important to know what LGBTQ+-friendly resources are available where you live. Because you deserve the help you need, when you need it!
The Law in Nigeria
Homosexuals can serve in the military
Same-sex marriage and same-sex civil union is illegal*
Witnessing, abetting, or aiding a same-sex marriage or civil union is illegal and punishable by imprisonment
Same-sex marriage in other countries is not legally recognized
Consensual, same-sex public displays of affection are illegal
Consensual, same-sex sexual activity (public or private) is illegal
Consensual sex acts between men are punishable by death
Consensual sex acts between women are punishable by whipping and/or imprisonment
Discussing LGBT rights is illegal
Identifying as or expressing the identity of a gender other than the one assigned at birth is illegal
Changing gender on identification documents is not legal
Registering, operating, or participating in gay clubs, societies, and organizations is illegal and punishable by imprisonment
Supporting a club, society, or organization like those described above is illegal and punishable by imprisonment
There are no legal protections against LGBTQ+ discrimination
*a civil union can include any arrangement between persons of the same sex that live together
Get Help & Learn More
Marie Stopes Nigeria: Marie Stopes is an international organization that provides reproductive health and family planning services across Nigeria. While not strictly an LGBTQ+ organization, LGBTQ+ individuals might benefit from some of its sexual and reproductive health services.
Men Engage Alliance: An international organization working with men and boys for gender equality. While not strictly an LGBTQ+ organization, it does work in the areas of gender equality, women’s empowerment, HIV/AIDS, and sexual and reproductive health and rights; LGBTQ+ individuals might find some of the information and services they provide helpful.
The Queer African Youth Network (QAYN): A queer and feminist organization aiming to establish an extensive support network to promote the wellbeing and safety of LGTBQ+ people in West Africa. While not strictly operating in Nigeria, LGBTQ+ Nigerians might find their information, videos, and resources helpful. Their magazine, Q-zine, is available online in English and French.
The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERs): A Nigeria-based organization working to create a society where human rights are guaranteed regardless of status, identity, orientation or affiliation. While not explicitly an LGBTQ+ organization, they seek to protect, uphold, and promote the rights and humanity of all Nigerians through advocacy, empowerment, education, and the provision of safe platforms of convergence.
Do you know of any other LGBTQ+ resources, communities, or events in West Africa? Share them with us in the comment section below! And, if you have other questions about sex, STIs, and contraception, remember you can chat with Nivi on WhatsApp any time. It’s private, confidential, and free!