Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Nigeria LGBT Community Excited As Charly Boy Declares Support



By Funso Kairah

There has been excitement among the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community in Nigeria following the declaration by popular singer and social activist, Charles Oputa, popularly known as Charly Boy, to fight for the rights of people involved in same-sex relationships.

The development came recently following his daughter’s coming out of the closet to declare her sexual orientation. Dewy Oputa, the United States based daughter of Charly Boy recently came out as a Lesbian and also showed off her lesbian partner. Charly Boy stated his support in a social media post in which he says he has in time past fought for Okada riders, Musicians and many others and that now is the time for him to fight for the LGBT community in Nigeria. In an Instagram post Charly Boy wrote, “All that I have done for over 50yrs of my life is to root for the underdogs.

I turned my back on my gold-plated pedigree and wondered into the unknown. I discovered that victory is a million times sweeter as an underdog. Oh!!!!! Yes,” he said. He continued, “My life has been one big fight, against bad habits, poverty, hopelessness and principalities. But I never backed down. I battled for the rights of the Okada’s to make a living.

I battled for the rights, respect and the big money for the Nigerian Musician, spent weeks in the police cell, as a PMAN President. Today, thank God they have a better life. Now I am the President of Frustrated Nigerians. “I am battling with my comrades to stop the senseless killings of Nigerians. The oppression of innocent Nigerians and the weaponization of hunger. Many battles too many to mention. I have been beaten black and blue by the military, police, security agents, been teargased, shot at, stoned and most time misunderstood even by the people I fight for.

No big deal because I never back down. Now I reactivate my fight in defence of the LGBT community. You know something? Openness may not completely disarm prejudice but is a good place to start. I am hoping that my support will be a show of strength to the Nigerian LGBT community. ” Nigeria has a law against same sex relationship which stipulates penalties of up to 14 years in prison and bans gay marriages which it describes as amorous relationships as well as categorizing it as illegal any membership of gay rights groups or any kind of support that will promote LGBT activities in the country forcing so many gay people who have been living in underground existence to either leave the country or remain in the closet.

 Many members of the Nigeria LGBT community welcomed the development saying the entrance of the famed activist will help the process of acceptance for the sexual orientations of people. Osemwengie Pedro, a Nigerian gay, who had to leave the country after the Nigeria government passed a law outlawing same-sex relationships in 2014 said that Charly Boy should be commended for coming out to stand for the gay community who face persecution, imprisonment and death in the country. “I ran away from my country because of my orientation I'm one of the numerous person persecuted for being gay and being gay was never my making I was born and this is who am,” the 34-year-old Edo State indigene said.

He urged other activists to emulate Charly Boy and fight for the rights of people who are looked at indifferently due to their sexual orientation. Another Nigeria gay man, Tochukwu Iroekwe, described the decision made by Charly boy to be one step in the long race to achieving a Nigeria free of persecution of people of different sexual orientation.

 Speaking from Germany, Iroekwe said “Nigerians need to understand that focusing on people with a different sexual orientation with a mind-set to kill them isn’t the best approach. They should try and advocate for them and understand that this is how we are,” he said. He recalled how he escaped death by the whiskers in Kano State where he was almost killed through a mob action when he was discovered with his partner. “

It was like a movie, I was with my friend when they barged in and started beating us with all manner of weapons. I had to run for my life when I saw that the people were ready to kill us. I later heard my partner, Chidiebere Kenechukwu lost his life. I had to hide and when the Sharia police started looking for me, my brother helped me with securing a visa to flee from the country,” he said, “I am happy Charly Boy had decided to stand up for us.” Kingsley Odumene, a gay activist said due to what he described as the harsh legislatures against same-sex relationships in Nigeria, he had to flee for his life and as well as discontinue his education due to the stigmatization he was getting from both his family and society. “I left Nigeria due to my homosexual tendencies, which, as is well known, cannot be publicly manifested in Nigeria,” he said as he urged more activists to emulate Charly Boy and stand up for the LGBT community.

“I don’t know how the sexual orientation of people should be a big issue on a country where corruption, crime, kidnapping and terrorism are high. They government should pay more attention to issues that matter and not who people choose to love,” said the 31-year old Odumene who is a native of Isselu Uku in Delta State as he called on the federal government to revisit and reverse their policy on Lesbians, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people in the country.

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