While we earnestly wait for the recently passed Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Law (hereinafter referred to as the SSMPL) to be either reviewed or totally abolished by the Nigerian Law makers, thanks to the effortless moves being made by various Human rights’ organizations; the question that every gay person faces and cannot seem to get a satisfactory and heartwarming answer to is: HOW DO I/WE SURVIVE AMIDST THIS CHAOS?
This article seeks to serve as a quick-to-remember guide to every person that may feel he/she may be under direct attack from the unknowledgeable Police man, who feels he has been given a marching order to capture and kill by this Law OR from malicious persons who just want to hurt you.
- PLEASE REMEMBER that this law was just recently passed. Nobody, not even the Police can use acts that you did BEFORE the signing of the law against you. According to Section 36(8) of the Nigerian Constitution, “No person SHALL be held to be guilty of a criminal offence on account of any act or omission that did NOT, at the time it took place, constitute such an offence, and NO penalty shall be imposed for any criminal offence heavier than the penalty in force at the time the offence was committed”. In simple terms, you are forgiven for every “immorality/sin” committed before the 7th of January, 2014.
- BE ALERT. Please, make a conscious effort to be very alert of your environment. Try your best possible not to do anything that will make any one attack you. Please, do not give any of those close-minded hypocrites a golden opportunity to harass you.
- GADGET(S) WIPE. Please, wipe off RECENTLY and even past incriminating text messages, pictures and videos from your gadgets and social media. If you cannot do without them, please transfer them to an encrypted folder in a hard drive. PLEASE! . I advise everyone to get the security-in-a-box software, there are numerous applications that will help you secure a lot of your personal information.
- STUDS AND EFFEMINATE MEN. I hear quite a number of these people are getting accosted and badly harassed. FIRSTLY, no one, and I repeat NO ONE has the right to harass you for the way you dress, talk or walk.
- SECONDLY, no one, and I repeat NO ONE has the right to ask you to strip for them to ascertain your gender. For goodness sakes, you are not at the quarantine section of the Immigration services. Confidently tell them what gender you are, and if there is a continuous harassment, PLEASE have an emergency contact number, preferably that of a LAWYER, that you trust and when called he/she can come to your rescue. If before your contact arrives and you are still being harassed to strip to prove your gender, PLEASE inform the Police or whosoever to take you to a court of competent jurisdiction, where you can swear to an affidavit of gender (ON THEIR ACCOUNT OF COURSE). If they still insist, please be aware of the fact that by the provisions of the CRIMINAL PROCEDURE ACT and CRIMINAL PROCEDURE CODE, a man can ONLY be searched by a man, and a woman can ONLY be searched by a woman. If the prescription of the law is not followed, be informed that you have a case of ASSAULT and BATTERY against such individuals.
- THIRDLY, in the event you get arrested and according to the police, they were informed that you are in a same-sex AMOROUS relationship, PLEASE DO NOT PANIC. Calmly ask them that you would like to know who your accuser is. YES, you have the right to know who accuses you of a crime. If the Police refuse to tell you, simply tell them that this is a simple case of MALICIOUS PROSECUTION/PERSECUTION and the Police have no right to keep you in further detention. If they make any attempt to torture or force you to make a statement, against your own will, PLEASE demand for your Lawyer and KEEP SILENT. You have a right to silence, do not be shaken by their threats, and in case you are physically tortured or assaulted, please be rest assured that you have a case against the Police, which will be rightly addressed in court.
NOTE:- The SSMPL did not empower anybody to do any of the above hypothetical scenarios to you! BE AWARE!!!
- CIVIL UNION. Yes, it is stated by the SSMPL that persons of same sex in a civil union are liable to a jail term of 14 years. ALL WELL AND GOOD. I would love to educate us on a bit of Criminal law. A crime is made up of two elements, which are, the ACTUS REUS (The act involved) and the MENS REA (the state of mind), which must be linked and every Prosecutor/Accuser has the burden to prove both elements. It is a known principle in law that “He who alleges must prove”.
Now, let us apply just a little of the legal knowledge we have acquired. YES, they accuse you of having a civil union, this is the ACTUS REUS. Let us look at the definition of a Civil Union by the SSMPL, it states that it “means any arrangement between persons of the same sex to live together as SEX PARTNERS…………”, please note the SEX PARTNERS bit. Your accuser MUST prove to the Police or Court that you were actually having SEX with whomever it may be………….this is the foundation of all the kinds of Civil Union listed in the law. When it comes to sex, it is quite fortunate in this case that oral evidence is not sufficient; the accusation MUST be corroborated with another primary evidence.
- GAY CLUBS, SOCIETIES AND ORGANISATIONS. According to the SSMPL, anyone who registers, operates or participates in any of these will be liable to a jail term of 10 years. FINE. Please, in the meantime, I beg with every person affected in this group to quickly amend their organization’s constitution, vision or mission statements, if at all it has any incriminating description. And let the onus of proof fall heavily on your accuser that your club, society or organization is for same sex amorous people.
- PUBLIC SHOW OF AFFECTION. I am pretty sure everyone will be smart enough to bring this to a total stop. Please, try your best not to be found wanting while this war is being fought.
- COALITION: Now, more than before and ever, a solid coalition has to be formed within the same sex amorous people. Believe me, this will go a long way in beating the SSMPL at its own game.
- REPORTS. Please be informed that this law did not empower anyone to snitch on the next person, even though the Police will try to justify it by stating the Criminal code empowers an individual to report if he believes a crime is about to be committed, the crime here being the operation of a gay club, societies or organizations and the public show of an amorous relationship. Please, endeavor to do everything within your power not to have anything held against you in this perilous time.
I hope someone will find my guidelines/information useful and just keep holding on to hope that something positive will come out from all the efforts being made. ONE LOVE.