Chapter 15: Intolerance concerning sexuality
In Nigeria, as well as in other parts of the world, people are still being discriminated against for many reasons. This includes people of various sexual orientations other than conventional heterosexuality. The fact is that these group of people are still being perceived as being from different class of behaviour that is alien to human kind. Then, if this is the case, then it is believed that it is not against any known law not to be accorded the same respects like the rest. We know that it is a general trend that in most part of the world where some laws are either made out of ignorance, stupidity or by the popular opinions of people who might be so timid, myopic and outdated, things they either didn’t understand viewed as weird would be out-rightly condemned. People’s culture is a product of their worldviews which might be universally right or wrong, but then these worldviews form the greater part of their laws and norms.
For people in our part of the world like many other conventional opinions across the globe, heterosexuality is generally accepted as not only the popular but the normal sexual orientation. Thus, the society fixed it that any other kind of sexual orientation that derailed from heterosexuality wouldn’t be accepted or entertained. In fact, there’s no open room for debate about any other kind of sexuality or sexual orientations. Even this part of the book as it is being discussed here might be adjudged by some conservatives as ‘the devil’s epistle’. In our society, any other kind of sexual orientation is known as perversion which of course being attributed to the fault or the choice of the person who has such orientation, or in a very mild exoneration (by those in religious circle), should be attributed to be the acts of the devil who torments such persons and inflicts them with such undesirable behaviours.
In fact, in religious circles as well as in many cultural settings, non-heterosexual sex is being attributed as pervasion that could only come from the devil. It is regarded therefore as an aberration in human sexuality development. Most religions believe that devil is the root cause of all human misbehaviours. For this reason, the devil that causes other sexual orientations (other than heterosexuality) needs to be cast out from the person it is believed to be possessing. This is mostly done by some prescribed religious rituals, often known as deliverance.
Most often non-heterosexual persons or any other persons with some undesirable bad habits are either being admonished or being coerced into undergoing these rituals of religious deliverances because it is believed that through the rituals, the abnormalities in their behaviours would change. The essence of the rituals of deliverance is to eliminate the devil that is believed to have resided inside such persons and has taken control of the persons’ mind, manipulating or pushing him/her into behaviours undesirable in the society.
We are not here to debate how effective such religious rituals are on the receivers. The religious circle believes that there is no way someone who is sexually attracted to people of their own sex group should be allowed to continue living such life. Though recently across Europe and America, the public perceptions of those with non-heterosexual behaviours are gradually changing as tolerance is gradually prevailing over there, but it doesn’t remove the fact that majority of the people still frown at such behaviours across the globe. Any behaviour we have is as a product of our nurture more than our nature. Nurture can influence our nature and remodels our behaviours and worldviews.
Sins are believed to have been caused or influenced by the devil who tempts man to misbehave or revolt against whatever is deemed to be the wish of God. Therefore, for this person to stop living in such sin of non-heterosexual attractions through the ‘manipulations of the devil’ then deliverance must take place. In this religious ritual, the devil is being commanded by the exorcist to leave the body of the person believed to be possessed by the devil. These rituals of deliverance might be symbolic, spiritual or psychological. When deliverance is believed to have been completed, the root cause of evil is presumed to have been eliminated. Some people believe that it works though others would deny such claims, but that’s not essential part of this discuss.
It is undeniable fact that religions control most part of people’s minds in Nigeria or even in Africa at large. One should therefore not wonder why people of non-heterosexual orientations are being rejected more across the country. On the other hand, it might have been more about the conservative culture of the people. Whichever way, the society here is still hostile and abhors any kind of non-heterosexual behaviours.
Most often, regular bad habits and other social ills like drunkenness, adultery, fornication, lying, cheating, etc are also regarded as acts of the devil which can only be ‘cured’ through deliverance. We are not here to debate these anyway but rather to expose how the society today view certain human behaviours and how it reacts to them with either tolerance or intolerance.
No matter how we pretend about it, we have to accept the fact that our society is still very far from accepting those with sexual orientations contrary to heterosexuality. Even to talk about homosexuality openly in Nigeria is not accepted. Those who deemed themselves to be tolerable and open-minded often fail the test when it comes to tolerating those with any other sexual orientation different from heterosexuality.