‘Freedom of Speech does not apply to LGBTQ Nigerians’ – Sukia Akiba

As a dual citizen of the United States and Nigeria, I get to witness and experience first-hand how freedom of speech exists in each country.  In the United States, freedom of expression is a privilege allowed to all citizens and even immigrants. It is a right granted by the First Amendment of the Constitution. The people in the U.S take this for granted and for the most part they have always been able to speak their mind. 

I will also confess that the reason most Americans take this privilege for granted comes from ignorance. Ignorance of how little speech is free in other parts of the world. Ignorance of how policed expression is in other parts of the world.  

Sukia Akiba

In Nigeria, if your views or lifestyle are considered outside of the accepted norm, your “protected rights” of freedom of expression goes out the window. 

Nigeria also has freedom of expression, which is protected by section 39(1) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Constitution.  In practice, freedom of speech in Nigeria is highly regulated by the Government. The Nigerian government constantly applies censorship to its citizens.  If the government controls the narratives, ask yourself this, how free are expression and speech if it is costing the citizens so much. The LGBTQ community pays a heavy price to express themselves. Some times even their lives. 

In Nigeria, if your views or lifestyle are considered outside of the accepted norm, your “protected rights” of freedom of expression goes out the window.  The LGBTQIA community is basically afforded zero rights to speak their minds or openly express love verbally or physically. This is very similar to how things existed in the United States a half-century ago.  We can only hope that over time things will improve in Nigeria. We can only hope that the protection of free speech and free expression covers citizens who are members of the LGBTQ community. We can only hope that the brutalization of citizens takes precedence over the expression of consensual, same-sex love, in the eyes of the law. That is why we need publications like these, people like us! We have to be the change we wish to see for OUR country. It is not enough that homosexuals are jailed and punished but now they are even legally brutalized, murdered and in many cases sentenced up to 14 years. Free expression means, without cost, why do some pay for it and others get to enjoy it, aren’t we all Nigerian citizens?

Hope is free, let’s stop hoping if you are going to pay for it anyway, why not pay for it in a fight for what is rightfully yours as humans?

Article was written by Sukia and Reviewed by Christina M.

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