World looking at India’s success on Section 377: Writer Chike Frankie Edozien

Edozien teaches journalism at New York University and is author of the memoir ‘Lives of Great Men: Living and Loving as an African Gay Man’. 

Published: 15th January 2019 05:36 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th January 2019 05:36 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

CHENNAI: The success of India’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender & Queer (LGBTQ) community in overturning the colonial-era Section 377  that criminalised homosexuality has been a source of inspiration to the members of the community in several African countries, according to Nigerian-American writer Chike Frankie Edozien.

In 2018, the Supreme Court ruled Section 377 unconstitutional “in so far as it criminalises consensual sexual conduct between adults of the same sex.”

Edozien teaches journalism at New York University and is the author of the memoir ‘Lives of Great Men: Living and Loving as an African Gay Man’. 

The Lambda Literary prize-winning book, published in 2017,  tells of the author’s life as a gay man in Nigeria as well as of the lives of other gay men and women in African nations. Speaking at an interaction in Chennai on Monday, organised by the NGO Sahodaran, Edozien said that many members of the LGBTQ community in African nations such as Nigeria, Ghana and Tanzania, have been looking at how, through the courts, they could decriminalise homosexuality.

“What we have learnt from the Indian example is that you can chip away at the legislation... we can build from that with small victories at a time such as marriage and adoption rights,” he said, adding that the Internet was crucial in making news of the SC verdict globally available in real time. There are organisations working to scrap such laws and lawsuits going on in several African countries, he said. 
In Nigeria, for instance, existing law that criminalised homosexuality was strengthened in 2014 with the passage of the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act. 

The Act which bans same-sex marriage also bans any public displays of affection between same-sex persons. It has been widely condemned as draconian. Edozien said he knew of lesbian activists in Nigeria who were considering challenging the law by targeting the provisions that bar the word ‘lesbian’ (or ‘gay’) from being used in the name of an organisation. Interestingly South Africa has progressive LGBTQ legislation that was referenced in the SC verdict. However, Edozien said that its example was often dismissed by Nigerians as resulting from its ‘multicultural’ population.

“People can dismiss South Africa. They can dismiss something that happens in America or Britain, by saying ‘oh that’s just the west’. But this is India, it is a commonwealth country. It is not the west,” he explained. “The world is watching.”


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