Following the declaration of homosexuality as illegal in Nigeria, Uganda and other African countries, the perpetrators of the act are now seeking refuge in countries where their laws are less stringent. One of these nations is Cote d’Ivoire.
No kissing, no petting. As gay bars go, this one is pretty well-behaved. But the crowd packing the Abidjan venue is relaxed and happy to be part of this haven of tolerance on a hostile continent.
“In a gay club, we are much freer than in straight places,” 22-year-old student Jacques tells AFP, looking on as three men sway their hips to Ivorian music on the dance floor.
“We get no strange looks. Here we can unwind, feel at ease and let ourselves go.”
One man gently strokes his companion’s neck but displays of affection stop there. The strict social codes prevailing in Ivory Coast apply here too.
The patrons include several transvestites, one a 20-year-old teacher who goes by the name Malika, and who has been living as a woman by night and a man by day for the past three years.
“I live with a friend. Out of respect for his other friends and his job, I live as a man under his roof,” said Malika, wearing discreet makeup with a short wig and clad in an elegant patterned dress.
“But when I go about my own business, I am the way I want to be.”
With bars catering for lesbians, gays and transsexuals, the west African country stands out for its tolerance on a continent where homophobia is not just common but widely enshrined into law.
The parliaments of Nigeria and Uganda recently passed laws to punish gays with long prison terms — although Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni blocked the harsh legislation.
In Mauritania, homosexuality is punishable by death.
“It’s no paradise here, but it’s a lot better than in other countries,” Malika said.
The picture is far from rosy, though: one of her transsexual friends found it difficult to get hospital treatment after she was stabbed in the chest.
And late last month dozens of homophobic protesters attacked the Abidjan offices of gay rights group Alternative Cote d’Ivoire, bashing in the doors and looting equipment.Moussa, who manages one of the three gay bars in Ivory Coast’s economic capital, told of insults from passers-by and threats from the owner of the premises to withdraw the lease.
No ‘homophobic acts by lawmakers’
And yet, in Abidjan, it remains possible to be gay — making it something of an El Dorado for gays from elsewhere in Africa, in Malika’s words.
That was certainly the case for Marinette, a bisexual woman who felt “threatened” in her hometown in Cameroon after several lesbian relationships, and came to Abidjan to sample the freedom of the city.
“This is nothing like my country, where one of my friends was threatened with rape because she had never slept with a guy,” said the young woman in her 30s, in a body-hugging red dress.
What makes Ivory Coast so much more tolerant than neighbouring countries, where homosexuality is often perceived as deviant and shameful?
“Because we have not yet been subjected to homophobic legislation,” argued Fabrice, 26, who handles judicial affairs for Alternative Cote d’Ivoire.
A government official suggested that Ivory Coast, which is recovering from a bloody political and military crisis that ended in 2011, had more pressing matters to address than its citizens’ sexual orientation.
“There is considerable unemployment, and organised crime on a large scale. At the end of the day, homosexuality is a minor issue,” agreed Fabrice.
Even in country villages, where tradition reigns strong, homosexuality is “stigmatised without going too far”, he said.
“There can be criticism, and verbal abuse, but it’s hardly sharia law.”
Yet for all that gays, lesbians and transsexuals lay claim to a degree of freedom in Ivory Coast, many still choose to keep their sexuality under wraps.
“Tonight, everybody is gay,” said Armand, a 32-year-old waiter at the bar. “But tomorrow morning, we’ll pretend we don’t know one another. Everyone hides who they are.”
#EndSARS: Ekiti state government declares 24-hour curfew
Following the various attacks on #EndSARS protesters in the state, Governor Kayode Fayemi has imposed a 24-hour curfew on the state effective from 10pm on today, Tuesday, October 20.
In a statement released by the Secretary to the State Government, Biodun Oyebanji, the state government said the curfew became necessary following the state government’s observation of how the end SARS protest, which started as a peaceful protest against police brutality by youths in Ekiti State, has been hijacked by some hoodlums.
Read the statement below
1. The Government of Ekiti State has observed with growing concern how the ENDSARS protest, which started as a peaceful protest against police brutality by youths in Ekiti State, has been hijacked by some hoodlums.
2. The hoodlums have capitalised on the ENDSARS protest to rape, assault, rob and extort innocent citizens across the State. These are in addition to the wanton destruction of properties, particularly private properties.
3. Government is concerned that if this state of affairs is allowed to continue unabated, it will lead to a breakdown of law and order thereby threatening the wellbeing of the people of Ekiti State.
4. For the purpose of clarity Government continues to show understanding and responsiveness to the demands of the legitimate protesters.
5. On 16th October 2020, Dr. John Kayode Fayemi, Governor, Ekiti State met with the protesters in person. While identifying with the legitimacy of their protests, he assured them that the State Government will immediately put measures in place to respond to all their demands.
6. Government has since then constituted a Human Rights Investigation Panel to review all cases of abuse by Officers of the disbanded SARS. In addition, Government has enabled a Victims Compensation Fund to facilitate speedy remedial measures for victims of such abuse.
7. Furthermore, several officials of Government have engaged the protesters at multiple fora and platforms including the social media in order to ensure that concerns of protesters are properly identified and responded to in a prompt and efficient manner with necessary feedback.
8. Government had also at various times drawn the attention of the protesters to the troubling hijack of the protests by individuals whose only interest is to inflict violence on the people of the state.
9. In the past 48 hours there have been incidents of gang-rape, robberies, physical assaults on innocent people, looting and burning of a police station. These acts of brigandage are not in consonance with the legitimate aspirations of the protesters. It cannot be logical to seek to remedy impunity with impunity.
10. Government therefore cannot afford to watch a deliberate enthronement of anarchy by some bad elements who have hijacked the protest for some clandestine reasons.
11. Consequently, the Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, hereby imposes a 24-hour curfew on all parts of the State starting from 10.00 pm tonight, Tuesday, October, 20, 2020.
12. Only essential workers and service providers with valid means of identifications are allowed to move around during the period of the curfew.
13. Any person found on the street that does not belong to this category, would be promptly arrested and prosecuted according to the laws of Ekiti State.
14. We seek the understanding of the good people of Ekiti State as we continue to take deliberate steps towards ensuring that peace and normalcy return to our state.”
Davido speaks on the events of the past 48 hours
Nigerian superstar, Davido has said criminals are responsible for the attack on two Correctional Centres in Benin City, Edo State.
Davido made the claim while absolving End SARS protesters of involvement in the attacks.
The singer pointed out that no amount of mischief would stop the protest against police brutality and bad governance.
Davido made the remark while condemning the attack on two Correctional Centres in Benin City, Edo State.
The hoodlums had attacked the facilities and freed some inmates.
Reacting, the singer in a series of tweets wrote: “After seeing all that’s gone on today I just want to say that from the beginning we have preached that the protest must remain peaceful and Law Abiding and as far as I know we have kept to that! And we will continue to keep to that so the narrative can NOT be switched up on us!
“The people they claim broke into prisons to free convicted criminals, burn police stations to steal weapons, damage police, government, and private vehicles are Criminals and everybody must condemn these acts. They are not part of our movement !
“#EndSars is a peaceful and law abiding protest that is going somewhere great! And no mischief can scatter it!”
Address Nigerians over #EndSARS protests – Senate urges Buhari
The Nigerian Senate has called on President Buhari to urgently address the nation so as to douse the tension in the country.
This comes as hoodlums continue to carry out various attacks on #EndSARS protesters and others in some parts of the country.
The Senators made the call for President Buhari to speak to the Nation after a motion was moved by Senator Biodun Olujimi and co-sponsored by all Senators on the ongoing nationwide protests believed to have been hijacked by hoodlums.
Part of the resolution of the Senators after deliberation include:
-Urge all tiers of government to put in place and sustain policies of social economic reforms that raise the standard of lives of our people;
-Call upon the Police to operate strictly in accordance with the rules of engagement appropriate in a democratic environment;
-Urge the Inspector General of Police to ensure a holistic comprehensive reforms of the police to increase the overall welfare including training and medical insurance of all members of the Nigeria Police Force
-Appeal to all Nigerians to resort to use of legal institutions to resolve disputes and conflicts;
-Urge the Nigerian youths and the Nigerian citizens to approach the National Assembly Committees Constitution and Reforms in order to secure far-reaching holistic amendments that are vital to the restructuring of our federation
-Urge the Federal Government to faithfully and comprehensively implement all the five demands of the #EndSARS movement and protesters with necessary timelines to rekindle confidence in government
-Appeal to #EndSARS movement and protesters to kindly in the interest of everyone stop their actions and embrace genuine dialogue; 7. Urge Mr. President to address the nation as soon as possible on these issues.
-Police should make it a duty to accompany protesters and should be involved in protecting genuine protesters.
- Entertainment14 hours ago
Regina Daniels Birthday: EVERYTHING You Need To Know
- Entertainment16 hours ago
‘My Landlady Chased Me Away And Started My Kind Of Business’ – Nkechi Blessing
- Politics18 hours ago
#EndSARS: Gov Bello Warns Protesters Against Overthrowing Buhari
- National News14 hours ago
Sanwo-Olu Imposes 24-Hour Curfew In Lagos
- News Feed15 hours ago
Pasuma Says He Was Not Chased Out Of #EndSARS Protest In Lagos (Video)
- News Feed17 hours ago
#EndSars: “I Was Paid N500 To Bring A Knife To The Protest Ground” – Man Confesses (VIDEO)
- National News19 hours ago
‘#EndSARS One Of The Most Successful Protest In Nigeria’: Lai Mohammed
- National News15 hours ago
Akwa Ibom Governor Constitutes Judicial Panel To Probe Police Brutality