Nigerian podcast, website join fight against homophobia

More than a year after Nigeria’s harsh anti-gay law took effect, two new voices have emerged to speak on behalf of LGBTI Nigerians, while also informing them and others about the impacts of the nation’s anti-gay repression.

  • No Strings podcast logoThe “No Strings” podcast, produced in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, by a mass communications student, aims to “inform and educate LGBT people, especially those in Nigeria, concerning how they can stay positive, and deal with the hate that comes from being different.” (It needs just a little financial support. Give if you can.)
  • The “Where Love is a Crime” website, produced by The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERs), based in Lagos, Nigeria, provides information and commentary about the law, health, relationships, advocacy and human rights. The website was officially launched on May 17, 2015 (the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia), just before TIERs also launched:
  • A toll-free line for LGBTI Nigerians who need legal aid, counseling on sexuality issues, or referrals to services such as psychosocial counseling, LGBTI-friendly health care facilities and HIV testing or counseling. The toll-free line is available in Nigeria from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays at 0800CALLTIERS (0800225584377).  The same services are also available 24/7 on two non-toll-free lines (07011472241 and 08146337128).
A sad comic strip about two men accused of homosexuality is among the visual documents on the Where Love is a Crime website. The comic strip is by Elnathan John and Alexander Rudewerks Ighoja.

A sad comic strip about two men accused of homosexuality is among the visual documents on the Where Love is a Crime website. The comic strip is by Elnathan John and Alexander Rudewerks Ighoja.

The “Where Love is a Crime” website uses text, audio, video, infographics and cartoons to analyze the law and tell stories of individuals affected by homophobia in Nigeria. It also provides information and links to sexual health and human rights organizations working for the protection and promotion of LGBTI persons in each of six different regions of Nigeria.

Human rights abuses in 2014 against LGBTI Nigerians are shown in statistical form in this infographic from The Initiative for Equal Rights, presented on the Where Love is a Crime website.

Human rights abuses in 2014 against LGBTI Nigerians are shown in statistical form in this infographic from The Initiative for Equal Rights, presented on the Where Love is a Crime website.

Recent commentaries on the website include:

Adejoke Tugbiyele

Podcast guest Adejoke Tugbiyele

The “No Strings” podcast began in late February as a hobby, but podcaster  Mike Daemon (not his real name) says that he soon realized that it had become “a full-fledged voice for the LGBT community in  Nigeria. [It] dares to talk LGBT issues with members  of the LGBT community in Nigeria. It chronicles the lives and struggles of  members of the LGBT community, and as well informs and educates people  concerning the reality of being a gay person in Nigeria. It is the first of its kind.”

Episodes of the podcast can be downloaded or streamed from the No Strings podcast website, not yet from iTunes (where it shouldn’t be confused with the No Strings Attached Show podcast about wireless networking).

The podcast has presented:

  • An interview with Joseph, a member of the Nigerian LGBT community who works with an organization seeking to improve the health of LGBT Nigerians. He tells of uniformed personnel disrupting a health information session and then taking peer educators to the police station, where they were stripped and mistreated.
  • A discussion with Adejoke Tugbiyele, an American artist with Nigerian roots, who first came out on CNN as a lesbian while she was in Nigeria. “After giving an interview as a out lesbian of Nigerian origin living in Nigeria, she was advised by friends and professional colleagues to leave the country, because she ‘would have no protection.’ She recalled, ‘I listened to all of them and I left.’ “
  • John Adewoye (Photo courtesy of The Advocate)

    Podcast guest John Adewoye (Photo courtesy of The Advocate)

    A discussion with John Adewoye, a former Catholic priest who tells about coming out in 2003, immigrating to the United States in 2004, and then seeking and winning asylum. He also describes how he reconciles his faith with his sexuality.

Daemon has ambitions to develop No Strings into a more powerful advocate for LGBTI people, but would need more financial support to do so:

“No Strings records with a desktop  computer that’s pretty old and as a result continues to malfunction and  continues to drain up time and money this resulting from its regular repairs.  No Strings records with a headphone that does not produce excellent and  quality sound as expected. How about constantly running to the Internet café to post episodes and update the No Strings website — this too is time-consuming and eats up money fast.  Also many are considering suicide and do not have people to talk to about  their sexuality, not much is been done in this part of the country as regards LGBT issues, as many are looking for just that voice that could speak up for  them, and so maybe they could live with the hope that things will change.

“No Strings hopes to set up a network and organize periodic seminars and  workshop to educate young people and hear them talk their struggles and  then share them on the podcast for the world to hear that there are  actually individuals who are gays and are Nigerians and are suffering  deeply. But all these will cost money, as nothing can be achieved alone. No Strings will greatly appreciate any support, however little.”

In a public service announcement that takes the place of ads within the podcast, Daemon says:

“This is a cry from LGBTs in Nigeria.  We say, ‘Stop the hate. Stop homophobia. We are your brothers and sisters. And, above all, we are Nigerians.’ “

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