Essays / Generic

WITH APOLOGIES TO MY GAY FRIENDS | AN EPISTLE BY AYO SOGUNRO

Dear Gay Friend
So Recently Traumatised
By An Insensitive Law

Opening Lines

Permit me a couple of indulgences before I proceed. First, I use the term “gay” generically, mindful of the fact that this term is reserved specifically for that classifications of sexuality known as male homosexuality. However, throughout the course of this writing, allow me to use the word “gay” as a placeholder—for the avoidance of circumlocutory language—for that variety of individuals that includes lesbians, the bi-sexual, as well as transgendered persons—and who knows—asexual and such other category unfathomable by the primitive mind. Second, I have also used the word “friends” in the loosest connotation of that familiar word. Prior to this debacle of legislative authority, I have had very minimal contact with members of the gay community—such contact being almost always from afar, observatory and polite. I cannot claim to have experienced the social stigma you confront, or the psyche of being an external member of your own society. I can claim, however, an affinity in this respect: several times in my own life, I have faced the onslaught of majority decision-making, and stood my ground against the suppression of the minority. I therefore claim a kinship with your present plight. More fortunately, I have had cause, in the last few months to develop an informal acquaintance with Bisi Alimi, whom I respect for his moral courage in being able to speak out, virtually alone, in the face of social ostracisation, and whose name will continue to crop up as long as this debate goes on in Nigeria. I have also been privileged, in the last few days, to interact directly with several members of the gay community as a direct consequence of my stance on the anti-gay legislation wantonly passed by Nigeria’s legislature.

Justifications

Having then spoken out on the subject once, and received corresponding accolades and censure, why do I now write this letter to you? Two reasons—one, because, there can’t be too much discussion on the existence of an injustice, and two, because, I believe that someone, a Nigerian, has to offer apologies to you for the misguided reasoning of this generation. My first response on this issue was, I believe, a rational discussion aimed at the reasonable people in the Nigerian society. However, this issue is not an exercise in theory—it touches your lives, your real, flesh and blood, lives. I’m afraid our internet comments and barstool discussions rarely take cognizance of this fact—as we analyze the pros and cons of whether you deserve to go to jail or not as dispassionately as we examine a central bank monetary policy: should Nigeria have a N5,000 note or not? This writing is not a rational discussion seeking premises and building conclusions—I have done that already—this is an emotive response, acknowledging your anxiety and your uncertainty in the face of social persecution. This is a contrite testament. And now, I confess a selfish reason for writing: this letter is not as important to you as it is for me and my errant generation—a documented testament for latter generations, that in the face of communal disinterest, some of us were able to stand firm against this new face of fascism.

Apologies: The Legislature

The first beneficiary of this vicarious atonement is, of course, the self-glorifying legislature whose major goal in criminalizing homosexual relationships is to deflect social attention away from their own ineptitude and focus it on your variance, your difference, instead. You have to understand the crassness of the legislature for you to accept my apology on their behalf. These are a group of people whose generic motto is “We first, the people later” and who consistently prove that their major interest is in the perpetuation of their own gratifications and the repression of social progress. In a sane society, they will be driven out on the streets and flogged with whips, one after the other. But Nigeria is not a sane society. Even more, these politicians have not fed fat on the flesh of Nigerians by chance alone—they understand, calculatedly, the Nigerian psyche. The Nigerian psyche is easily distracted by inconsequential drama, instantly attracted to grand political gestures lacking in substance or principle. The politicians understand, and manipulate, the Nigerian psyche of forgetfulness—forgetfulness by Nigerians that this same legislature, suddenly inspired to reshape public morality, still consumes a substantial part of the national budget. They know that Nigerians, like the fabled entrapment of monkeys, will not let go of the handful of nuts they can grasp from through the bottleneck, content to sit and wait for death, forfeiting freedom for a desperate taste of the murderous bait.

Apologies: The Religious Ones

Next, let me apologise on behalf of the religious—both the bigots and the seemingly reasonable. The former simply wants your head on a platter and the latter wants to see you “converted”—by jail if necessary. Both of these, however, equally share the mantra that “homosexuality is a sin”, one that must be wiped out, conveniently forgetting the fundamental right of man to sin. But if you must sin, they prefer that you fornicate, instead, like “normal” people on the hilarious theory that God can only comprehend consensual sex between an unmarried man and woman, but not consensual intercourse between members of the same sexes. These morally upright Nigerians are, of course, the modern day adherents of those two imported religions that have laid claim to the African inheritance: Christianity and Islam.

Ironically, the fundamental theses of these religions—Salvation and Submission—are woefully misunderstood by these African adopters; these preachers lack true knowledge of the spiritual philosophies they supposedly imbibe. And thus, the Christians have substituted the doctrine of Salvation of the sinner for that of Persecution of the sinner, and the Muslims, forgetting their claim that Allah wills all, would not submit to the will of Allah regarding the existence of the minority, but would rather rework the will of Allah, fashioning it after the mortal interpretation of what this will is. The death of my son is the will of Allah, they say—but not so the sexual orientation of a fellow human being.

But beyond the spiritual ignorance of our scriptural jingoist, which is pitiful, is their historical forgetfulness, which is annoying. They have forgotten the facts of history: forgotten that their religions, now dominant, were once minorities, victims of persecution and oppression by the pagan majority of the societies they were birthed in. Common sense suggests that the person who has experienced a difficulty is more sympathetic to the travails of a new sufferer—but alas, our society turns common sense on its head and the former lecturer now oppresses ASUU, the former labour leader is now a dictator to labour unions, and the previously oppressed minority—now the majority—gladly suppresses other minorities, supposedly in the name of God. And there is more to be learnt from history: the growth of Christianity through supposed heresies: the papacy, divorce, female preachers, female dressing, abortion, tithing, definition of the Sabbath—an impressing list of issues that have made the church a haven for variant, even opposing, beliefs.

And this forgetfulness showcases the inherent hypocrisy of these sudden enforcers of God’s will on earth—for they have found a new sin, one that, by default, they cannot be guilty of. “Allah be praised, Halleluyah! I might be an adulterer and a cheat, but thank God, I’m not gay!” Secure in their knowledge of immunity from this particular “sin”, they proceed to make it a criminal offence, complete with jail terms and trials, misguidedly securing their admission to heaven by the persecution of a specific “sin” committed by a specific number of their fellow-men. They happily resurrect long-discarded passages of their scriptures and stamp it across their action as a validity of their holiness. Forget about Salvation and Submission, this is Hypocrisy and Persecution.

Apologies: The Activists

And now, let me apologise on behalf of the mute social reformers and activists—those vanguards of truth and justice who have suddenly found some other activity to occupy their attention in the face of the grossest miscarriage of justice since the annulment of the June 12 election in 1993. These activists, neither hampered by political selfishness nor religious fervor, unfortunately, have demonstrated an indifference to the ideals they grandstand—enjoying the present attention of the gallery, afraid to sacrifice their democratic popularity. We are not gay, they reason, it is not our problem, and hence they substitute circumstance for principle. They set aside the fact that the law is in the name of Nigerians, the legislature a seeming representation of Nigerians. They forget—or ignore—that the underlying principle breached by the action of the legislature is the same as that of Amaechi’s stolen election at the governor’s forum. Just as one does not have to be a supporter of the beleaguered governor to voice against the injustice perpetuated against him by the president’s cronies, one does not have to be a gay person to fight against a social injustice perpetuated by the general public. These activists will watch an accused person burn to death in the market rather than rescue him from the mob. You see, it takes a strong person to fight against public opinion. Forgive them, for they don’t have that strength.

The Social Ridicule

And here is the ridicule for the world to see: a society with a police force still struggling to combat dangerous crimes is willing and eager to add more burdens to the travails of the police. This society is now willing to have policemen spend hours and resources hunting down and arresting homosexuals, parade them through the court system, waste hours of judicial time, convicting and sentencing gay people, and then clog the prison system—not with hardened criminals, but with gay doctors, gay writers, gay musicians, gay activists. Nigeria, Gulag Archipelago of Homosexuals!

But what drives the social psyche on this issue? Some sort of international recognition at a dubious first? Nigeria, the “first” African country to treat the gay issue seriously? Fighting against an imaginary social menace, or responding locally to some international crisis? This is the work of a social psychologist and beyond my scope. However, one thing is clear: this offers only some temporary amusement for the country, and the usual pattern of forgetful existence will soon set in. Today’s anti-gay hullabaloo will be forgotten in the daily struggle to place food on their tables.

Your Struggle Begins

And this is where you should begin to gather your own strength and pursue the silver lining in this ridiculous situation. You have not asked for rights before, you have not begged to be adopted into mainstream society, you have always maintained your small but distinct corner. But now, society itself has precipitated a discussion on your rights. Now, we can sit down and sort what belongs to you and what doesn’t. This law, as dismal as it makes your circumstances seem, is a blessing. It forces you to fight—and fight you must. And this is the hardest part of this epistle: this call to protest.

Study the proposed law and ignore its provisions, one after the other. Your right to civil disobedience in the face of persecution is intact. You must come out in the open and force the ostrich head of this society to look you in the face. This will be hard for you and definitely painful—but freedom is rarely handed on a dish. Go to jail, if you must—but never permit yourself to be grounded in your own land. Let those who advocate—in ignorant summation—that homosexuality is the western world’s problem—simply because the homosexuals in the west have been more forthright about their existence—know that your silence is not to be confused with guilt, your invisibility not to be confused with non-existence. And so let them drive you into jail by the thousands, let them enjoy the spectacle of the arrest and trial of gays and their activists—let the Nigerian Gulag get populated, the same has happened in history: from Nero to Hitler.

Closing Lines

And that is what history teaches: even if you fail now. History has always proven that oppressors never last, and eventually, all oppressive policy will fail. Nature works towards freedom and equality, it is man that makes cages and wields power over others. You, my gay friend, go on and work on yourself—be as human as you can be, and keep aiming higher within and without this society. Borrow a lesson from the history of Christianity: all it took for that religion to transform from an oppressed and persecuted cult and become the international religion of the Roman Empire was the membership of the Emperor’s mother. Someday, surely, Nigeria’s blind majority would be faced with the inescapable conclusion that the powerful members of their society, who dictate political and economic policy, are, in fact, gay. And therein lies your victory.

Mention or follow @ayosogunro on twitter for direct interaction.

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39 thoughts on “WITH APOLOGIES TO MY GAY FRIENDS | AN EPISTLE BY AYO SOGUNRO

  1. Wow, I dint av d patience 2 Read 2 d end. Yes Adultery is a sin but sodomy is even a bigger sin and no amount of words will justify it. I’m sorry 4 u coz d devil is using u as a vehicle nd u surely r gonna rot in Hell. Hold ur illicit views 2 urself nd stop corrupting odas. D westerners have promoted dis 2 d extent its owk by people like u, Thank God 4 d Nigerian legislature.

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    • James 2.12-13 “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” 🙂

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    • What is the meaning of ‘a bigger sin’?

      So, the writer will rot in hell? Used by the devil? Hilarious. Stop wasting your talent and be a stand-up comic. 😀

      You didn’t read to the end but you were eager to comment and condemn the writer to everlasting hell-fire. Clap for yourself you’ve achieved the unthinkable – our resident clown 🙂

      Religion, as always, forever in the business of fear and condemnation.

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    • I’m just wondering where this classification of sin came from, sin is sin to God, every unrighteousness is sin, there is no lesser or greater since with God. The same way you judge or treat an adulterer, the same way you should treat an homosexual. I’m not in support of homosexuals but Christ died for them too and he loves them, I’m sure he will not condemn them, he will treat them the way he did the woman caught in adultery in John chapter 8. We are quick to condemn others when their sins is supposedly greater than ours, with “at least I’m better than him” attitude.

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      • The love of God yields the hate of sin. Sin has no place in heaven. God said we should condemn sin not the sinner.

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  2. It is really becoming an issue of concernm the kinds of legislation we approve in Nigeria now. Whatever happened to pouring all the efforts it took them to pass this bill into amending chapter 2 of our constitution?

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  3. I’m glad to read up articles like this. Did a similar post on this topic. Here’s an excerpt from it “Who made us judges over homosexuals? If we want to wear those shoes, then we’ve got to go the whole nine yards. We need to speak up against any form of sexual sin. Until we start doing that, we’ll remain HYPOCRITES” The entire post can be read from this link http://wp.me/p33lB5-8o. Good work

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  4. I am a christian. The fact that a few among us decided to be robbers (minority) does not mean that the majority who are trying to earn an honest living should support them. Homosexuality is clearly condemned in the scriptures, I don’t see why Christians should support it.
    It is left for the lawmakers to enact laws that will benefit the society. Whether it favors gays or not will not change the views of Christians and Muslims who know that such way of life is condemned in the holy writs.

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  5. Another wonderful piece my brother, bravo.

    I pray that God should teach us better how to love. That as people who profess faith in Jesus,we should remember that he was persecuted because he was different. He preached something that was contrary to the old laws and majority scorned him.

    It’s so easy to condemn something that’s not what we know as the norm,and so difficult for supposed children of God to embrace diversity,even when this was what Jesus himself premised Christianity on. He drew closer to the drunks,the whores,he made friends with them,real friendship. But we? We are holier than Jesus himself.

    It makes me so sad that the Christian faith,which should be the most accommodating,because it’s premised on love and sacrifice,is becoming the most intolerant(if not the most)of all religious followings.

    I pray we all find it in our hearts to truly learn to love our neighbours as ourselves,as Jesus taught us to.

    God bless you Ayo. Peace.

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    • Love the sinner, hate the sin, don’t accomodate the sin but rather, accomodate the sinner. God Himself states that He hates sin and love for Him means hate for sin.
      Some gays have been saved and others can be saved too.

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  6. I have no problem tolerating and loving a gay person, hard as it sounds for me, however, I cannot and will not be their judge, there are no lesser or greater sins, whether we say orientation, norm and whatever we call it, homosexuality is a sin. Societal laws are not my standard as a christian, I am not condemning the person, I condemn the sin along with the other sins. Criminalising it makes no sense to me, this is not a theocracy. I wish they(the gays) will come to the knowledge of the jesus I know.

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  7. Well done Ay., but do you know that homosexuality and/or lesbianism are the major sins that led to the destruction of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah? And it is widely seen as a social vice in the African world view because and of course you and I know it is purely and scientifically in opposition to natural order. God, you know created the woman partly because He had fashioned her as a copulating partner for the menfolk. why this rude and unnecessary artificial alteration in the first place, all in the name of human distinctiveness – peculiarity or discrepancies my foot! God save this generation from self-destructive intuitions.

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  8. Homosexuality will never be legal in this country,we are ready to kill them one by one in order to protect our children!!!

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    • Oh dear I laugh so hard at you. Will you equally kill anyone caught in adultery or fornication….. oops sorry! Its no longer called fornication or adultery rather having fun right. C’mon!!! He who is without sin, cast the first stone.

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      • There are laws in existence for adulterers, rapists or fun lovers or what ever you call them. No one talked about killing anyone, its just a law to maintain sanity and cub the uncouth display of a certain kind of “disease” in the glaring eyes of the public and/ for generations unborn.

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  9. As a fellow Christian, I feel ashamed to be categorised the same as many other Christians.

    WHETHER OR NOT YOU ACCEPT OR OPPOSE HOMOSEXUALITY IS IRRELEVANT! THE POINT IS THAT YOU CANNOT IMPRISON A PERSON FOR THEIR SEXUALITY!

    Some silly person commented that you will “kill them one by one”. FROM A CHRISTIAN?! This is why we are so barbaric as a nation; every issue needs to be resolved with burning each other alive or some other sort of display of unnecessary violence.

    There is nothing you can do to stop a person from being gay. Secondly, you should mind your own bloody business rather than going around trying to “kill them one by one”. I marvel at the level of ignorance and lack of education. We have a LONG way to go as a county.

    Disgusted.

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  10. I chose not to comment on your first post on this attention-seeking issue because its your opinion and you’re entitled to so hold them. Asides from that, you marshaled your arguments paying due obeisance to logic but this…needless epistle of apology beggars belief.

    Firstly, for you to refer to the reasoning of this generation on the topic as misguided is disappointing. I’m not going to waste time to advance reasons why or why not the law proscribing homosexuality is good or bad. Personally, I applaud the decision of the National Assembly because i feel life will be a whole lot safer for my sensibilities and for my unborn kids and i do believe for the majority of Nigerians. It will be most unsettling for my kids to grow up in a world where two guys making out on the street is seen as normal. YUCK!!!!!

    You skillfully refused to comment on the fact that the Nigerian government was being pressured, even blackmailed by the West to embrace homosexuality as a way of life. Apart from the fact that it is alien to our culture, it is illogical. Dicks and pussy are the best complements there will ever be. Anything other than that is against the order of nature. Homosexuals getting married and adopting heterosexual kids is the recipe for disaster; it almost always ends up with child molestation. Don’t leave out what motivated the legislation against homosexuality. This law was more of an assertion of sovereignty and not the victimization of a deviant minority.

    Personally, inasmuch as i despise homosexuality, i don’t mind people doing what they do in the privacy of their homes. Where i have a problem is where you gay activists try to cloak homosexuality with the garb of human rights and put it out there as an acceptable way of life. That’s total horse shit because it is NOT! Homosexuality is a deviant behaviour and should always be seen as such.

    This “apology” is needless.

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  11. D dog that is destined to get lost will never listen to d hunters whistle. Its easy to write infamous articles. It gets u noticed easily. How many of us will take time to read articles on topics like “how to make heaven”. My brother u are a good writer. Am sure u think u are being “reasonable” or a “free thinker” like pple in d civilized world. Its a way to destruction! In fact u and others are just devil’s advocates. I have nothing against u, gays, and other gay supporters. U pple remind me of jesus’s comment in d bible “… It is written….” U pple are just playing ur roles in d END TIME. It is written that all these things will happen when JESUs is coming back. My advice for fellow christians is to prepare for d 2nd coming of our lord. Meanwhile they should love and pray for all gays including their advocates like u that God should open ur spiritual eyes b4 its too late.

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    • Hehehe. The roles are mixed here: the Bible talks about heathens persecuting Christians, not Christians persecuting heathens. These are not the end-times, No, not yet. The religious ones are still in power.

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  12. All u religionists will just be famzing God ‘big sin’ ‘they will rot in hell’ blah blah blah. Y don’t u let them enjoy their trip to hell or better yet let God destroy them himself abi is it not his jurisdiction again? Remeber Jesus said let he who is w/o sin, any sin at all be it stealing or cheating, cast the first stone. besides the religious apology is not the only one there, how about the PR move the legislature is trying to pull.

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    • Would you let your loved one have 8 minutes of happiness, contentment and love which will lead to 80 years of utter sadness and depression Or would you let your loved one have 8 minutes of utter sadness and depression which will lead to 80 years of happiness, contentment and love?

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  13. As enthused as iam toward your well written piece i must say, one major truth( mine) is the ability to admit that this “condition” is alien to our societal values as africans. And that alone is the premise of every law that such society should make at that time.
    Rather than resorting into the wailing mode of discrimination, let “your gay friends” acknowledge, that
    1. They came to the wrong part of the world at this time,
    2. We over here still retain the logos and science of the ultimate will to a certain extent,
    3. Acknowledge they arent like normal people and submit for rehabililtation or sort.
    I will also state that there are laws against other sexual “sin” and the likes.
    I will stop here for now.

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  14. Aah. I see.

    Now that the circumspection of the various arguments has once again gone full circle, I once again ask my favorite question:

    why is bigamy a crime?
    Why has anyone decided to attach sanction to a person who takes more than one wife/husband?
    Why am I precluded from legally having a harem?
    What sense does it really make that my secondary spouses and children are legally dehumanised and maltreated?
    Why does the law recognize the existence of a bastard whilst pretending it does not?
    Why will my second wife and above denied the same legal rights afforded to the first?
    Why should my children from other wives be lesser than the ones from one wife.

    Juxtapose this as appropriate with a woman.

    If it makes no sense that some people criminalized LBGT affairs, how does it make any sense that the above occurs?

    And somehow those same people who champion gay rights will suddenly lose the ability to reason properly now and justify the rank idiocy and selfishness against polygamy.

    Let’s face reality please.

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  15. Dear Ayo. This article is tastefully written and intelligently laced with the pearls of logic. you come across s a pretty well informed writer with a robust word palette with which you have picturesquely driven home your disgust. I wish more young Nigerians would write like this.

    The issue my friend, isnt that of demonising the minority so as to diminish them. it is rather a tale of a society fighting hard to retain whats left of its values. As one who had mentored and counselled yohng people for over 20 years I could tel you that homosexuality is mostly a learned behavior – and a choice. Do people have a right to make those choices . Absolutely. its entirely within their rights to choose that orientation just like it is their right to choose to steal’, fight, inflate an invoice, have an abortion, or even kill. However those choices all come with consequences

    every society establishes its moral culture and the canons that shape the consequences of violation. The Nigerian legislature clamped down on the same sex union within the same time frame that the British house of commons upheld it. Different cultures. Calling the refusal to adopt wholesale Western positions on homosexuality primitive, is pretty much a colonial mentality.

    The onslaught on religion is unnecessary. The law was passed by the National Assemnly not at a christian convention or in the Sokoto caliphate. Some fellows within the Anglican communion are known to have even ordained openly gay bishops. moreso i have often pointed out that christianity or even islam are not western religions. They are more middle eastern. And their canons clearly forbid immoral lifestyles by whatever name. They toobhave a right to hold that position

    in conclusion I wish gay persons are able to find peace and needed healing with God, God loves them just as much as anyone else. And to my friend Ayo: there are many of good causes in this land that van desperately use someone with your passion and skill with words. I hope you do them service with equal fervor as you have done your gay friends.

    warm regards
    Dave

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    • Thank you for your comment. I find it quite sincere. However, your admonishment is premised on the idea that homosexuality is a “learned” behaviour. I agree with you on this–to the extent that this kind of learned homosexuality usually develops in a restricted environment where female company is absent, as a simulated substitute for heterosexual intercourse. You find this type in prisons, boy’s hostels and seminaries. This is learned, and is merely animal instinct, which soon vanishes as soon as a female comes in play. The participants would not even consider themselves as “gay”. This is not the type of homosexual activity that ordinary results in affection, much less marriage. That nature of that other kind, however, the kind where a person bred in heterosexual environments is uncomfortable with the opposite sex and instead is attracted to the same sex is till indeterminate. The jury is still out on whether this is genetic or volitional, and whether it is “curable” or inherent to the person. Pending such a time as we have these answers, I think it is rash to encourage a culture of victimisation–for this is such. There is no social attempt at rehabilitation or counselling–merely prosecution. No matter what ends this social attack may serve, the means is too flawed for me to be comfortable with it. 🙂

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      • Homosexuality is a learned behaviour. The hate you talk about that leads to the disgust of the opposite sex stems from something and that leads to the supression of one’s true heterosexual feelings.
        It’s nurture not nature.

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  19. You have tried with big grammers to convince us but I must tell you that being a gay is not natural. You are either born man or woman and hence bound to attract the opposite sex. But if you choose to satisfy your selfish sexual desire that is between you and your God, do it on code and don’t publish this kind of bullshit on the net to convince anyone to join you. If at the end an influential legislator happens to be a gay then he chooses to legalise gaysm then I must tell you that God intentionally allow that to happen to destroy this country. What is the happening to western words that legalised gaysm? Check out their economy now so it’s a punishment for the evil they did. Then if you continue to broadcast this rubbish and succeeded to convince anyone to join you then you are bringing more hell to your soul. Forget about the big grammers you are speaking, na 9ja we dey oo.

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