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Nigerian rights activist: Growing support for LGBT rights will have ‘huge impact’ on Africa

Megan Boyanton July 3, 2015
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Nigerian rights activist Bisi Alimi has expressed optimism – after a poll found that support for his country’s anti-gay law is slowly declining.

The poll earlier this week found that 87 percent of Nigerians support a law criminalising same-sex relationships, down from 96 percent five years ago.

In an interview with GLAAD reporter Claire Pires, Alimi – the founder of the Bisi Alimi Foundation, and the first man to come out on Nigerian television – explains the traditional anti-gay attitude in Nigeria and his hopeful findings through social polling for the national LGBT tolerance rate.

Alimi said: “When the result came out… it dropped from 96 percent to 87 percent. That’s a huge drop! We can’t believe that in Nigeria we get this out.

“If Nigeria, at a population of 170 million people, the most populous black nation in the world, the biggest economy on the continent of Africa, one of the African’s biggest superpowers- intent of military, intent of foreign policy… if a country like that can be more accepting of social issues… you can imagine what impact that will have on the continent.”

In 2010, 96 percent of Nigerians were in favour of the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, which forces anyone outwardly involved in the LGBT community to be imprisoned- some for 14 years.

President Goodluck Jonathan signed the law quietly in early 2014.

With the help of NOIPolls, by 2015, the group had found the support rate had dropped to 87 percent.

Alimi hopes that, by 2020, it will have decreased further to 60 percent.

Nigerian rights activist: Growing support for LGBT rights will have ‘huge impact’ on Africa

Alimi described his most moving moment as an advocate was when an African mother welcomed her gay son back into her household after hearing Alimi on television.

He said: “For me, it was very much about- there is one other woman, there is one other man out there, and I need to get across to that person.”

Alimi himself was ostracised by his parents for years because of his sexuality.

Nigerian rights activist: Growing support for LGBT rights will have ‘huge impact’ on Africa

In an additional study, they found that among Nigerians aged 18 to 25, nearly a quarter would accept a family member if they came out as LGBT.

The group with the least support was those 61 and older, of which only two percent would support their relative.

Alimi is hoping that these statistics point to a growth in tolerance in the upcoming years in, not only Nigeria, but Africa as a whole.

More: advocacy, Africa, african lgbt, Anti-gay, anti-gay laws, bisi alimi, coming out, Discrimination, Gay rights, Homophobia, homophobic, lesbian, LGBT rights, Nigeria, Nigeria, Trans, Transgender

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