September 1, 2017 at 9:00 am EDT | by Ms. Lagos
Uncensored: Gentlemen of the press

Gay News, Washington Blade, Nigeria

Ms. Lagos, who is a journalist in Nigeria, details her colleagues’ problematic coverage of LGBT-specific issues. (Photo by Darwinek via Wikimedia)

“Please drop this gay stuff. We are done with it.”

Those were the exact words of Michael, a renowned human rights journalist and the group administrator for the Journalist Group, the largest network of more than 250 veteran and upcoming African journalists on WhatsApp.

With a membership guideline which states that the group is apolitical, devoid of biases, promotes professionalism and sound judgment and a training ground for undiluted journalism and human rights causes, I wouldn’t have been taken aback when banter of words on LGBTQ issues ensued on such a platform.

It is no longer news that Nigeria’s Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act of 2013 signed into law by then-President Goodluck Jonathan on Jan. 13, 2014, has made it impossible for people of the same sex to engage in any form of civil union or same-sex marriage. However, since the passage of the law, there have been widespread inhumane treatments by law enforcement agents and some members of the public who have taken the laws into their own hands against the LGBTQ community.

It is however worrisome that a journalist who is supposed to set news agendas freely discusses and criticizes the activities of both the authorities, civil and private structures have become the inhumane sword that pierces the innocent souls of mankind. I would have thought that my profession as a journalist is meant to respect the right of society to objective truthful information and a whole spectrum of opinions on certain issues.

Anita, a veteran journalist on radio with 25 years work experience wouldn’t just hear of it! Her disdain for the LGBTQ community pierced my soul as I scrolled and read through the group chat for the day.

“Gentlemen of the press, we cannot and must not discuss, lest interview anyone perceived to be gay or lesbian on our radio or television stations. It is not only an abomination but it offends public sensitivity and therefore NTBB (not to be broadcast),” she said. “In fact the truth is that these aliens have depraved minds and need psychological counseling.”

Was I angry at her analysis or choice of words? Not really! I was rather perplexed with these generation of veterans who young journalists should learn the ethics of journalism from have taken the toll of unconstructive journalism, a voice for the voiceless that is now the medium of hate speech.

“It appears as if there is an oath taken by leaders of the western world to ensure the ascendancy of LGBTQ in the West,” Jacobson, a member of the group and the head of the editorial department of a renowned print media outlet, reiterated. “I am sure that it’s the new face of liberalism the west is trying to push on us. We must speak against it on our media stations. These so called gay people should be thrown to the dogs”

What caught my attention the most was the fact that Jacobson was one of the journalists assigned to cover the coming out of Richard Quest.

Jacobson wrote one of the best news stories on CNN’s renowned broadcaster when he visited Nigeria recently. Could Jacobson have forgotten so soon that the man he profiled in his news story is a GAY MAN?

Listening to the radio and television for the latest news stories, I was glad to hear that a new law is being proposed which will categorize hate speech as “terrorism.”

I am aware that hate speech is speech which attacks a person or group on the basis of attributes such as race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, or gender but in a Nigeria where her laws are discriminatory and have become a tool being used by the law enforcement agencies, members of the public and worse of, journalist to legitimize multiple human rights violations perpetrated against LGBTQ people, can we say that this law is realistic or better still the beginning of light at the end of the tunnel?

The journalist group chat went on and on, the hate speeches, the insensitivity and narrow mindedness. I sighed! What incorruptible injustice against mankind.

My fellow gentlemen of the press, May I have your listening ears please? What has someone’s sexuality got to do with their ability to relate and behave like a human being? These people are just like anyone of us, if you have ever been discriminated against because of your skin color, race, religion or sex you will empathize with this community. I have worked with them and as far as I am concerned, they can be the nicest of people to work with. Do I support what they do? I don’t care, because it is none of my business.

There is an awakening that is looking at religion in a very different light, so if your bias is against them on religious grounds, then I suggest you take a very deep look at your beliefs and then ask yourself if they were created like you were or evolved from science as postulated by some school of thought. What would you as a parent do if your child affiliates with the LGBTQ community? Will that child cease to be your child, will the love you have for the child evaporate over night? Have you ever imagined been given a blood transfusion to save your life? Would it matter if the blood belonged to a gay man or lesbian woman? Would you even know whose blood it is?

We can’t deny the fact that the world is full of people who don’t do things the way we do. As journalists, I expect us to be broadminded and stop being judgmental. The hypocrisy of people bugles the mind. Those who protest and shout the loudest against what they know nothing about should educate themselves and stop being afraid. You only need to be a fly on the wall to see what so called straight sex people get up to in their bedrooms.

We all bleed red and we are all humans, and just like us straight sex people, they also have a right to be here.

I am Ms. Lagos, an objective Journalist and the transmitter of human rights.

Ms. Lagos is a media expert specializing in journalism with a distinction in MA global media and communications from the University of Coventry in the U.K. She is a fellow of the Bisi Alimi Media Justice Fellowship, Ms. Lagos has spent much of the past 20 years in active journalism. She is presently a human rights feature producer for one of Africa's largest private network media stations.

1 Comment
  • Hearty thanks to the Washington Blade for encouraging this African journalist writing space in your pages. Truly innovative and empowering. Here’s hoping we see regular reports on Nigerian LGBT by Ms. Lagos on these pages!

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