By Akoro Joseph Sewedo
In recent weeks, the struggle to enhance LGBT rights in Nigeria has shifted to mobilizing the community instead of conventional advocacy.
Activists are now targeting their campaigns at the homosexual community instead of at establishments such as the media, human rights lawyers and other civil society organizations. This strategy could soon see the LGBT community challenge the authorities.
The change has come about as a result of efforts by the Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERs) in partnership with Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights, who recently held a workshop for the LGBT community in Lagos state.
The workshop, which attracted 29 participants, was aimed at facilitating community mobilization and empowerment to enhance LGBT activism in Nigeria.
“Over the years, TIERs has organized sensitisation workshops for human rights lawyers and media personnel and now we think that mobilizing the affected community and empowering them with advocacy skills is the way to go,” Olumide Makanjuola, TIERs programme director said.
“The training helped to reinforce the importance of community involvement in planning or implementing projects. Some members of the community are stronger and can be leaders in the follow up of the project implementation. The importance of monitoring and documenting human rights violations in the LGBT community as a step towards attaining better human rights for member of the community was clearer,” said Ekene Okwuegbunam, TIERs’ security protection officer who also happens to be a lawyer by profession.
“Furthermore,” he added, “several events are expected to ride on the back of the human rights training. It is expected that this training will lead to, community enlightenment activities on human rights education, monitoring and documentation of human rights violations by community members, training of trainers on monitoring and documentation, setting up of a human rights creative club society and exploring new human rights education strategies For instance, film, drama, song, poetry and other information education and communication materials.”
This strategy implored by TIERs shows that in the face of stigma and discrimination by the authorities, the homosexual community in Lagos State is preparing to confront the status quo.