New report reveals isolation, mistreatment of LGBTQ Nigerians

Today, the Bisi Alimi Foundation released “Not dancing to their music,” an original report on the trying experiences of LGBTQ Nigerians since the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act (SSMPA) became law in 2014.

“Not dancing to their music” explores the results of an online survey in which 446 LGBTQ Nigerian respondents relayed how systemic issues with law enforcement, education, healthcare, and the media both limits opportunities for LGBTQ Nigerians and intersects with issues of abuse, exclusion, detention, and more.

Bisi Alimi, the first person to come out live on Nigerian television, is also the Executive Director of the Foundation. He said of the report:

This is not just about data, these are stories and real life experiences of stigmatised and vulnerable citizens of Nigeria. These are the stories of police extortion, family betrayal and rejection, abuse, work place discrimination and isolation in schools and hospitals. We are hoping that the government, businesses, both local and multinational, powerful organisations such as the United Nations, Commonwealth and other interested parties will look at this report and take action in name of human rights, empathy and justice.

The results paint an alarming picture of extreme hardship with seemingly nowhere to turn:

  • An overwhelming majority (71%) of LGBT Nigerian respondents believed they were abused due to their gender identity or sexuality
  • While a large majority have experienced discrimination, abuse, and harassment, the survey found most cases are not reported due to shame (14%), fear of reprisal (12%), and a belief that no one would help (6%)
  • 12% of respondents were told by doctors or nurses that their health problems were their own fault, and 12% reported experiencing verbal abuse from doctors or nurses
  • 65% have claimed that there was more than one perpetrator and in up to 42% the perpetrators were straight
  • Greater mental distress was associated with reduced life satisfaction 

LGBTQ Nigerians shared their stories at greater length in the survey, some of which are highlighted below:

The “Not dancing to their music” report was released with support from GLAAD, Sigrid Rausing Trust, Baker McKenzie, and Canada Fund for Local Initiatives.

The Bisi Alimi Foundation provides unbiased information, education, training, and development projects with a focus on sexuality and gender in Nigeria. The non-profit organization seeks to build a wealth of knowledge through education, training, and community engagement as a means of reducing homophobia in Nigeria. GLAAD has worked closely with the organization in the past to accelerate LGBTQ acceptance worldwide, including interviewing Bisi Alimi, himself.

View the full report and its executive summary here.

 To bring attention to LGBTQ Nigerians’ experiences and the issues outlined in the report, you can spread the word about their stories by sharing more quote graphics: