A Nigerian man told the BBC his ‘conversion therapist’ flogged him until he lapsed into unconsciousness. The interview comes five years after former president Goodluck Johnson signed the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act (SSMPA). Both the man, and a lesbian from the African country, described the practice of Nigerian conversion therapy to the BBC.
The SSMPA punishes same-sex marriage, civil unions or other relationships with up to 14 years jail. Also, it criminalises any connection with any form of gay organisation or any display of same-sex ‘amorous attraction’. Either of those incurs a 10-year sentence.
The man spoke of growing up in a Christian family in Nigeria.
“Everybody sees me as an abomination. I shouldn’t be something that should exist.
“I grew up in a Christian family, a very religious family that believes same-sex relationships to be demonic.”
After coming out to his sister, she invited him to a meeting. However, she turned up at the meeting with a ‘prophet’ who forced the man to endure conversion therapy.
Nigerian conversion therapy for men
“He would come in at intervals to do some ‘spiritual exercises’… which included stripping me naked and flogging me…
“The first day he did it about seven times. Coming at different intervals for seven times. He did the same thing the second day. It became 14 times.
“Then on the third day, out of exhaustion and the pains I was going through, I passed out.”
A Nigerian lesbian who volunteered for conversion therapy because of guilt over her sexuality also spoke to the BBC.
Nigerian conversion therapy for women
“I raised my legs and then they poured oil into my vagina. I don’t know the contents of what was in the oil because it was kind of peppery, but it made me quite uncomfortable.
“For me, it was intrusive because what has my vagina got to do with deliverance?
“But at the time I didn’t really know much so, for me, I was ready to just do anything to take the whole feeling of same-sex attraction. I was ready to just do anything to make it go away.”
Xeenarh Mohammed from The Initiative for Equal Rights in Nigeria told the BBC the law made it easier for Nigerian police to target gay and lesbian people.
She said the police use it “as a cover to basically target people that they find to not conform to masculinities in the way that they imagine… They detain people like that and extort them for money.”
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