The Initiative for Equal Rights in partnership with Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human rights organized a workshop of 29 participants of the LGBT community in Lagos state, last month. The workshop was aimed at facilitating community mobilization and empowerment to enhance LGBT activism in the country.
Focus to enhance LGBT rights is now shifting back to concentrate on mobilizing the community as against the conventional advocacy and sensitization of stakeholders such as: media, human rights lawyers and other civil society organization.
“Over the years, TIERs had organized sensitization workshops for human rights lawyers and media personnel and now we had thought that mobilizing the affected community and empowering them with advocacy skills is a way to go.” Olumide Makanjuola- TIERs program director told BTM.
“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.” Ekene Okwuegbunam- a lawyer and TIERs security protection officer said.
Furthermore he said, “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 E.g. film, drama, song, poetry, Information Education and Communication materials.”
This strategy implored by TIERs brings back the stonewall riots to mind. The stonewall riots were a series of spontaneous violent demonstrations against a police raid that took place in the early hours of June 28, 1969, at the stonewall inn, in the Greenwich Village neighbourhood of New York City.
They are frequently cited as the first instance in American history when the people in the Gay community fought back against a government-sponsored system that persecuted sexual minorities.
The Nigerian homosexual community can be said to be in a similar situation as the Americans were 42years ago. In the face of this stigma and discrimination, the homosexual community in Lagos state may as well be getting ready for this kind of intervention to confront the status quo.