by Leander Milbrecht
Bolu Okupe, 27 and currently residing in Paris, recently had his rainbow-coloured, self- confident coming out on social media. In an Instagram post, he announced he was “gay as f*ck”. His father, a key advisor and associate of two homophobic ex-presidents of Nigeria, didn’t take long to respond.
Due to his family background and his strongly homophobic home country, his outing has an important political message, because it draws attention to the difficult situation of the queer community in Nigeria.
His father’s homophobia did not break him
The post promptly went viral. Eventually, his father also caught wind of the post and responded to it via Twitter. Father of the Year 2021 – Doyin Okupe (68) can probably forget about this title. Instead of pride and love, there was only disapproval for his son.
I have been aware of this his new orientation for a while now.
He knows that as a Christian and a witness for Christ ( an evangelist) I am vehemently opposed to homosexuality as it runs contrary to the avowed precepts of my Christian faith.
— Doyin (@doyinokupe) January 21, 2021
He wrote in several tweets that he was facing a great spiritual challenge because of his son’s sexual orientation. However, he stressed that as a Christian he was convinced that he would emerge victorious.
Up to ten years in prison for a kiss
The father’s reaction is not surprising because Okupe worked in the government of both President Olusegun Obasanjo and President Goodluck Jonathan as an adviser. He was Special Assistant for Media and Publicity under Obasanjo and Senior Assistant for Public Affairs under Jonathan. The Nigerian government is strongly homophobic. In society, homosexuality is also a taboo.
Both presidents campaigned for stronger laws against and penalties for homosexuals. In 2007, Obasanjo introduced the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act after calling homosexuality “unholy and un-African”. Seven years later, after many amendments, the law was passed and signed by his successor Jonathan.
The Nigerian law already contained provisions that made homosexual sex illegal. The new law decreed that even someone who organises or participates in gay events, or publicly displays same-sex affection (this includes a kiss) can be punished with up to ten years in prison – as can someone who participates in a same-sex partnering ceremony, whether it takes place in Nigeria or abroad.
- okupe: By instagram.com/boluokupe/
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