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.


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.

In the 2020 Spartacus Gay Travel Index, Nigeria came in a very poor 190th place – out of a total of 202.

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.


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