via The Guardian, stories compiled by Gay Middle East

Bisi Alimi, from NigeriaBisi Alimi, from Nigeria (an IRMA member!)
In 2002, I was at university in Nigeria and standing for election. A magazine wrote about me and exposed me as being gay. This led the university to set up a disciplinary committee. I was very nearly dismissed. When I did graduate, people wanted to refuse me my certificate on the grounds that I did not have good enough morals to be an alumnus of the university. While this was going on, the then-president, Olusegun Obasanjo, declared that there were no homosexuals in Nigeria, and that such a thing would not be allowed in the country.

I talked with a friend of mine, who is a famous Nigerian talkshow host, about challenging this opinion. Nobody had come out publicly before. So, in October 2004, I appeared on her breakfast show, New Dawn with Funmi Iyanda”. I talked about my sexuality, the burden of the HIV epidemic in the gay community.

The reaction was immediate and violent. I was subjected to brutality from the police and the community. I was disowned by my family and lost many friends, including in the gay community. They were afraid to know me. I was isolated, with no support and no job. The TV show was taken off the air by the government. It led to the introduction of the Same Sex Prohibition bill of 2006. All I had done was say who I was. Three years later I appeared on the BBC World Service. I repeated what I had said on television in Nigeria and suggested my government was using attacks on homosexuality to help cover up its own corruption.

On my arrival back to Nigeria, I was arrested, detained and beaten by the police. For a month, until I fled back to the UK in April 2007, my life was in constant danger.

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