Death threats as Nigerian LGBT activist plans to enter politics

Bisi Alimi

Bisi Alimi

A Nigerian LGBT and HIV activist’s announcement that he plans to run for public office in 2019 has led to a barrage of death threats.

On Saturday, Bisi Alimi tweeted that after two years of consideration he had “decided to throw my hat into Nigeria politics”.

He went on to write: “Being the change I want to see is about challenging the status quo and making people believe there is alternative.

“It’s not going to be easy and threats will be made, but Nigeria belongs to all of us.”

His prediction was quickly fulfilled, as reported by Nigerian Newspapers Today, which published a series of hate fuelled reactions.

“We are happily waiting. We shall gather our hands and beat you to stupor,” said one commentator, while another wrote: “pleas don’t forget to come with the first lady . So that u both can die together….Na silent pistol I go buy wait whona.”

A further example included: “After welcoming you home, we shall ensure that none of you escape, because we are going to burn and send you to hell, where you all belong!”

Alimi’s only response was a tweet: “Don’t be deceived, your silence is not golden. Never shut up against the trolls and bullies.”

Bisi Alimi and his husband (Twitter)

Bisi Alimi and his husband (Twitter)

Alimi is believed to be the first gay man to come out on Nigerian TV, in 2004. The resulting backlash and threats eventually forced him to flee to the UK in 2007, where he is currently based.

Earlier this month he was once again in the Nigerian headlines after he married his British partner, Anthony, in the UK. Alimi runs the Bisi Alimi Foundation and is a consultant with the World Bank on the economic impact of homophobia.

Nigeria has some of the most repressive anti-LGBT legislation in the world. A 2014 federal law prohibits same-sex marriages and relationships with a penalty of up to 14 years in prison and stipulates 10 years in jail for public displays of same-sex affection as well as 10 years for membership or support of LGBT groups.

Under older colonial-era legislation, anyone found guilty of engaging in homosexual acts can also be jailed for 14 years.

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