Alli Ojo, an actress and model in Nigeria, is facing a homophobic backlash and even the risk of arrest after she came out as lesbian on social media.
“I’ve decided to explore this 2019 and I’m starting with my sexuality,” said Ojo in an Instagram video. “I’m going to coming out straight: I’m… gay, yay!” she exclaimed.
Ojo continued, “I’m trying new things and I urge you to support me. Even if you don’t I don’t give a fuck.”
She added once again enthusiastically, “I’m gay!”
The video appears to have been removed from her account but has been shared widely on other platforms. It has been watched more than 370,000 times on the Instablog9ja account and received hundreds of comments, many attacking the actress with homophobic and abusive remarks.
One individual stated: “Why is she still walking freely? She should be arrested and jailed for 17 years in an all male prison where she’s the only female there. Let her be released after that 17 years let’s see if she will still be yelling I am gay.”
Another suggested that “…broken hearts causing some of these folks turning gay recently. Most of them just need a counselling session after a broken relationship instead of embracing gay as an alternative.”
Ojo later posted a follow-up video in response to the backlash against her coming out. Appearing upset, she defiantly insisted that people could talk all they wanted but “I don’t care… Be yourself because you live only fucking once.”
Nigeria has some of the most repressive anti-LGBTI legislation in the world. A 2014 federal law prohibits same-sex marriages and relationships with a penalty of up to 14 years in prison. It further stipulates 10 years in jail for public displays of same-sex affection as well as membership or support of LGBTI groups. Under colonial-era legislation, anyone found guilty of engaging in homosexual acts can also be jailed for 14 years.
According to a report released in December by The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERs) the human rights of approximately 286 LGBTI Nigerians were violated last year. The incidents reported included blackmail, extortion, invasion of privacy and arbitrary and illegal arrests.