By Our Correspondent
A couple discovered to be homosexuals narrowly escaped being lynched by a group of irate youths in Benin City yesterday.
Homosexuality is frowned at in Nigeria and considered a taboo in all States of the country which are deeply cultural and religious.
Our reporter learnt that luck ran out of the gay couple whose names were given as Raphael Inegbenebor and Osasu Ede, after they blew their own cover and mistakenly exchanged romantic gestures at a local bar in Ekehwan Road axis of Benin City.
Eye witnesses told our reporter that the couple, who were already being suspected in the neighborhood of being involved in the ungodly act, due to the fact that they were constantly in each other’s company, were caught exchanging a quick kiss at the bar.
An eye witness who identified himself as Peter Osas told this newspaper that him and two others approached the couple and demanded the truth about their sexuality.
He said “Although they initially attempted to deny, but they later confessed to us that they were homosexuals and pleaded for our understanding. On hearing their confession we started beating them and called on other youths around to join us in teaching them a lesson they will never forget.”
Another eye witness who simply gave his name as Anthony, added: “We needed to beat the demons out of them, because only a demon possessed man will claim to be in love with another man. That is totally unacceptable in our society and in this country.”
However, Leadership was informed that the two managed to escape from their attackers when an argument occurred on whether they should be taken to the police station or murdered extrajudicially.
According to Anthony, “The two of them managed to escape in the course of our argument. Some youths said we should take them to the police station while others wanted them to be killed instantly to send a strong message of how much homosexuality is abhorred in our society. We are still looking for them, we know their identities, whenever they are caught they will either meet their end or be handed over to the police,” he said.
When our reporter visited Inegbenebor’s family home, his mother Mrs Victoria Inegbenebor, confirmed that the family had known that Raphael was a gay for some time now, adding that their worst fears has just come to pass.
She said “I have always been afraid for his life since the day he told me he was a homosexual because I know that is something forbidden in this place. He was lucky to have escaped death yesterday, how many times will he be that lucky?” the visibly emotional mother said.
Choking of her words she added, “We heard they were stripped naked and beaten with all kinds of weapons. Imagine my son being put through that ordeal and I can’t do anything to help him. Raphael hasn’t been home since yesterday, we have no idea where is he hiding now. I am scared for his life, my son’s life is really in danger, both the police and neighbourhood youths are searching for him and his partner Osasu” she said.
However, efforts to get reactions from Raphael’s boyfriends family was met with a harsh reception. A member of the family who refused to give his name, harshly told our reporter that he has no idea who Osasu is.
Pressed harder, he simply stated: “Please go away, there is no one called Osasu in this house anymore, the Osasu we use to have has since been disowned. We have no connection with him anymore, he is no longer a member of this family. We cannot identify with anyone who will bring shame and a curse upon our family name,” after which he slammed the door shut leaving our reporter standing there.
Same sex marriage remain not just controversial but also a subject of taboo in Africa, where the need to sustain the fabric of family is considered crucial.
A BBC report of 11 March last year, captioned ‘Nigeria Gay Activists Speak Out’, quoted gay rights activists as saying the bill to outlaw same sex marriage would lead to widespread human rights abuse, however, the government, churches and other religious and cultural groups have maintained that the practice is an abomination which cannot be allowed to take root in Nigeria.
A bill to outlaw it and place punishment on anyone who practices homosexuality or supports it, is presently before the National Assembly.