Gay Nigerian activist Bisi Alimi shares his compelling story

Today’s Out Spotlight is a Nigerian-born civil rights activist, and was the first gay Nigerian man to be interviewed on national TV in Nigeria.

Bisi Alimi was born in Nigeria in 1975, grew up and went on to attend the University of Lagos (Nigeria) pursuing a degree in theater. While as a student in 2003, he was outed by the university’s student newspaper during student government elections.

Homosexual activity is illegal in Nigeria, the conservative influences of the Muslim faith in the north and a large Christian presence in the south. It is punishable by death by stoning in all 12 states, or being sentenced up to 14 years of imprisonment. There is no legal protection against discrimination for LGBT Nigerians. Very few are out, and violence against those in the LGBT community is frequent. Legislation is pending to criminalize same-sex marriage throughout Nigeria.

Alimi was expelled from university in 2004, before he was able to receive his degree.

Later that year, he was selected to be the Nigerian face of homosexuality at the fourth National Conference on HIV/AIDS in Abuja. Also that year, he was brought onto Funmi Iyanda’s New Dawn talk show on the Nigerian Television Authority and it was here that he publicly came out before the nation and asked for acceptance from the public.

Almost immediately, there were repercussions for both Alimi and the interviewer. Almini received both love letters and death threats, and lost his home and his job. The New Dawn talk show’s Friday edition was canceled and further interviewees on the show were were screened by the NTA in a country where censorship against homosexuality is already tight.

Not deterred, in July 2005, Almini helped found the Independent Project for Equal Rights-Nigeria, serving as executive director of the organization’s Nigerian LGBT Youth Group. He also worked as director of the Alliance Rights, Nigeria’s youth programs.

In December 2007, he lost his partner to a chest infection, and which led to severe mental health issues dealing with his grief. His family and friends, came to his aide, supporting him and getting back on his feet and helping to take life one day at a time.

In 2008, Alimi was granted asylum by the United Kingdom, where he currently resides. He has become a spokesperson for African gay men in the UK working with several organizations in the LGTB community and help set up a project for newly arrived African gay immigrants. He was also elected a member of the IAS youth organizing member for the Mexico 2008 meeting and was a member of AMFAR review panel for the international grants for African MSM AIDS initiatives.

Almini also is a sexual health activist and works for Naz Project London which is provides sexual health and HIV prevention and support services to targeted Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities in London. “NPL aims to educate and empower communities to face up to the challenges of sexual health and the AIDS pandemic, and to mobilize the support networks that exist for people living with HIV/AIDS.”

At this time he working on his master’s degree in filmmaking with concentration on documentaries and is hoping to change views of Africans about homosexuality through movies and short films.

Source: LGBT Asylum News

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