Tragedy of Misrepresenting and Under-reporting Gender and Sexual Minorities in Nigeria

Today, we can say that most Nigerians have an increased awareness of homosexuality, not minding the fact that majority still maintains a negative view of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people. The increased awareness of this group of Nigerians may not be unconnected with the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Law of 2014 and the huge media attention it attracted. Perhaps, it could also be tied to the fact that LGBT individuals and human rights organisations have become more visible in advocating for the respect of the rights of individuals who identify as members of the group, and now more deftly and promptly come to the aid of those who are victims of gross human rights abuse and violations as a result of perception of their gender and sexual orientation. Available facts indeed suggest that the 2014 law amplified the vulnerability of LGBT individuals to arbitrary arrests and detention, torture, mob violence and extortion, by private individuals and state actors alike. However, what is troubling is that these instances of violations are becoming increasingly dangerous and alarming, while adorning a garb of legitimacy that is unbecoming of a civilized society. At Projekthope, we were concerned about the role that the Nigerian media has played and is playing with their coverage of LGBT issues and how that has impacted on people’s orientation and understanding. Undeniably, LGBT members are not just seeking or attempting to be integrated into the Nigerian society; they have always been part of the larger community, and have peacefully cohabited with others overtime. So, what changed?

Guidebook to Reporting Gender and Sexuality

This Guidebook is designed to help journalists respond appropriately to the challenges of reporting the changing texture of community reaction to issues of gender and sexuality to reflect the growing necessity for tolerance on the part of the people, as it seeks greater understanding of the realities that those who identify as belonging to any of the broad group of lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender people (LGBT) continually face. The media has a vital role to play in forward marching the process of making our communities more inclusive and tolerant.

The guide is certain to help journalists avoid the pitfalls of language, emphasis and ignorance as they report about issues and on members of the community, and shows what impact inaccuracies or insensitivity may have on the people who bear the brunt of outcomes of reports. It provides a freeze of our changing world, highlights agenda for development on gender and sexuality and draw on examples of best practice from various media contexts about how best to deal with the most intimate and private aspects of people’s lives, which can be difficult to write about and discuss publicly in the context of cultural sensitivities and taboos surrounding sexuality. Importantly, it shows how the average LGBT person define himself/herself, how their context embrace or reject them, how they are shaped by the world they live in and how they have a space in our society.