It was not long ago that Kiki Mordi was celebrated in Nigeria for her heroic report on the pervasive nature of sexual harassment of Nigerian women in universities in the country.
Her documentary, broadcast by the BBC, was greeted with supports and even got the Nigerian Senate to dust its cupboard for the sexual harassment bill.
But Kiki Mordi did not get such love on Friday after tweeting in support of same-sex marriage.
“It’s almost 2020 & same sex marriage is still illegal in Nigeria,” Kiki tweeted on Friday evening. “Like two people (of the same sex) can love themselves and want to build a family for themselves just like you & I but can’t because it’s illegal for them. A damn shame! We’re already on the wrong side of history.”
In a country that is largely unfriendly to LGBTQ people, it was no surprise that her tweet generated intense backlashes.
“Well, you just came out straight on what you actually want to do,” tweeted Tosin Olugbenga, a software and data engineer. “It’s obvious you are tired of the hide and seek game. Dear Kiki, you can leave Nigeria and relocate to the right side of history and enjoy what you love to do.”
Mark Oladeinde, who tweets from @Don_Moschino said: “When the sex scandal of lecturers documented by the BBC broke out, I was happy that we had a “Kiki Mordi” to fight for sexually harassed students. But now I feel sad being fully convinced that you took up that role purely based on vengeance rather than seeking justice.”
Another Twitter user @yabazidon accused Kiki of covertly advancing “the devilish agendas of the West for Nigeria.” By agendas, (s)he meant bestiality and same-sex marriage, which (s)he claimed were tacitly referenced in the sex-for-grades documentary that launched Kiki Mordi to stardom.
But Kiki had supporters, too.
“I AM IN FULL SUPPORT OF THE LEGALISATION OF LGBTQ,” Ayo Ladipo (@Ayo_Lad) wrote. “Unfollow and block me if you have to. But don’t come tomorrow and say you didn’t know my stand.”
A graphic designer Ifa Funsho (@funshographix) insisted homosexuality is natural in a series of tweets.
“The people saying same-sex shouldn’t be accepted in the society are just ignorant. A lot of them are suffering from lack of PROPER education about nature,” Funsho tweeted, before adding “I support Kiki on this topic.”
“The comments on that kiki’s tweet exemplifies just how empty the opposition to LGBT rights are,” @Kayode_ani tweeted. “No sensible argument other than, “It’s just not what we do” and “How will we procreate?” Homophobia really has no argument. It’s only a question of cultural chauvinism.”
Nigeria criminalised of sexual relationships between people of the same sex in January 2014. The Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act (SSMPA), signed into law in 2014 by former President Goodluck Jonathan, was enacted on the premise that the Nigerian culture is antithetical to homosexuality.
“More than 90% of Nigerians are opposed to same-sex marriage. So, the law is in line with our cultural and religious beliefs as a people,” said Reuben Abati, who was the spokesman to former President Goodluck Jonathan who signed the SSMPA into law.
“I think that this law is made for a people and what the government has done is consistent with the preference of its environment.”
However, Kiki knew her opinion on same-sex relationship would make unpopular to some. In December 2018, she tweeted: “Let me talk on feminist or LGBTQ thing like 20 more will unfollow. Just wait.” She was right.