- Title: NIGERIA: Nigerian movie tackling homosexuality sparks outrage
- Date: 11th June 2012
- Summary: STREET SCENES (SOUNDBITE) (English) OKOCHUKWU, LAGOS RESIDENT SAYING: "There are certain sanctities that even our Africa society does not allow, our law does not permit them and so I believe out politicians they don't encourage it, but I am not saying there is no Judas amongst the twelve."
- Embargoed: 26th June 2012 13:00
- Location: Nigeria
- Country: Nigeria
- Topics: Politics,Religion,Lifestyle
- Reuters ID: LVA7QI5MLGITL4QB0KWH1RRIZLB5
- Story Text: Nigeria's seasoned film maker Dickson Iroegbu's life changed drastically in 2007, when he began working on a movie highlighting issues about homosexuality in Nigeria.
The movie, titled "Law 58" revolves around a family struggling with their son's homosexuality, which is frown upon in many African cultures.
Released this year, the movie has launched intense debates surrounding the issue of homosexuality and gay people in the country.
The 34 year-old Iroegbu who has several popular Nollywood films titles under his belt said that confronting the issues of same sex relationships on film was not easy and the societal attitude did not help.
But a decision by Nigeria' s National Assembly in 2011 to approve a bill that criminalises same sex relationships and gay marriages spurred on the filmmaker to make his movie.
Although Iroegbu says that he does not approve of homosexuality, his film aims to draw attention to same sex unions in Nigeria and let the audience draw their own conclusions on the issue.
Iroegbu said he wanted to tackle a controversial topic, that has not been sufficiently explored with depth in Nollywood.
But making the movie came at a great price, as the filmmaker says he was shunned by friends and family who suspected his sexuality because of the subject matter of his movie.
"My family is not living with me for four years since I made this film, so if it is whether I have lost things, I have lost plenty, I have lost friends, friends who may not necessarily have been involved in the act but who thought by the rumor that was being spread that I am gay, because they now started reconciling it with that okay...maybe that is the reason why his wife left him, maybe she found out that he is gay but that is a lie," he said.
Being gay or a homosexual in Nigeria is considered taboo and those in same sex relationships live in fear and face up to 14 years in prison under Nigeria law if caught.
Many in Nigeria have spoken against the movie and its controversial subject matter.
"There are certain sanctities that even our Africa society does not allow, our law does not permit them and so i believe out politicians they don't encourage it, but I am not saying there is no Judas amongst the twelve," said Okochukwu, a Lagos businessman.
Christians have also joined the debate, condemning the movie for being "ungodly" and against the principles of Christianity which forbids homosexuality.
"You know what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah, God rained fire upon them, so nobody is praying for fire to come upon them, so the church is seriously against it and we are preaching against the practice of same sex marriage," he said.
Despite some strong opinions held by some members of the public, DVDs copies of "Law 58" have been flying off the shelves ever since its release, at a cost of 200 Naira (USD 1.3 cents) a DVD.
Sarah Martins, a DVD vendor in Lagos said that at one time, she sold 30 copies of the film in less than a day and that many people are still inquiring about the copies.
"We don't have any remaining because people really ask for it, we sold everything out there are none left here," she said.
Iroegbu says his movie is not aimed to condemn homosexuality, which is a personal issue, but it should also not become a political one, citing US president Barack Obama's approval of same sex marriage in the US.
"Nobody is saying that you shouldn't live your life, if you are gay it is your life, but as a leader, for you to now get up and empower and legitimize that act then something is wrong, if Barack Obama succeeds with this elections, in November and wins, may be God is postponing the dooms day of America, but if God, as Americans claim they believe in God, and their trust is truly in God, the failure of Barack Obama in November will be that God is sending a message that he could not ignore the people who say that they have the trust in Him," he said.
Iroegbu is now working on his next project, a film about child soldiers of Africa.
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