Nigerian writer Chibuihe Obi allegedly kidnapped for writing about queerphobia


On 17 May, Nigerian writer, poet, and photographer Chibuihe Obi published an essay for Brittle Paper about the queerphobia he experienced in Nigeria. Since then, Obi has gone missing.

According to a Facebook post, those close with Obi believe he was kidnapped by a group of ‘homophobic thieves.’ Last heard from on 1 June, Obi is supposedly being held for ransom. The group allegedly responsible for the kidnapping is also targeting other LGBTI writers, threatening to ‘hunt them down and kill them.’

Chibuihe Obi

Chibuihe Obi

‘I’ve longed to find the queer body in Nigerian literature documented with dignity, with respect. To find the queer body portrayed as being wronged, as deserving justice,’ Obi wrote in that essay for Brittle Paper. ‘For to search for one’s self in literature and not find it or to find it perpetually twisted and shunned and vilified is also violence, a different kind of violence. Nigeria’s literary scene has not been fair to the queer body. It has not been fair to the queer narrative. There are holes and gaps, gullies even, that no one is willing to close.’

Indeed, Nigeria’s queerphobia extends beyond the literary scene. The Nigerian government’s 2014 law prohibiting same-sex marriage also criminalized public displays of affection between same-sex couples and halts the work of organizations looking to help LGBTI individuals.

According to Human Rights Watch, ‘The law imposes a 14-year prison sentence on anyone who “[enters] into a same-sex marriage contract or civil union,” and a 10-year sentence on individuals or groups, including religious leaders, who “witness, abet, and aid the solemnization of a same-sex marriage or union.” It imposes a 10-year prison sentence on those who “directly or indirectly make [a] public show of [a] same-sex amorous relationship” and anyone who “registers, operates, or participates in gay clubs, societies, and organizations,” including supporters of those groups.’

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