My country has rejected and mistreated me because I’m gay.


Dear Henry,

Being gay is definitely not bad or immoral, though many people in countries around the world may believe this to be true. Nigeria is not known for its gay-friendliness; in fact, both gay and lesbian same-sex encounters are illegal within the country, and offenses are punishable either by up to 14 years in prison or by death by stoning in areas that have adopted Shari’a law. No wonder you are

describing inhuman treatment! I cannot imagine having to deal with this type of oppression, and you have my deepest sympathies for what you have lived through.

Here in Canada, as well as in most of North America and Europe, being gay may still carry a social stigma, but there is nothing illegal about engaging in sexual activities with people of the same sex, and we believe that mistreating gays and lesbians qualifies as an abuse of human rights–as well as plain old-fashioned violence. There is still social discrimination at work, which might cause gays and lesbians to live closeted lives, but for the most part, people see the value in

tolerance for the diversity of sexual expression that falls under the LGBT rainbow. Though you may still encounter close-minded and religious individuals who view homosexuality as immoral, it is important to remember that THEY are the ones with the problem, and not you!

If you are suffering from the psychological effects of abuse and rejection by friends and family, it is important to seek psychiatric help from licensed professionals. Depending on where you live now, that help may be obtained by talking to your primary physician or CLSC/local clinic to get a recommendation for a therapist, or by seeking out private therapy or counseling. You may also want to look for a support group for gays and lesbians like PFLAG (http://www.pflagcanada.ca) that can help you direct your search. Just remember that you’re not alone, and you don’t ever have to suffer for your sexuality in silence. Reach out to your community for emotional support, and see what you can find.

Good luck,

Laura

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