Homosexuality is a sensitive topic in Nigeria. On January 13, 2014, former president, Goodluck Jonathan, signed into law the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, which imposes penalties of up to 14 years in jail for anyone caught in the act. And over the years, some homosexuals have found themselves beaten to death or even lynched by Nigerians.
For years, the Nigerian cinema has struggled with proper depiction of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community.
Stories that actually explore their experiences are not told for reasons such as moral and cultural beliefs; and when they are told, their representation is at best a bad caricature of their realities with film-makers repeatedly using long-running homosexual stereotypes for comedy.
Nevertheless, in recent times, there have been films that explore their experiences in a more engaging manner. These films, according to the producers, are aimed at bringing about a society that is free from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.
Here are five Nollywood films that advocate for the protection of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Nigerians.
1. "Hell or High Water"
"Hell or High Water" tells the story of a young married pastor, who is loved and adored by the members of his church.
Things take a different turn for him when he has to confront his sexuality - an act that breaks him spiritually, emotionally and psychologically.
The story explores the reality of sexuality amidst spirituality and family.
In "Hell or High Water," Gbolahan (Enyinna Nwigwe) and Kelechi (Daniel K Daniel) represent hundreds of Nigerians, who, out of the fear of becoming second-class citizens, bullied, excommunicated from church or even killed, marry a wife for appearances.
"Hell or High Water" doesn't justify, support or condemn homosexuality. It simply starts a necessary conversation about homphobia, sexuality and religion in Nigeria.
2. "We Don't Live Here Anymore"
Aimed at tackling homophobia, "We Don't Live Here Anymore" tells the story of Tolu Bajulaiye and Chidi Egwuonwu, two teenage boys who find themselves embroiled in a high stake scandal that could alter the course of their future.
With an impending expulsion at bay, Tolu's mother, Nike, who is a powerful matriarch, pulls all the strings within her palm and resets the tone into what would become a battle of class, blackballing and a triggering society ready to punish anything besides the status-quo.
3. "Everything In Between"
“Everything In Between” is a drama series that explores issues of sacrifice, love, sexuality, and societal pressure.
The series tells the stories of three young professionals; Emma Okoye, Dayna Elliot and Demola Ogunjimi, and their struggle to conform to what is considered the norm in the Nigerian society.
In one of the episodes, Dayna's husband threatens to expose her relationship with her lesbian partner if she doesn't send him a particular amount of money.
4. "Veil of Silence"
A documentary, "Veil of Silence" draws attention to the experiences of gay persons in Nigeria. It also highlights the impact of laws that promote discrimination.
The short documentary which was released in 2013, also features interviews from activists, lawyers and public health professionals.
The documentary, which also explores the same sex marriage prohibition Act, was shot before the law was signed by former President Goodluck Jonathan on January 13, 2014.
Exploring friendship, secrecy and sexuality. "Unspoken" tells the story of four people and their intertwining relationships.
It is just two days before Lola’s wedding, and her maid of honour Sandra discovers a secret that wrecks her own relationship with her boyfriend of over four years, and could well jeopardise the relationship of Lola and her groom-to-be.