2020 – A New Era

The Journey so far….

Building on our unwavering mandate which is to “reconcile human sexuality and individual spirituality regardless of age, sex, tribe, belief, sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression, Levites Initiative for Freedom and Enlightenment (LIFFE) have continued to deliver selfless, unique and essential services to the community of persons that we serve and are committed to defend. Through education, skills development and policy advocacy, we have driven the message of equality, inclusion and social justice for sexual and gender minorities living within Delta State, Nigeria.

We are particular and strategic in our commitment to support young gay, lesbian, bisexual, intersex, Trans and Queer persons of faith and none who are on their journey of self actualization and soul emancipation through spirituality and sexuality enlightenment, developing talents in music production and promoting their sexual reproductive health and religious rights. We are able to achieve these feats through grass-root community organizing, peer support networks, sensitization workshops, music instrumental training, digital audio music production, advocacy campaigns and round-table conversations with stakeholders and state actors in Delta State, Nigeria.

Since 2016, our activities have cut across annual capacity building workshops on the issues of human rights, faith traditions and sexual rights; advocacy campaigns against blackmail and extortion, legal and psycho-social support, digital audio studio setup, HIV prevention awareness, treatment, care and support, daily counseling and social behavioral change communication.

Moving forward…..

As an organisation, 2019 had been a productive and successful year and we are grateful to all our members, allies, partners and donors for their steadfast support and uncompromising assistance. It would have been impossible for us to serve and impact our community without your tremendous supports. We equally look forward to your continued support in this new year.

At this moment in time where aggressive homophobia and transphobia have taken root in the fabrics of our society as it is evident in the reoccurring incidents of blackmail and extortion, police arbitrary arrest and prosecution, mob sexual violence and the recent social media uproars against homosexuality, there is a need for radical visibility of GLBITQ persons and subtle grass-root sensitization within families and communities not overlooking religious dialogue and advocacy. Being mindful of the fact that same sex marriage prohibition act is the most challenging factor towards the actualization of the aforementioned goals, our organisation still provides essential services through HIV treatment, care and support for gay and trans persons and this is our entry point of action.

That been said, we want to state emphatically that it is the highest height of hypocrisy for the Nigerian government to create barriers that limits access to health care and social support by making laws that criminalizes gay persons but still receives foreign aid to provide healthcare service on-behalf of the criminalized population and still deny their existence and shared humanity.

In this new era and beginning of a decade, 2020 provides a great opportunity for us to scale-up our work and continue to build on the amazing services we provide for our community. It is our delight to continue in our effort to strengthen grass-root mobilization, identify progressive allies and engage in strategic advocacy with religious leaders and state actors. Synergy and partnership is the gateway toward a productive advocacy. Nigeria is a country for all persons and no one should be left behind based on their sexual orientations or gender identities. We are committed to our pledge to be the voice of the voiceless and the face of the faceless. We are more than committed to social change, gender equality, ending homophobia and destabilizing patriarchy in Nigeria and West Africa.

Happy holidays and a productive new year from all of us at Levites Initiative!

LIFFE’s advocacy visit to traditional ruler and commissioner of police in Delta State

On March 5, delegates from LIFFE visited the obi (traditional leader), Senator Nosike Ikpo of Ibusa town, and the Delta State commissioner of police, Muhammad Mustafa, to inform them about a group of local criminals.

Delegates from Levites Initiative for Freedom and Enlightenment (LIFFE) visit with Senator Nosike Ikpo the obi (traditional leader) of Ibusa town. For security, the LIFFE members’ faces are not shown.

That gang repeatedly lured people, including gay men, to their hideouts in Ibusa town, where they would beat them, rob them, extort them of their valuables, and then leave them naked on the street. In many African counties, closeted gay men are frequent victims of such crimes, with blackmailers threatening to out them unless they turn over their valuables and drain their bank account.

In a recent incident, a young man [name withheld] was lured to a location where the criminals beat him, raped him, robbed him and withdrew money from his bank account using his ATM debit cards. After the incident, he tested positive for HIV.

The issue was reported to Levites Initiative for Freedom and Enlightenment (LIFFE), which advocates for human rights for all people, regardless of their sexual orientation. The organization resolved to discuss the problem with local authorities in hopes of putting an end to the menace and bringing the perpetrators to book.

In response to the visits from LIFFE delegates, the commissioner of police and the obi of the town both pledged their support.

Some police staff members at the meeting and the chief at his palace acknowledged that they were already aware of the crimes.

Samuel Uchenna, executive director of Levites Initiative for Freedom and Enlightenment, presents an award to Muhammad Mustafa, the police commissioner for Delta State, Nigeria. The award honors him as an effective and friendly police officer.

The commissioner officially introduced the delegates to the State Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to lay the groundwork for a possible partnership. Those delegates included Uchenna Samuel, LIFFE’s executive director, and Mike Daemon, activist, journalist and publisher of the NoStringsNG advocacy website.

Uchenna emphasized the importance of ending the extortionists’ reign:

“It is very pertinent that people know that blackmail, extortion, and all related offenses are crimes — regardless of the victim’s sexuality. Perpetrators should be held responsible and brought to book by the appropriate authorities. It is based on this fact that my organization has taken steps to address this issue.”

Levites Initiative for Freedom & Enlightenment (LIFFE) partnered with Interfaith Diversity Network of West Africa for the project.