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!

LEVITES INITIATIVE FOR FREEDOM AND ENLIGHTENMENT COMMEMORATES IDAHOTB2018

Human Life is sacred. To live is a gift given to humanity for edification, adornment and enhancement. Each life has the potential to create, nurture and mature visions that can advance the universe and elevate humanity. Education is a continuous process and no knowledge is a waste. Therefore, there is a constant need for re-evaluation, re-introduction and reformation of our values, opinion and convictions as regards the sanctity and sacredness of life; irrespective of our diverse beliefs and traditions.

This is a call for a sober reflection and honest contrition on the lives that were lost, humans that were beaten, rejected or disowned and minds that were battered through violence, discrimination, attack, abuse and condemnation towards their sexual orientation or how they decide to express their gender.

The quality of each life is not measured by the individual sexual orientation or gender identity rather by their ability to produce, perform and empower. It is sacrilegious to denial, disgrace or destroy any life based on sexual relations. Humanity is defective without sexuality. Humans are sexual creatures.

According to Rev. Jide Macaulay in his contribution on the anthology Behold I Make All Things New, “Sexuality is the sexual knowledge, beliefs, attitude, values and behaviors of individuals. It includes anatomy, physiology and the biochemistry of sexual response and reproductive system. Other factors include gender identity, sexual orientation, roles and personality, as well as thoughts, attachments, physical and emotional expression and relationships.”

Therefore, we should condemn all criminalization of sexuality that is outside the dictated norm, i.e. heterosexuality. Human sexuality is not static and gender equally isn’t binary.

Religious indoctrination, cultural acquisition and political legislation have contributed heavily towards the spread of Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia in Africa. While the rest of the global north is evolving and embracing inclusion and affirmance of sexual minorities, Africa remains the bedrock of oppression, abuse and destruction.

Nigeria especially have proven to be the African Hades for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex persons. Following the passage of the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act 2014, which places a penalty of 14years imprisonment for LGBTI persons and 10 years imprisonment for their allies; there have been an up rise in blackmail, extortion, mob violence, arbitrary arrest and attack on persons based on real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

Therefore, in commemoration of IDAHOTB2018 Levites Initiative for Freedom and Enlightenment call to mind and honor all African LGBTI persons who have lost their lives to Homophobia, Transphobia or Biphobia. We call to mind their sacrifices and honor their courage. Their death is the step on which we stand to represent, promote, defend and advocate for religious affirmation and political inclusion of all persons irrespective of sexual or gender identity.

We equally call on the Nigerian government and indeed the entire African governments to end all discriminatory laws based on sexual relations. In other to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2030, African governments must endeavor to protect all lives, embrace equality and model social justice.

Religious communities have the duty to promote unity, love and acceptance. No human should be denied the right to life, freedom of worship, association or expression and right to privacy. Religious leaders in Africa should desist from propagating quack theology and archaic dogmas rather should embrace the tremendous scientific evidence on human sexuality to enhance theological improvement and ethical refinement.

#IDAHOTB

#AlliancesForSolidarity.