As controversy continues to trail the recent passage of the Anti-gay Marriage Bill, Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has asked lawmakers in the National Assembly to go back to school in order to clearly understand the difference between public and private affairs.
A bill banning same-sex marriages was recently passed by the Senate. The bill, which makes same-sex marriage punishable by a 14-year jail term, still has to be ratified by the House of Representatives before it is signed into law by President Goodluck Jonathan.
Soyinka, who spoke with journalists on Friday in Calabar, Cross River State, shortly after he had delivered a lecture titled Faith, Science and the Morality of Knowledge, to mark the fifth convocation of the Cross River University of Technology, said he did not see any reason why lawmakers should bother themselves with legislation that deals with the private life of adults.
He said, “The problem with legislators is that they fail to distinguish between personal bills and interventions in private lives. That is the problem. I see no reason why they should intervene in the private lives of adults. What people do in their bedrooms is no business of mine. It should not be the business of legislators.
“But at the same time, I think other countries who are pointing fingers should look inwards and see whether they also do not practise the same kind of discrimination. That is where I disagree, but I think it is important we learn to distinguish between what is a public affair and what is a private affair.
“The legislators need to go back to school to learn the difference before they waste their time with what people do in their private bedrooms.”
On the activities of the fundamentalist Boko Haram sect, Soyinka, who restricted himself to the aspect that affects higher institutions, wondered why the security situation had degenerated to the extent that it affected one of the countryâ€™s earliest universities.
He said, “The aspect of Boko Haram that affects me in this environment is what is happening to institutions. I think it is a disgrace that we allow an institution to be closed down by a bunch of fanatics. I think it is a disgrace to the government; it is a disgrace to the entire university system. It is a disgrace to you and me that we accept to be intimidated out of what is our own proper environment of learning.
“University of Maiduguri as far as I am concerned is like the University of Ibadan, Ife, Lagos and we should be concerned about that. To talk about Boko Haram outside that concept requires a larger picture. Self-respecting people should never allow their institutions of learning to be closed down by a bunch of fanatics.”