Debates, Resources

Change in Sexual Identity by Ayeni Otito-Jesu Joshua


On the topic of discourse today, we all have our biases, and we all have our opinions but my demand from you today is this: forget about your biases, partialities, preferences and preconceptions and do one thing for me: concentrate on the message of my speech today because, the topic for today’s debate is not exclusively addressing the reasons for marriage between two men or women but that if there is an existence of such, what should be the reaction of the society?

In the same vein, there is a need to illuminate on the concept of sexual identity because, oftentimes, we mistake sexual identity with gender identity and here is the thin line. According to the World Health Organization, “Gender refers to the socially constructed characteristics of women and men, such as norms, roles, and relationships of and between groups of women and men and sex on the other hand can be referred to as the anatomical and physiological embodiment of an individual. Thus, while gender identity can be said to be feminine or masculine, sexual identity can be known to be gay, lesbian, straight, bisexual or transgender.

According to United States Agency for International Development, acceptance of people with change in sexual identity in the society allows them to achieve their economic potentials when they become educated and trained to improve their productivity when they are treated similarly in the labour market. Similarly, On May 17, 2019 when the World Bank Group commemorated the International Day against Homophobia, Trans-phobia, and Biphobia, it was stated clearly that the exclusion based on sexual orientation and identity is costly to both the individuals concerned and a country’s economy and society as a whole. Therefore, as provided above, we can concretely agree that there is a relationship between the acceptance, inclusion and recognition of people with change in sexual identity and a stronger economy. And if you are still in doubt like my opponents, kindly wear your shoes and take a journey to the US, Mexico or Australia to evaluate how grown their economy had been since they accepted the individuals with different sexual identities into their Society.

In the same vein, affirming that the Society should not be mandated to accept change in sexual identity is a form of discrimination in itself and every form of discrimination is a form of inequality. According to the United Nations, there is a target to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 of which SDG 4 represents reduced inequality. So, if it is our desire to reduce inequality in our Society, would it be exact of my opponent to go against the provisions of the United Nations because, let’s face it, the exclusion of people with disability is not the only form of inequality, but every form of disequilibrium, imbalance and denial of some people in the field of social acceptance is a form of inequality and if in some 11 years to that target, we are still debating whether or not we should accept some people into the society or not, then there is a problem somewhere.

Now, look, it would be wrong for my opponents to attack from the cultural and religious angles by saying that such is not practiced in Africa because, according to Professor Kenneth Chukwuemeka Nwoko, an historian from McPherson University, female husbands exist in over 30 societies some of which include the Zulu of Southern Africa, the Nuer of East Africa and even in the Igbo of southeastern Nigeria, we have the woman to woman marriage where a widow is permitted to marry another woman and as such gain ownership of the child that woman gives birth to when impregnated by a man. In other words, the practice allows for greater freedom of sexuality for the wives as they could have boyfriends and anonymous men whose only duty was to supply them with sperm. So, the fact that something has not been circularly practiced in an environment should not give my opponents that audacity to claim that it never exists.

Furthermore, from the religious angle, we totally agree that Christianity, Islam and some many others do not accept such practices and as such, is a sin. But then, come to think of it, if we are of the opinion that we need to change the ideology of these individuals, would it be right to condemn them in the bid to correct them? Even Jesus said that ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners’ and for them to get saved, he accepted them. Therefore, if as fellow individuals, we want to correct an anomaly, is it a sane thing to chase the sinners away like my opponents want us to do?

Ladies and gentlemen, change is inevitable and there is nothing we can do to disrupt change. Thousand years ago, high-heeled shoes were initially designed for upper-class men to use when hunting on horseback but as a result of social change, it is now considered feminine. Same as the killing of twins was in vogue several years ago; due to cultural change it is now an abomination. Similarly just that people of the same identity have not been marrying in the past does not mean it cannot occur in the present because, as human evolution erupts, Change occurs and if for the sake of backing our value conviction, we do not accept to accept the change that has occurred in sexual identity. Then we’ll need to leave the darkness of ignorance and step into the light of wisdom just as the theme for Jaw War 2019 states.