A Nigerian gay man, Victor Iringere has shared his experience as an homosexual in Nigeria before he fled the country to seek asylum in the UK.
In an interview with Metro.co.uk the 27-year-old who is now happily married to his husband recalled how the police desperately chased him in Lagos after he was caught kissing his boyfriend in the car.
According to him, he never imagined he would become a refugee, having come from a well-off family and launching his own business after studying mechanical engineering at university, until he realized it was difficult to live freely as an homosexual in Nigeria.
He noted that growing up in Nigeria, where homosexuality is a crime, and with a strict religious family who believe it is a sin, left him with no choice than to seek asylum in the Uk in 2017, with the hope of living life freely as a gay man.
Speaking about his childhood, Victor disclosed that growing up in a devout Pentecostal Christian household led to ‘a lot of self- hate’ during his teenage years. One day, overcome with guilt over his first sexual relationship with a boy in his class, 16-year-old Victor confided in his pastor, who urged him to tell his mother.
Over the next three years, Victor said he went through spiritual, psychological and religious methods of conversion therapy, which aims to attempt to change a person’s sexual orientation to heterosexual or gender identity to cisgender.
It wasn’t until Victor decided to travel overseas to at age 19, that he realized he could ‘live a life that ‘wasn’t shameful’ and came out as gay for the first time. He enjoyed relationships and got involved in the community, joining the LGBT+ society and working at a gay bar, before securing a job at a high-flying tech firm.
However, after he returned to Nigeria in late 2016, things worsened as his became ‘very aggressive’ and started forcing him through ‘traumatic’ all-night exorcisms, which his relatives described as ‘night vigils’ to ‘deliver him from homosexual demons’.
He said on one occasion, he was driven hours out of Lagos and told only that he was going to ‘The Mountain’, which he describes as a small church surrounded by forest.
“I didn’t know where in the world I was,’ he recalls. ‘I was there three days with no food or water. It was a dry fast – I was basically starved. There were 10 to 12 hours of prayer sessions every day, where the prophet and assistants would put me in a circle and jerk and push me around. They’re very violent prayers. You’re being slapped to get the demons out of you. They say they’re not hitting you, that they’re hitting the demons – but, it’s me.” he recalled.
In July 2017, Victor returned to Coventry and a friend urged him to seek asylum. That month, Victor applied for asylum based on sexual orientation and in March 2019 his asylum application was finally approved.
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