Journalists have been warned against holding back from alerting the public of looming dangers as soon as they are noticed.
The warning came from members of the academia and Civil Society Organisations who were part of a one-day seminar organized for journalists at the Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State (BCOS), Ibadan yesterday.
The seminar was organized by an Ibadan-based Non-Governmental Organisation, Projekt Hope Nigeria, to seek collaboration with newsrooms across the country in effort to bring to the public attention a possible health pandemic that may likely follow the neglect and misconception against the Nigeria’s gay community.
Steve Aborisade, the organisation’s national coordinator, lamented the devastating impact of failure of the Nigerian media to report the truth about the group on the general health of the nation.
Painting a gloomy health situation among the gay community in the country, Aborisade worried that further denial and failure to pay attention to the dire situation poses danger of escalating health challenges to the country and her people.
“We all pretend about the existence of this minority group even as more people come to the open to declare their gay status every day. Many of them have spouses at home as well as sex partners across the strata of the society.
“Our team realise that there is misconception about gender and sexuality issues. These issues are escalating and affecting individuals and families especially in the areas of liberty, rights and fulfillment.
“One of the issues is the fact that our society assumes that certain sexual orientation is alien to us,” he said.
He added that the societal discrimination against the people have denied them access to necessary health facilities that could curb the spread of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) among them and other non-gays they often have contact with.
Also speaking at the seminar, Dr. Sola Ishola of the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan, decried the growing culture of silence and denial maintained by the Nigerian society against the realities within the gay community.
He challenged the media to give attention to issues relating to the section and cause the necessary government agencies to do the needful to safe the nation of possible health hazard.
While delivering her address, Dr. Seun Olutayo, coordinator of gender studies programme at the institute, disclosed that her unit is partnering with Projekthope Nigeria in taking scholarly approach to addressing the issue.
She informed that the collaborative effort is billed to produce an academic journal, osumare, which seeks to look at issues of gender and sexuality from different academic perspectives, adding that a call for articles has been sent out for contribution from scholars in relevant fields.
Aborisade, who had earlier challenged members of both the academia and media to join hands with his team to effectively address the misconception against the gay community and prevent the possible devastation, hinted that the project, sponsored by the United States Consul office, Lagos will see his team taking the message to newsrooms across Nigeria.