Eliminate Nigerian Ban on Lesbian Soccer Players

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Target: Dilichukwu Onyedinma, chair of the Nigeria Women Football League (NWFL)

Goal: Eliminate the ban on lesbian players in the NWFL.

Many factors contribute to a soccer player’s competence and skill as an athlete—agility, dexterity, and sportsmanship to name a few. Other qualities are irrelevant and have no impact whatsoever on a person’s athletic ability. Among the latter would be a player’s sexual preference. But in Nigeria, it is not so irrelevant. In fact, simply being gay can disqualify a player from the league.

Dilichukwu Onyedinma, the chair of the Nigeria Women Football League, (NWFL) recently announced that any player associated with lesbianism would be disqualified from playing in the league. Valuable, skilled players will be lost simply because they are gay. Many are surprised that one could be so ignorant as to believe that sexuality has any impact on athletic performance. Furthermore, athletic performance itself stands as powerful evidence against this crude, poorly researched theory, which is founded on pure ignorance. Superficial research reveals obvious evidence which blatantly disproves any assertion that gay players negatively impact the team’s performance.

Seimone Augustus is an Olympic Gold Medalist and a renowned WNBA basketball champion. She’s also a lesbian and plans to marry her current girlfriend in May. Megan Rapinoe, also the recipient of an Olympic Gold Medal, is a professional U.S. soccer player who embraces her homosexuality but feels that “it’s less about people having to know about your sexuality than standing up for what’s right and fighting for equality”. Wade Davis is a former professional football player who recently came out and has become an influential gay rights activist. Clearly, these successful professional athletes were not impeded by their homosexuality.

If the chair of the NWFL is naive enough to believe that, despite obvious evidence, homosexuality adversely affects team performance, then perhaps she is not qualified for the position. It is relevant to note that homosexuality is currently illegal in Nigeria. It appears that Onyedinma is influenced by the national stigma surrounding gay people in Nigeria, and perhaps her own biased opinion. This is unprofessional, unethical, and results in unfair discrimination against qualified soccer players.

Sign this petition to urge Onyedinma to lift the senseless ban on lesbianism and stop discriminating against lesbian players in the NWFL.

PETITION LETTER

Dear Ms. Dilichukwu Onyedinma,

It has come to my attention that you recently made a statement declaring a nationwide ban on homosexuality in the National Women Football League. You said that lesbian players would immediately be disqualified from the league merely on the grounds of their sexual preference.

If you believe that a player’s sexual preference has the potential to negatively impact athletic performance, then you are horribly mistaken. Not only in the United States, but throughout Europe and Latin America as well, gay professional athletes have excelled, establishing successful careers and performing phenomenally in Olympic level competitions. These athletes are proof that sexuality is irrelevant to athletic success. Being gay or straight does not make someone a good or a bad athlete. Gross misconceptions like these lead to unjust discrimination against highly skilled players. As an influential figure in Nigerian women’s soccer, it is critical that you understand the facts.

I am aware that homosexuality is illegal in Nigeria. However, the practice of banning homosexual players from the league is discriminatory and detrimental to the team’s performance.  Not only is the ban on lesbianism unethical, unjust, and hurtful to lesbian athletes, but it also robs the league of valuable, highly competitive players. I have no doubt that you are willing to support the athletes in whatever way possible, and you accept your responsibility to help them achieve victory. Therefore, it is critical that you reconsider the effects of this senseless discrimination on the team’s success.

I urge you to remove the ban on lesbianism in the NWFL. Stop this unjust discrimination now and allow valuable lesbian athletes to fulfill their potential. You will not regret it.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Emkaer via Wikimedia Commons

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52 Signatures

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