The discursive construction of gay people in news reports of selected Nigerian newspapers
Same-sex relationships have, over time, stirred serious debates worldwide. Studies on same-sex sexualities in the Nigerian context have focused on its representation in Nollywood movies and other arguments centred on ethics, culture and religion, with little attention paid to how queer people are framed by the Nigerian media. This study, therefore, explores agency and processes in the representation of gay people in news reports of selected Nigerian newspapers, in order to unearth how this social group is discursively constructed in the Nigerian context. Drawing on insights from Fairclough’s approach to critical discourse analysis and Halliday’s Systemic Functional Linguistics, this study considers three popular Nigerian newspapers (Vanguard, Nigerian Tribune and The Punch) within three years (2013–2015, being the period of intense debate on the legalisation of the anti-gay bill in Nigeria). Results reveal that gay people are negatively evaluated as actors of negative material processes such as ‘murder’ and other violent actions, and goals of the actions of ‘arrests’ and ‘remands’, ideologically portraying them as criminals and dangerous. The study provides insight into the biased posturing of the Nigerian media on important social/national issues such as same-sex relationships.
Keywords: representation of gay persons, heteronormativity, ideologies, discourses on same-sex sexualities, homophobia in the Nigerian press
- 2.Previous studies
- 3.Theoretical framework
- 3.1Fairclough’s model of CDA (Socio-semiotic approach)
- 3.2Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL)
- 5.Data analysis and discussion
- 5.1Gay people as actors/violent criminals
- 5.2Government/law enforcement agents as actors – gay people as goals/victims
- 5.3Government/law enforcement agents as actors – Act of homosexuality as circumstance
- 5.4Collective nouns as actors of violent acts against gay people
- 5.5Passivisation: Gay people as victims (goals) in agentless material clauses
Published online: 11 February 2022
2020 A police raid, viral videos and the broken lives of Nigerian gay law suspects. Reuters. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-nigeria-lgbt-widerimage/a-police-raid-viral-videos-and-the-broken-lives-of-nigerian-gay-law-suspects-idUSKCN20I105 (February 24 2020).
Asue, Daniel Ude
Atoi, Ewere & Ojedokun, Usman
Burdette, Amy, Ellison, Christopher & Hill, Terrence
Cameron-Ellis, Jean A.
1999 Church and Homosexuality: The Relationship between Individual Religious Beliefs, Attitudes and the Quality of Contact. PhD dissertation, University of Pretoria.
Epprecht, Marc & Egya, Sule
Fadairo, Olusola, Fadairo, Anjolaoluwa & Aminu, Olufunmilayo
Fowler, Roger, Hodge, Bob, Kress, Gunther & Trew, Tony
Gaudio, Rudolf P.
Giwa, Sulaimon, Abiodun, Logie, Carmen, Karki, Karun, K., Makanjuola, Olumide F. & Obiagwu, Chinonye Edmund
Halliday, Michael A. K.
1984 Language as code and language as behaviour: A systemic functional interpretation of the nature and ontogenesis of dialogue. In The Semiotics of Culture and Language. Volume 1: Language as Social Semiotic, Robin Fawcett, Michael A. K. Halliday, Lamb Sydney & Makkai Adam (eds), 3–35. Pinter: London.
Halliday, Michael A. K. & Matthiessen, Christian M. I. M.
Human Rights Watch
2016 Tell me where I can be safe: The impact of Nigeria’s same-sex marriage (Prohibition) Act. https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/report_pdf/nigeria1016_web.pdf (17 January 2019).
Jibo, Mvendaga & Okoosi-Simbine, Antonia
Jørgensen, Marianne W. & Philips, Louise M.
Lyonga, Frida Imbolo
Mapayi, Boladale M., Oginni, Olaleye, Akinsulore, Adesanmi & Aloba, Olutayo O.
McKay, Tara & Angotti, Nicole
2012 Nigeria: Where being openly gay comes at a steep price. https://www.minnpost.com/global-post/2012/08/nigeria-where-being-openly-gay-comes-steep-price/ (November 16 2019).
Obidimma, Emmanuel & Obidimma, Angela
Olson, Laura R., Wendy, Cadge & James, T. Harrison
Onanuga, Paul & Alade, Blessing
Pew Research Centre
2020 The global divide on homosexuality persists. https://www.pewresearch.org/global/wpcontent/uploads/sites/2/2020/06/PG_2020.06.25_Global-Views-Homosexuality_FINAL.pdf (June 25 2020).
Roggemans, Lilith, Spruyt, Bram, van Droogenbroeck, Filip & Keppens, Gil
Sherkat, Darren E., Powell-Williams, Melissa, Maddox, Gregory & Mattias de Vries, Kylan
Turner, Georgina, Mills, Sara, van der Bom, Isabelle, Coffey-Glover, Laura, Paterson, Laura & Jones, Lucy
van Leeuwen, Theo
Weiss, Gilbert & Wodak, Ruth
White, Chrishana Melissa
2013 Human rights and the impact of criminalization: Legalizing homophobia in Jamaica, Nigeria, and Uganda. Law School Student Scholarship 3251. https://scholarship.shu.edu/student_scholarship/325 (November 12 2020).
Whitehead, Andrew L.
Wilcox, Clyde & Robin, Wolpert