Thursday, March 30, 2006

Hey! It's almost too late

Conservative American Anglicans are about lose all "civil rights" credibility.

The storm clouds have been looming on the horizon for some time, but today Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo urged the Nigerian Federal Assembly to expedite the passage of a two-month old bill (pdf) that would ban not only gay marriage (homosexual activity, i.e., "sodomy", is already illegal) but also speech in advocacy of homosexuality, or organizations that might petition their government (or their church) on matters relating to homosexuals.

Where do American Anglicans fit in this? -- because their powerful colleague in the Anglican Church of Nigeria, Archbishop Peter Akinola, has endorsed the legislation, and they have remained silent or, worse, defended the Archbishop.

It's one thing for American Anglicans to find common cause with Archbishop Akinola over the issue of human sexuality and whether the Church should bless same-sex unions or elevate non-celibate gay clergy. And who are we in the United States -- a people who are themselves in the midst of a debate over whether same-sex marriages or civil unions should receive recognition by the states -- to criticize Nigerians for passing a law that would express the majority Nigerian position on the issue?

But it's quite another thing for American Anglicans to support legislation that would ban speech, assembly and press, in order to silent opposition. I mean, why don't they just go ahead and strip they're citizenship while they're at it.

Here is the Daily Trust (Nigeria), today:

President Olusegun Obasanjo has written the National Assembly urging the parliament to ban same sex marriage or homosexuality in the country.

The President's letter was read on the floor of the House of Representatives by the Deputy Speaker of the House, Hon Austin Opara, who presided over yesterday's plenary session.

The letter introduced to the House an executive Bill seeking to ban same sex relationship in the country. It was entitled "Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, 2006".

Opara said while announcing the receipt of the letter to the members at the commencement of yesterday's proceedings that the President urges the National Assembly to give expeditious consideration and passage to the bill. "This is because the problem has become topical and embarrassing in recent times".

The leader of the House, Hon Abdul Ningi, said the problem of homosexuality has become very disturbing in view of the increasing number of gays and lesbians in the country.

Ningi called on the House to commence debate immediately on the matter considering its necessity, but the presiding officer, Austin Opara, asked that the debate be suspended because the Bill needed to be gazetted and sent through legislative processes before it is debated upon.

The Federal Executive Council (FEC), recently condemned the menace. This might have prompted the executive arm of the government to come up with the Bill to outlaw the social problem. [emphasis mine]

I need not remind anyone that once the legislation passes, clerics like Dr. Lateef Adegbite, secretary-general of Nigerian Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), will have license to "[monitor] the lifestyles of our people and their relationships to ensure that such practices are exposed in Nigeria and that offenders get their due punishment."

I wonder what punishment he has in mind.

Indeed, as Human Rights Watch put it:
Laws criminalizing homosexuality can also act as a licence to torture and ill treatment. By institutionalizing discrimination, they can act as an official incitement to violence against lesbians and gay men in the community as a whole, whether in custody, in prison, on the street or in the home. By stripping a sector of the population of their full rights, they also deprive lesbian and gay victims of human rights violations of access to redress while the abusers are allowed to continue abusing others with impunity.
Are there any conservative Anglicans out there who plan to step up and do the right thing?

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