Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Nigerian "gay marriage" bill NOT DEAD

I had reported earlier that a group of human rights activists has formed to work against the passage of the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) bill (pdf). For those new to this blog, the bill would do more than prohibit same-sex marriage -- it would also deny the most basic of civil rights to gay and lesbian Nigerians. They would be banned from speaking out on their own behalf, as well as banned from organizing meetings or processions of any kind. Violators would be subject to 5 years' imprisonment.

The Anglican Church in Nigeria has been very supportive of this legislation, and I have now heard from two independent sources that the bill was spearheaded by Archbishop Akinola, the Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican), following the emergence of Changing Attitude Nigeria, an organization dedicated to getting the Anglican Communion to accept their presence within the Church (hardly an affair into which the Nigerian government ought to insert itself). The Church of Nigeria, mirroring the sentiment of many Africans, believes that homosexuals do not exist in their midst. (See this by Colin Coward of Changing Attitude UK.)

According to an email I received from Dorothy Aken'Ova, a board member of INCRESE, the International Center for Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights, in Lagos, Nigeria, the bill is most definitely not dead [emphasis mine]:
The bill is at the comittee for human rights for any modifications. We anticipate that the bill may be presented for public hearing in July and then any amendments made and submitted for passing. ...

Since we had the strategic dialogue, we agreed to meet with the Chair of the committee. We are working out an appointment to that effect. He has also called on three other committees to deliberate on the bill with him, so we shall make an effort to see the members and chairs of these committees individually before meeting with them as a group.

We are hopeful that we shall succeeed in achieving a change however little.
We can do more than hope. To conservative Anglicans out there, I ask whether you think that Akinola's endorsement of legislation that would let ministry to gay and lesbian Nigerians turn to persecution is a good idea. It is your voice, and yours alone, that would ever have a chance of getting Archbishop Akinola to change his position. You're running out of time.

1 comment:

Revd Father Paul Gibson said...

In Nigeria and across Africa, the International Inclusive Community of St Sebastians is working to free LGBT from oppresion alongside Changing Attidudes Nigeria. We are working to develop open and vibrant Christian Fellowships in which all people are welcome and fully support the need for Same Sex Blessings as a starting block for fuller civil unions.
Revd Father Paul Gibson