Monday, February 26, 2007

Passage Imminent VII

The Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) and the God's Kingdom Society (GKS) have both announced their support of the Akinola-led Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) for its spearheading and strong support of the new legislation. The PFN's and GKS's announcement is not surprising in the least -- the legislation has had broad support from Nigerian religious groups since it was first introduced in January of last year.

Says the Vanguard (Lagos):
In separate statements over the weekend, Pastor Oritsejafor and the GKS president commended the head of the Anglican Church in Nigeria, Archbishop Peter Akinola for his strong stance against homosexuality as could be seen from the statement issued by the Anglican Church of Nigeria last year affirming the commitment of the church to the total rejection of the evil of homosexuality which is a “perversion of human dignity” and urging the National Assembly to expedite action and ratify the Bill prohibiting the legality of homosexuality.
Given the reluctance to pass the legislation by even some Muslim members of the Federal Assembly, Pastor Oritsejafor words on the subject are intriguing [my emphasis]:
Pastor Oritsejafor who was particularly piqued by what he described as "unnecessary politicking" by members of the Nigerian National Assembly on the bill argued that most of the socio-economic problems militating against the nation today are traceable to the erosion of our cherished family values.

According to him, "it does not make any sense for Nigerians to ape everything from the West because the African was created by God uniquely and for a special purpose and there is therefore no basis for us to imitate other cultures."

This brings us back to the most common argument made in defense of the legislation -- that homosexuality is unAfrican. What strikes me in Pastor Oritsejafor's words, though I'm sure he didn't mean it this way, is the implication that Africans were created separately. I fear to tread this politically dangerous ground, but this strikes me as a bridge too far. Thoughts?

I've thought quite a bit about the justifications made by important conservative Anglicans in favor of, in support of, or in acquiescence to the Nigerian anti-gay legislation. But what would its passage look like in practice?

Human Rights Watch has a new report (pdf) on the human rights outlook in Nigeria up to and after the April 2007 elections. They make no mention of the legislation in their report (there are, indeed, far greater problems faced by the Nigerian people, despite what the overheated rhetoric of my blog might suggest). Regarding the Nigerian police, they say:
Nigeria’s police and other security forces are implicated in widespread acts of torture and other ill-treatment, extrajudicial killing, and arbitrary arrest. Police officers routinely torture criminal suspects, often to extract “confessions” from them, while at the same time releasing other criminal suspects from custody in return for bribes. Police personnel routinely use the threat of violence or arrest to extort bribes from Nigerians who come into contact with them, often with the active encouragement of their commanding officers.
These are the same folks that are expected to fairly apply the new law once it's enacted. Given Changing Attitude Nigeria director Davis Mac-Iyalla's arrest and bribe-enabled release in late 2005, I'm sure that now-out gay and lesbian Nigerians have a lot to look forward to, and are filling out their asylum applications as we speak. I hope the State Department's condemnation of the new legislation will carry some weight during their subsequent asylum proceedings.

(And lest we forget, the problems faced by gay and lesbian Nigerians are not unique to Nigeria. Read this for more.)

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