Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Passage Imminent 10

What a letter! Wiser heads than those on the Anglican Right express exactly the right sentiment, addressed to the President and Deputy President of the Nigerian Senate (a southern Christian and a northern Muslim -- Mantu is the current avatar of Nigerian Muslim tolerance):
Most importantly, this bill would strike at the equality, dignity and respect due all people in Nigeria. As faith leaders we are committed to building bridges of understanding across divides of difference. We believe all people of faith are called to work together for a world of justice, peace and equality. We urge you to resist the polarizing rhetoric of some narrow, religious ideologues and instead affirm the fundamental values of freedom reflected in the Nigerian Constitution.

We are asking that you oppose this bill and protect the equality of all Nigerians. Your assistance is necessary in order to overcome the discrimination that takes place in the world today. We are depending on you to do all you can to prevent this bill from being passed and to take a stand for the basic human rights of all people.
Read the whole thing (there are over 250 signatories -- none of them conservative -- but I am really, really looking forward to standing corrected on that point). A press release from Human Rights Watch accompanies the letter. Will this letter do any good? Here's hoping.

Andrew Sullivan linked here earlier, inspiring an old-school Episcopalian to respond on behalf of Nigerian gays and lesbians. Quote:
In the US, many parishes within ECUSA split long ago over the issue of the role of women. We have been here before. In my view, the Episcopal Church in the United States of America is better for having let those voices of repression depart. I say, "Good riddance." While I would never refuse to take the Eucharist with a declared homophobe or misogynist and I continue to pray that we all become more tolerant of one another, the day of reckoning is upon us, and it is better that, as organized churches, we part company and, in the words of St Paul, work out our own salvations.
I don't take a position on "schism," except that I would rather it occur sooner rather than later, so that the cooler-headed conservatives in the Anglican Communion (yes! they exist!) can speak out without worrying about maintaining solidarity with Archbishop Akinola.

No news today ... so far

A quick scan of the Nigeria press today reveals nothing so far. But the Nigerian Senate isn't expected to vote until tomorrow. Stay tuned.

If you haven't already called or written the relevant folks, see here for relevant contact info. And do it now!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Passage Imminent 9

[updated below, three times]

The roman numerals were getting ridiculous (let alone the increasing size of the actual numbers).

At the risk of generating a bit of blog-circularity, Jim Naughton has important news from Nigeria. The Nigerian Senate is expected to vote on the legislation this Thursday (less than 48 hours from now). The Nigerian House is ready to vote as well.

If you belong to a parish or other organization that has supported Archbishop Akinola's spiritual leadership in the Anglican Communion, but you are disturbed (as we all should be) by his endorsement of legislation that would put gay and lesbian Nigerians in jail for organizing and that would irrevocably damage the Church of Nigeria's ministry to gay and lesbian persons not to mention their physical and mental well-being, now is the time to act.

If your parish is a member of CANA, or is considering departure to CANA, write or call:

The Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns
703.273.1300 x140
Truro Church
10520 Main Street
Fairfax, Virginia 22030

If you belong to a Network parish or diocese, write or call:

The Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan
Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh
900 Oliver Building
535 Smithfield Street
Pittsburgh, PA, 15222-2467

If you are not a member of a Network or CANA (or incipient CANA) parish, please do not call or email.

Also, everyone should contact the Archbishop of Canterbury. His silence in the matter has been astonishing. His office can be reached here:

The Most Reverend Rowan Williams
The Press Office
Lambeth Palace
London SE1 7JU
Tel: 020 7898 1200
Fax: 020 7261 1765

BE POLITE!! And remember, the issue here is not whether homosexual acts should be made legal (they're already illegal in Nigeria), nor whether gay marriage should be made legal (it already is not recognized by the government), but that the basic civil rights of a minority (speech, assembly, press, free exercise of religion) must not be abridged in the name of religion!

This is not a question of "context," either. The Nigerian Constitution guarantees all these rights for its citizens, regardless of religious beliefs. And for good reason: in a nation split as evenly as Nigeria is between Christians and Muslims, tolerance is a virtue.

It is also not a question of Muslim encroachment. Muslim legislators have called for caution in implementing this legislation -- if a Muslim can speak out with impunity, why can't an Anglican?

This is your last chance to meaningfully break your silence.

UPDATE Feb 27, 12:12. From Integrity via Jim Naughton, here's even more you can do, especially if you don't belong to a Network or CANA parish:
Davis Mac-Iyalla of Changing Attitude Nigeria is asking for our help. Here are two concrete things you can do ...

1) Send an e-mail to Archbishop Peter Akinola ( ) asking him to use his considerable influence with the Senate to defeat the bill. Remind him that paragraph 146 of the Windsor Report states that, ''any demonising of homosexual persons, or their ill treatment, is totally against Christian charity and basic principles of pastoral care."

2) Call the Nigerian Embassy (202-986-8400) in Washington, DC, to express your concerns about the bill. Remind embassy staff that Nigeria is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which guarantees freedom from unfair discrimination and the right to privacy. Parts of the act are also inconsistent with the principle of non-discrimination found in the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and the Nigerian Constitution.

NOTE regarding the Nigerian Embassy -- it's better to fax a note and address it to the General Assembly. Their fax number is (202) 362-5684 (h/t one of Jim Naughton's commenters, A. MacArthur).
These can be tough phone calls to make / emails to write, but they're worth it. Don't delay.

UPDATE II Feb 27, 13:46. Sammy Morse recommends alternative contact info for those outside the US:
Nigerian High Commission in London:
9 Northumberland Avenue
Tel: (+44) 020 7839 1244

Nigerian Embassy in Dublin:
56 Leeson Park
Dublin 6
Tel: (+353) 1 660 4051

E-mail form on their website -
Thanks for this.

UPDATE III March 2, 09:51. Hat tip to Susan Rusell for providing a letter template for writing to Archbishop Akinola. It's a good, polite letter. I recommend it:

Dear Archbishop Akinola,

It is urgent that you use your influence with the Senate of Nigeria to oppose the Same-sex Marriage Prohibition Act. Please remind the Senators that:

1) Paragraph 146 of the Windsor Report of the World Wide Anglican Communion states that "any demonizing of homosexual persons, or their ill treatment, is totally against Christian charity and basic principles of pastoral care"; and

2) Nigeria is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil andPolitical Rights, and the African Charter on Human and People's Rights, which guarantee freedom from unfair discrimination, and the right to privacy; and

3) Those rights are also affirmed in the Constitution of Nigeria.

Embellish the letter how you will, but be polite!!! Akinola's email address is

Please also CC: Archbishop Akinola's Communications Director, Canon Akintude Popoola, at Canon Tunde has played an active role in defending Akinola's endorsement of the legislation.

Passage Imminent VIII

The Catholic Bishop Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) just announced their public support of Peter Akinola in a press conference in Abuja, condemning any group that might wish to make same-sex marriage lawful in Nigeria. As I've made clear, I don't wish to enter the debate on whether Nigeria should recognize same-sex marriage as long as we in the US are still having a democratic debate on the subject -- that is, if Nigerians decide that they don't wish to recognize same-sex marriage, there's not much I can do about it.

What's much more horrifying to me than the possibility that Nigeria should fail to enact pro-gay-marriage legislation (ha!) is that the current legislation radically abridges the right of gay and lesbian Nigerians to organize politically on their own behalf. But even worse than that has been the deafening silence of conservative American Anglicans (and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams) who are all too happy to acquiesce and rationalize Akionla's endorsement to maintain rhetorical advantage in the midst of the political fight of their lives.

Meanwhile, there's an interesting and heartening editorial in Nigeria's Vanguard (February 27) by Rotimi Fasan, that speaks to both the HIV/AIDS dimension of the legislation's purported rationale, as well as its "unAfrican" dimension [my emphasis]:
There can be no harm, I believe, in Nigerians taking a closer look at the matter. For whether we like it or not, situations around us will not permit us to remain impervious to the questions raised by the issues any longer. For whatever it was worth, let’s not forget there was a prominent, religious gay lobby, from Nigeria, at the Dar conference. As I pointed out above, that homosexuality is a closet issue is no reason to believe that the practice is totally alien in these parts. Like in South Africa where HIV positive men sleep with under-aged girls in the mistaken belief that sex with virgins cures HIV/AIDS, homosexual acts are, in certain cases, believed in our part of the world to confer mystical powers on its practitioners. In some cases, it is seen as the harbinger of great wealth.

It is a known fact that one of the reasons adduced for one of the bloodiest coups in Nigeria’s history was the alleged overwhelming presence of homosexuals in the government that was to be displaced. The April 22, 1990 coup, announced/led by Gideon Orka, was partly staged to oust the ‘homosexual’ regime of General Ibrahim Babangida. Likewise, homosexuals supposedly populate the Yan Dauda cult. Thus, from whatever angle it is viewed, there are practising homosexuals among us. The essence of bringing discussion of homosexuality to the public domain is neither an attempt to offend the prudish sensibility of anybody nor engage in the prurient game of a voyeur. Rather it is to afford Nigerians an opportunity for a rational as opposed to a prejudiced response to the issue.

As I write this, a bill is being sponsored at the National Assembly to ban same sex relations. It was, last week, referred to the judicial committee of the Senate where some senators, led by Ibrahim Mantu, are totally opposed to any discussion of the matter. For them, discussing same sex relations, amounts to giving prominence to a culturally alien subject. But even as the debate goes on majority of Nigerians are, arguably, unaware of it. People like Mantu are, probably, afraid of Nigeria going the way of South Africa that has legislated in favour of same sex relations. But the question for me, however, is whether there is the slightest possibility of opening up avenues for a better understanding of homosexuality.
I can't speak to the size of the Nigerian constituency that holds Fasan's views, but it's good to hear someone in Nigeria publicly call for caution and rational discourse.

South Africa's Mail & Guardian covers the recent Tanzania conference from the perspective of those whom the legislation would affect the most, and from the perspective of the nominal "head" of the Anglican Communion:
The archbishop [Williams], who admits he may be unable to prevent schism in the 450-year-old church, said the public perception was that "we are a Church obsessed with sex".

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.)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Passage Imminent VI

Muslim legislators are under pressure to back the Nigerian "gay marriage" legislation.

Why the Muslims? Perhaps, out of self-interest, they're not as comfortable giving up the concept of minority rights as their Christian coreligionists. Or perhaps they have a higher sense of the importance of pure democratic principles. Either way, where are the Anglican detractors?

We're waiting.

And ...

... making explicit what any biologist worth their salt knows, BBSNews explains (in perhaps too stark terms) that homosexual behavior in the animal kingdom is not as unusual as Archbishop Akinola makes it out to be.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Passage Imminent V

[Updated below]

Coverage from the BBC that I had missed earlier (Feb 14), following on an earlier post [my emphasis]:
Speaking at the session, Deputy Speaker Austin Opara said he did not want Nigerians to forget their "religious and cultural backgrounds".

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the umbrella body for Nigerian Christians, called for speedy passage of the law, describing same sex unions as "barbaric and shameful".

The National Muslim Centre also condemned gay relations as "immoral, and runs contrary to our cultural and religious values".

The deputy chairman of the house committee on human rights Abdul Oroh [a man with a Muslim name from a predominantly Muslim state - MT] says it was hypocritical of proponents of the bill to use morality and religion as basis for their arguments.

"We should not be hypocritical here. I think we should deal with this subject dispassionately. While we are trying to protect morals and values, we must also remember to protect people's rights even if they are a minority," Mr Oreh said at the public hearing.

Wow, I don't think I possibly could have said it better than Oreh. Notice that CAN (the organization presided over by Archbishop Akinola of the Church of Nigeria) pushes hard for the bill, while a putative Muslim argues for minority rights!

With Oreh's words, we've now documented the thoughts of two Muslim legislators (MP Abdul Oreh, and Senator Ibrahim Nasir Mantu) who are reticent to pass the legislation. Where's the Anglican legislator?

Also: some coverage from The Jurist (Feb 23).

... and links to the UN Press Release I had mentioned earlier, with an accompanying article (h/t Simon Sarmiento).

UPDATE Feb 24 20:15. It occurs to me that Mr. Oreh's and Senator Mantu's words in the Nigerian Legislature would be made illegal by the new legislation as they could be liberally construed as providing "indirect" "sustenance" to "same-sex amorous relationship[s]" under Section 7(3). Hmmm.

The irony!

The Washington chapter of the Anglican American Council (from whom we've heard before, rather embarrasingly), has written a letter to the Diocese of Washington requesting that Jim Naughton at the Daily Episcopalian tone down his rhetoric (you tell me, after reading a few of his posts, whether you think his rhetoric is "divisive").

Aside from a series of rather hilarious logical flaws, the letter's most salient characteristic is that it has been published online, as far as I can tell, only by David Virtue, one of the least civil voices from the Anglican right, and the man from whom I first learned the term "homofecalerotic."

Does the AAC in Atlanta support this letter? If so, why didn't they publish it on their own website? If not, are they happy with their branch in Washington publishing on Virtue's site?

Please, AAC-Washington, stop embarrassing yourselves.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Passage Imminent IV

The UN weighs in today: (via Monsters & Critics)

Four UN special rapporteurs on racism, violence against women, xenophobia and related intolerance said in a statement that the draft bill is 'an absolutely unjustified intrusion of individuals' right to privacy' and goes against the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

'We are apprehensive that, if adopted, the proposed law will make persons engaging in, or perceived engaging in, same-sex relationships in Nigeria more susceptible to arbitrary arrests, detention, torture and ill-treatment, and expose them even more to violence and attacks on their dignity,' the statement said.

And from Reuters:
The independent experts, most of whom report to the Human Rights Council, the U.N. watchdog on fundamental freedoms, said the legislation amounted to an 'absolutely unjustified intrusion' into an individual's right to privacy.

'(It would) contravene ... the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that 'all human beings are born equal in dignity and rights',' they said in a statement.

... 'The bill contains provisions that infringe freedoms of assembly and association and imply serious consequences for the excerise of the freedom of expression and opinion,' the envoys' statement said.
Sadly, such rights are viewed as unimportant in the face of the threat of Nigerian homosexuality (This Day, Lagos, February 20, 2007):
The only right the Nigerian homosexuals and lesbians have is their right to be taken to the hospitals (or Babalawos or Dibias for those of them who are professed atheists) for treatment. Those who are sick should not be going about advertising their sickness.
If you want to feel sick, read the rest of the Sonnie Ekwowusi's disheartening op-ed, an op-ed mercifully ignorant of the Nigerian Constitution. Nigerian democracy is in bad shape.

I had always hoped that conservative American Anglicans, especially highly placed ones like Bishop Minns, could have gently nudged the Church of Nigeria in the right direction. Instead, these Americans have shown themselves to be either complicit in the CofN's plans by their acquiescence or support, or utterly impotent in their objections.

Passage Imminent III

[UPDATE -- this legislation is up for a vote in the Nigerian Senate tomorrow, March 1. For more on what you can do to speak out against it -- it's almost too late -- see here.]

For far too long, the Anglican church in Nigeria has used the "shari'ya" canard to justify their advocacy of the anti-gay bill currently before the Nigerian Senate.

On December 19 of last year, in an open letter to the Virginia parishes leaving the Episcopal Church for Nigerian oversight, Archbishop Peter Akinola was given the opportunity to rationalize his unequivocal endorsement of the legislation:
We recognize that there are genuine concerns about individual human rights that must be addressed both in the framing of the law and its implementation. I am glad to inform you that while the Honorable Speaker of the House, a Moslem, wanted the immediate and outright passage of the bill, the Deputy Speaker, an Anglican, persuaded his colleagues to allow full public debate on it.
The subtext here -- as emphasized innumerable times by conservative Anglicans supportive of Akinola's actions -- is that the efforts of the Nigerian Church in civil affairs are subject to extreme pressures from Nigerian Muslims, many of whom apparently believe that their Anglican brethren are light in the loafers.

The "pressure from Islam" thread has been repeated elsewhere. Here's Bishop Robert Duncan (Pittsburgh), the Moderator of the Anglican Communion Network, on March 15, 2006:
... it should be noted that while the proposed law sounds harsh to American ears, the penalty for homosexual activities in those parts of Africa under Islamic Sharia law (such as the Sudan and portions of Northern Nigeria for that matter) is death. It is precisely the imposition of these much harsher Sharia laws that Archbishop Akinola and other Anglican leaders in Africa have resisted so strongly for many years with little publicity or support from the West.
Here's (now) Bishop Martyn Minns, Rector of Truro Parish, Virginia, on March 4, 2006:
The situation in Nigeria is even more complex. There is a precarious balancing act between those regions that are under Muslim influence – where Sharia law calls for the stoning of homosexuals – and those that have a majority Christian population. The situation is volatile as demonstrated by the repercussions from the Danish cartoon saga that have already led to hundreds of Christian and Muslim deaths. Keeping the lid on this situation is a formidable task. In recent months homosexual activism sponsored in part by organizations from the UK and South Africa has threatened to add further instability. In response the President of Nigeria has proposed legislation that would restrict such activities.
Minns is now a bishop under Archbishop Akinola's oversight.

We are led to believe that a primary impetus for Akinola's unequivocal endorsement of the legislation is the threat of Islamic extremism.

Until we read this, from This Day (Lagos, Nigeria), February 22, 2007 [my emphasis]:

The Deputy Senate President, Senator Ibrahim Nasir Mantu (Plateau State) [a Muslim name] who spoke after the Senate Leader said that he would have thought that the government would devote more time to "do things more important to the lives of our country than for it to propose this Bill."

"What the government is now doing is creating awareness to this thing and for us to create this kind of awareness, people may now want to start exploring it. Mr. President we have more serious things to do than to be working on this bill, I therefore urge that members should help me to kill this bill." Senate Chief Whip, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma supported Mantu and argued that, "when you pass a law, it is meant to deal with a problem. My view is that the marriage act that we operate in Nigeria defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. As the deputy Senate President [Mantu] said, I think we should set this aside so that we can concentrate on the more important things we have to do."

What!??! A northern Nigerian Muslim doesn't think this legislation is important enough to warrant the attention it's getting? Hmm, that doesn't fit with Akinola's, Minns', and Duncan's argument. I'll have to give this logical puzzle some thought.

But notice what I think is the key phrase from Senator Udoma: "My view is that the marriage act that we operate in Nigeria defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman." That is, there is already a marriage law on the books that unequivocally defines marriage as between a man and a woman. This was new to me, and it makes it quite clear that even the nominally important aspect of the new legislation (a ban on gay marriage) is legally unnecessary. Homosexuality is already illegal in Nigeria; marriage is already defined as between a man and a woman.

All the new legislation does is ban activism and in a nakedly political fashion. Those who have endorsed this bill, and the allies of Akinola who have failed to actively criticize his endorsement of this legislation, have a lot to answer for.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Passage Imminent II

Continues previous post.

Different country, different province, different Primate, same logical gap. From The New Vision (Uganda):
Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi refused Holy Communion while at the Anglican Communion Primates Summit in Tanzania over the issue of homosexuality.

He also reiterated his stance that the Church of Uganda cannot accept homosexuality because it contravenes the Bible and African culture.
Here, what I am particularly worried by is the idea that homosexuality is in contravention to African culture. There are a great many things that are African, and a great many things that aren't. But if there are, in fact, homosexual persons living in Africa who are African, can one really say that homosexuality is alien to the continent? Perhaps more importantly, can one really rule out the presence of homosexual behavior in Africa in the pre-colonial/imperial era?

The "unAfrican" argument is made ad nauseum in Nigeria in support of their anti-gay-civil-rights legislation. But if there are Nigerians (who last I checked are African) who disagree, and believe that homosexuality is not alien to African culture, shouldn't their voices be heard, even if they are in the minority?

The problem with the proposed legislation is not that it draws a line in the sand against gay marriage (hey! we're having that debate here in the US) but that it forces silence with prison sentences on those who quietly and peacefully disagree.

UPDATE February 23, 4:02 AM. Orombi's actions at the Primate's meeting in Tanzania run the risk of setting a counterproductive and bad example for how those who hold homosexuality to be sinful should behave in the face of disagreement. His refusal to take Communion -- while understandable in the context of a protest on his part -- signals to his flock that bread is not to be broken with one's spiritual enemies.

I am reminded of Matthew 9:
While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?" On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
Does Jesus approve of the behavior of these tax collectors and "sinners"? No. But does he refuse to eat with them, even though many might not be in repentance? Also no.

Orombi is setting himself up in the position of the Pharisees, providing those in the Province of Uganda who are antagonistic to homosexuality a rationale to refuse far more basic human kindnesses than the shared sacrament of Communion to their gay and lesbian Ugandan brothers and sisters.

Passage Imminent I

I haven't posted on the Nigerian legislation much lately due to pressing professional matters. I still won't be able to blog like I had been early on, but I'll introduce a series of posts covering news of the Nigerian Anti-Gay bill that's facing imminent passage by Nigeria's populist legislature prior to the upcoming Presidential elections:

This is the first of many posts. These are aimed at the conservative Anglicans in the US who are not aware (or avoid being aware) of what their allies in the Church of Nigeria (Anglican) have advocated. I am not trying to convince anyone here that gay marriage is a good idea, or that Nigeria should make it part of their civil code. Rather, I wish to make as many people as possible aware of this legislation's gross violations of the most basic of civil rights (in ways that have nothing to do with whether Nigeria should recognize civil relationships between gay people), and also that the legislation carries the strong strong endorsement of Archbishop Peter J. Akinola, the head of the Church of Nigeria.

I find all of the claims and reports made in the links to be entirely credible (some news sources stretch the truth -- I have not included them).

First, check on the IGLHRC's documentation of the practical impacts of the legislation on the lives of gay and lesbian Nigerians, Voices from Nigeria (pdf), November, 2006. Quote (from Davis MacIyalla):
In October 2005, after my organization’s first publication criticizing an archbishop of the church for his stance on homosexuality, eight of our members were apprehended by police while we were on our way back from a meeting. We were locked in a police station without food and water for three days. Eventually we were released. I am sure that we were apprehended because of my organization’s publication.
Read the whole thing.

Second, this article from Znet, on the "World's Worst Anti-Gay Law," February 22. Quote:
Even mere socializing by two or more gay people, like having dinner together, is likely to be interpreted as illegal.

Gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals would be targeted not only for specific acts but also for simply existing under this proposed law, and even heterosexual people who "promote" the lifestyle of homosexuals, for example by selling them a house, would be criminalized.
Third, from the Gay City News, on "The Nightmare of Being Gay in Nigeria," February 19. Quote:
Public hearings on the bill were held last week by a committee of Nigeria’s National Assembly and it could be voted into law as early as next month.

With elections for the Presidency, Senate and House of Representatives in April, gay rights activists fear that politicians will put populism above human rights.

At the House committee hearing it emerged that over 100 petitions had been received objecting to the proposed new law, which would be one of the most draconian ever considered anywhere in the world.
More to come.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Same-sex relationships make you "retarded"

... this according to Nigeria's special adviser to the president, Professor Friday Okonofua, at Friday's public hearings on the "same-sex marriage" (read "patent civil rights violations") bill before Nigeria's Federal Assembly, and now under active debate.

Same-sex relationships also apparently lead to cancer, depression, and a high rate of suicide (well, I can accept the latter two, especially in Nigeria).

The level of misunderstanding of homosexuality is so extensive in Nigeria that most lack even the basic tools to debate the subject intelligently. It's quite one thing to have firm religious convictions against homosexual practice (I have no problem with their beliefs), but it's quite another to play fast and loose with the facts when the speech, assembly, press, free expression of religion rights of "4%" of Nigeria's population are on the line. (For all you islamophobes out there who like to point to Shar'iya when justifying Akinola's support of this bill -- notice NO MENTION OF ISLAM in The Tide's coverage.)

This bill looks like it will pass before April's presidential elections. I don't think conservative Anglican supporters of Archbishop Akinola -- an ardent advocate for the bill's passage -- have any idea what they've gotten themselves into. Worse, the Anglican leadership's refusal to actively condemn Akinola's support for this legislation is a fantastic shame. May it follow them to their graves.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

A lullaby from the Heritage Foundation

The IPCC Summary for Policymakers is out, and it's some pretty serious stuff. Serious enough to give many a conservative think-tank the heeby-jeebies, and enough to lead them to release this balm to their adoring hand-wringers:
Just a Summary

It should be emphasized that only a short "Summary for Policymakers" has been released, not the actual report which contains the underlying scientific assessment. The final version of the full report is scheduled to come out later this year. IPCC summaries are written at the direction of political appointees representing member nations. The limitations and potential biases of such summaries give reason to withhold judgment until the scientists actually weigh in--both the IPCC scientists and especially the independent scientists who will comment on the final report. That the summary is being so aggressively marketed ahead of the science is itself reason for caution.
Read the whole thing. You'll notice a glaring omission -- no mention of the SFP's primary conclusion that there is a greater than 90% chance that current global warming is anthropogenic.

But don't think about that, Heritage's Ben Lieberman seems to say. Just focus on the independent scientists who will review the final report once it comes out to provide us all with good, bromidic arguments to avoid having to face up to reality.

Lieberman goes on to provide us with copy that could be written any and every day:
Science should play a big role in global warming policy, and the full IPCC Report should be a part of that. But economics must also play a role, lest the U.S. embark on a course that does more harm than good.

So can we stop the denial now and get on with the hard work of deciding what to do? Where's our Stern Review? Shouldn't we in the US be commissioning dozens of them, each by different groups?