DAR ES SALAAM, February 13, 2007 –
A group of gay Christians in Nigeria has written an open letter to the
Archbishops of the world-wide Anglican Communion on the eve of the debate in
the Nigerian Parliament of a draconian Bill to ban same-sex relationships.
Davis Mac-Iyalla, the director of
Changing Attitude Nigeria (CAN) and has received telephone calls and emails
threatening his life, is in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to lobby the Archbishops
who are meeting this week in the city this week.
Among them is Archbishop Peter
Akinola, the Primate of Nigeria who is a strong supporter of the Nigerian
Bill and the “leader” of a faction that opposes homosexuality among the
Anglican clergy and has slammed the appointment of openly gay Bishop Gene
Robinson, bishop of New Hamphire in the USA.
In his letter, Mr. Mac-Iyalla
appeals to the Primates to add their “voices to others who have been calling
on the Nigerian Government to stop progress on this bill and withdraw it
He points out that any bishop or
priest who befriends, baptises, confirms or welcomes a gay man or woman into
their church will also be guilty of a criminal offence, if the Bill passes.
The full text of the letter to
Archbishops from CAN:
“The bill to ban same
sex-relationships has been dormant for some time in the Nigerian House of
Representatives. Due to recent pressure from Nigerian LGBT Rights
Organizations and other international defenders of LGTBT Human Rights, the
bill is going to be debated again tomorrow, 14 February, by the Nigerian law
makers. This news arrived as Davis Mac-Iyalla, Director of Changing Attitude
Nigeria, arrived in Dar Es Salaam to try and meet Archbishop Peter Akinola
and other Primates to show the commitment of LGBT Nigerian Anglicans to
“If this bill is not stopped now it
will make most lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people illegal in
their own country. With their families and friends and anyone they associate
with, they will be immediately criminalized. Those arrested under the
provision of the law will face a jail sentence of between 5 and 14 years.
Some will be forced into exile by this repressive legislation. Any bishop or
priest who befriends, baptises, confirms or welcomes an LGBT person into
their church will also be guilty of a criminal offence.
“The Primate of the Church of
Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Archbishop Peter Akinola is at the moment in
Tanzania meeting with the other Primates. He is a strong supporter of this
bill which threatens the lives and security of tens of thousands of LGBT
people in Nigeria.
“We are appealing to the Primates
in the name of God to add your voices to others who have been calling on the
Nigerian Government to stop progress on this bill and withdraw it
immediately. The bill will make it impossible for the Anglican Communion to
engage in the listening process in Nigeria to which you, the Primates, have
committed yourselves in Lambeth resolution 1.10 and the Windsor report. It
discriminates against LGBT people. It criminalizes a group which the church
claims to love and should in Christian charity be determined to protect from
abuse and persecution.
“Although the bill has not yet been
passed into law, yet it has been implemented by many groups and individuals
in Nigerian society. Davis Mac-Iyalla the director of CAN has himself
received telephone calls and emails threatening to end his life and bathe
him with acid. This is but just one example of the many threats LGBT people
are facing in Nigeria as a result of the proposed bill, threats reported by
members of CAN in their diocesan groups.”
■ For background on the Dar es Salaam "summit" of
Anglican Primates, see
Archbishop Battles to Ward off Final Anglican Split on
Homosexuality by Stephen Bates in the Guardian (UK). Also,
Ruth Gledhill in
The Times (UK)
Posted: 13 February 2007 at
16:00 (UK time)