Protect Davis, Gay English Church Group Pleads to Nigerian Archbishop




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By Colin Coward

■  The Revd. Colin Coward is the director of Changing Attitude England.  He lives in Wiltshire.

 Davis Mac-Iyalla, Director of Changing Attitude Nigeria, has been the subject of further intimidation last week.  He was visited, when absent from his place of work, by two men who were identified as Nigerians.

They wanted to speak with Davis and withdrew when told he wasn’t there.  The same morning he was telephoned on his private mobile number by a Nigerian who said: ‘So you are back from your trip to Tanzania’ and then terminated the call.

To protect himself, Mr Mac-Iyalla has withdrawn to a safe location.

He believes that members of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) are increasing their intimidation of him following his presence at the Primates’ meeting in Dar es Salaam and coinciding with progress in Nigeria on the proposed anti-gay legislation.

The threats of violence and intimidation against Mr Mac-Iyalla can only come from members of the Church of Nigeria and with the approval and encouragement of the Church.

Changing Attitude believes Mr Mac-Iyalla’s presence in Tanzania has very seriously angered and disturbed the Nigerian hierarchy.  He has shown publicly that the statements issued about him by the Church are totally untrue.

It is the deliberate action of the Church of Nigeria, organised we believe from the centre, that is leading to these further acts of intimidation against Mr Mac-Iyalla.

The threats are having a devastating effect on the 2,000 members of Changing Attitude Nigeria in their 8 diocesan groups.  They are very scared for Davis Mac-Iyalla’s safety and feel worried and intimidated themselves.  The threats are having an effect which is no doubt intended by the Church to silence and ultimately eradicate their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members.

In his meeting with Mr Mac-Iyalla at the White Sands Hotel in Dar es Salaam, Archbishop Peter Akinola confirmed that Davis is a member of the Church of Nigeria whom he had met on several occasions when Davis was serving the Bishop of Otukpo.

Archbishop Akinola did not at any moment suggest that Davis was a criminal who is being sought by the church and police in Nigeria on charges of theft.  The meeting was witnessed by Bishop Martyn Minns and Canons David Anderson and Chris Sugden.

Changing Attitude England and Nigeria challenge the Primate of All Nigeria, the Most Revd Peter Akinola, and the CANA bishop in the USA, the Rt. Revd. Martyn Minns, to issue a statement denouncing those church members who are threatening violence.

We ask both the Archbishop and Bishop to unreservedly demand protection for Mr Mac-Iyalla and confirm the sanctity of all human life, whatever a person’s sexual orientation, in conformity with the Lambeth Conference 1998 Resolution 1.10 and paragraph 146 of the Windsor report which states that ‘any demonising of homosexual persons, or their ill treatment, is totally against Christian charity and basic principles of pastoral care.’

It is intolerable that no Nigerian Bishop or Archbishop has issued a statement condemning the threats of violence and intimidation against Mr Mac-Iyalla.

By their silence, they are tacitly showing approval for those members of the Church of Nigeria who believe they have the blessing of their church to abuse another Anglican and threaten to commit murder by drenching him in acid.

Both Archbishop Akinola and Bishop Martyn Minns are now implicated in the deep and destructive prejudice shown towards lesbian and gay people in Nigeria, characterised by the threats against Davis Mac-Iyalla and the Church of Nigeria‘s support for the proposed anti-gay legislation.

In Dar es Salaam, in front of Canon David Anderson and Canon Chris Sugden, I asked Bishop Minns to contact Canon Akintunde Popoola and tell him to cease issuing lies and false statements about Davis.

These statements have encouraged Nigerian church members to visit Mr Mac-Iyalla and threaten him with death.  I have not yet received confirmation from Bishop Minns that he has done this, nor that such assurances have been given.”

Time is now urgent.  Mr Mac-Iyalla has been forced into hiding yet again.

The Primatial and Episcopal leaders of the Church of Nigeria are acting with blind disregard for the safety of one of their own church members.  They are deliberately supporting a bill which contravenes basic human rights and justice and renders the listening process impossible in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, the “anti-gay” Bill continues to progress through the Senate of the Nigerian Parliament.  It has gone through its ‘second reading’ and has now been referred to the Senate Committee on Human Rights.

Speculation is rife that the bill would be passed soon, before the Parliament winds up in about two weeks, prior to next month’s General Election.

“Most of us at the Human Rights Coalition are worried and wondering how the bill got to the Senate less than a week after a Public Hearing was held by the Lower House,” said one Nigerian LGBT activist in an email from inside Nigeria.

“Normally the Lower House approves a Bill before it is sent to the Senate for consideration.  There is no doubt that all this rushing and short cutting are all in the effort by the Nigerian Government to ensure that the draconian bill becomes a law.

“So it is clear that Nigeria is about to make a legislative mistake.  The Nigerian government is on the verge of putting into place a legislation that will ridicule its democracy and human rights obligations.  Yes Africa’s most populous nation is on the fast to making homophobia a state policy.”

■  The Nigerian Government is being urged by groups ranging from the United Nations to Amnesty International not to rush into passing this Bill without adequate consultations and discussions on the human rights implications.

If passed, the Bill would not only ban ‘gay marriage’ but would also make it technically illegal for anyone to have any form of same-sex relationship, to visit a gay website and other draconian measures.

Four independent UN experts reported last month that the Bill, if passed, could force gay men and women further ‘underground’ and even weaken efforts to educate people about HIV/Aids and it prevention.


Nigerian National Assembly Advances Draconian Anti-Gay Bill.  By Rex Wockner. The Women Affairs and Youth Committee of Nigeria's House of Representatives held a hearing on February. 14 on an extreme antigay bill that some activists had believed was not going to see any action.  (UK Gay News, February 28, 2007)

UN Experts Oppose Proposed Nigerian Ban on Gays Voicing serious concern over a proposed Nigerian bill which would effectively outlaw same-sex relationships, four independent United Nations experts have said it would violate international human rights norms, and urged the Government to withdraw it immediately.  (UK Gay News, February 25, 2007)

Humanist Jeered for Supporting Gay Rights at Nigerian Public Hearing.  A Nigerian Humanist was repeatedly jeered in Abuja last week during his statement opposing the proposed new anti-gay legislation in Nigeria, the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association revealed last night.  (UK Gay News, February 19, 2007)

IGLHRC Report: Gay Nigerians Respond to Same-Sex Prohibition Act.  Nigerian lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgenders speak out against a proposed law in a new report by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC).  (UK Gay News, February 18, 2007)

Euro MEPs Gay Rights Intergroup Concerned By Draft Nigerian Law.  The controversial draft law that is currently going through the Nigerian legislative process would violate basic human rights, the European Parliament’s ‘Intergroup’ on gay and lesbian rights reiterated today.  (UK Gay News, February 15, 2007)

Christian Gay Group Meets Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola.  Davis Mac-Iyalla, director of the Christian gay group Changing Attitude Nigeria, briefly met Archbishop Peter Akinola, Primate of All Nigeria, today.  (UK Gay News, February 14, 2007)

Nigerian Gay Christian Group Appeals to Anglican Primates.  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.  (UK Gay News, February 13, 2007)




Posted: 6 March 2007 at 15:30 (UK time)