Friday, 17 January 2014

update on anti-gay legislation in Uganda and Nigeria

The situation in Uganda has become even less clear than before. Jim Burroway reports in this article: Status of Uganda’s Anti-Homosesexuality Bill Is Completely Up in the Air … Including, Possibly, Its Death Penalty.

… Earlier this morning Kampala time, Daily Monitor reported that President Yoweri Museveni had “blocked” the Anti-Homosexuality Bill which had been passed in Parliament in December with an apparent lack of quorum. (The pro-government New Vision makes no mention of Museveni’s letter, at least not on its online edition. The Uganda Media Centre, the government’s official press office, is similarly silent this morning.) Most other major media outlets reporting on this development are citing the Daily Monitor story.

Museveni’s letter to Parliament Speaker Rebecca Kadaga criticizing Parliament’s vote on December 20 was dated December 28 but only made public today. All of this leaves up in the air the bill’s precise status. Does Museveni’s letter represent a formal rejection of the legislation under the Constitution’s Article 91 (3) (b)? That seems to be the assumption most media outlets are making. It’s certainly what the Daily Monitor story implies, although it doesn’t say so explicitly…

The original Daily Monitor article is here: Museveni blocks Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

This development has also been picked up by the BBC: Uganda President Yoweri Museveni blocks anti-gay law.

Meanwhile, in relation to the similar legislation in Nigeria, there is this report explaining The Simple Reason Nigeria Just Banned Gay Marriage And Gay Meetings.

Also, Ekklesia has this commentary by Savi Hensman Nigeria’s anti-gay law: persecuting minorities, forsaking Christ.

And today, a petition has been launched, directed at the Archbishops of Canterbury and York: please speak out against human rights abuses in Nigeria.

Dear Archbishops Justin and John,

As you will know, Nigeria has just enacted some of the most extreme anti-gay laws on the planet. The Church of Nigeria, in particular retired Archbishop Akinola, has been supporting the bill for many years, and only last year the Bishop of the Anglican Diocese, Asaba, Justus Mogekwu, appealed to President Goodluck Jonathan to assent to the anti-gay marriage bill. As Anglicans [and fellow Christians of other traditions], we call on both of you to oppose these laws, publicly and privately, in word and deed.

The new Nigerian laws include the following draconian provisions:

  • Up to 14 years in jail for people in same-sex relationships
  • Up to 10 years for anyone who ‘directly or indirectly’ shows same-sex affection in public.
  • Up to 10 years in jail for anyone who participates in an organisation which works to protect gay rights, including straight allies. This could criminalise human rights defenders and even two people just meeting for a coffee if they are known to be gay or bisexual.

The situation is urgent. Sweeping arrests of gay people are already taking place in some parts of the country. A man in Bauchi has already endured 20 lashes, ordered by a court, for ‘homosexual offences’.

Anglicans have different points of view on whether it is morally acceptable to enter a sexual relationship with somebody of the same gender. But surely we can all agree that nobody should be locked up because of who they love and nobody should be locked up for organising against an unjust law?

Even the hardline Resolution I.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference committed the Anglican Communion to opposing ‘irrational fear of homosexuals’. It is time for that opposition to take the form of concrete action.

In the Gospels, Christ tells us that whatever we do for the least of His brothers and sisters, we do for Him. He also says that whatever we ask the Father in His name will be granted. We believe that your influence can limit the degree to which these laws are implemented and can help prevent their spread to other parts of Africa.

Remaining silent means turning a blind eye as some of the most vulnerable people on the planet are imprisoned or flogged. It also risks destroying the credibility of Christianity in England and many other parts of the world where homophobia is considered scandalous.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 17 January 2014 at 6:15pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion

If the archbishops need telling then they are not leading. What is their problem ?

Posted by: Revd Laurie Roberts on Friday, 17 January 2014 at 6:43pm GMT

People thought to be gay are being arrested across Nigeria :

The archbishop of Canterbury he say :

Posted by: Revd Laurie Roberts on Friday, 17 January 2014 at 7:29pm GMT

Looks like ¨our differences that are to be held in tension and covered with prayer¨ (++Justin Welby/sermon/Guatemala City) are simply the tension and deadly/real fear that LGBT Anglicans in Nigeria and Uganda must feel as they pray for survival (and feel despised by their Anglican Church leaders and other accomplices at the ACNA/other).

Archbishops (all/everywhere), please stop playing pretend that LGBTI Anglicans are NOT being demonized and persecuted in most parts of Africa and beyond!

Cowards and bullies, religiouslike or not, must be made to understand the pure evil they initiate toward ALL others at the Anglican Communion when they contaminate humanity by validating pogroms!

Pogroms and witch-hunts conducted with or without words of approval by YOU are emotionally and spiritually sick.

Archbishops, Presiding Bishops/etc, you have work to do to save REAL LGBT lives in Africa...NOW!

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Friday, 17 January 2014 at 8:10pm GMT

The man in Bauchi was publicly flogged for 'homosexual offences' committed almost a decade ago when he was 13. He told the BBC he was only relieved that he wasn't hanged.

I feel physically ill.

Don't just sign the petition. Make sure you e-mail it around people you know - and not just ones who would normally be overtly sympathetic to LGBT causes - and if you use social media, share it there.

Posted by: The Rev'd Mervyn Noote on Friday, 17 January 2014 at 10:29pm GMT

The saga goes on. The sooner Canterbury and the Anglican Communion dissociates itself from GAFCON, the better for all concerned - except, of course, for the Gay people left behind in the Global South.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Friday, 17 January 2014 at 10:37pm GMT

The hard truth is that, within both the Church of England and the Anglican Communion, opponents of homosexuality are rich and powerful, and its defenders are weak and poor. Might, as so often, makes right.

A small number of wealthy & popular evangelical churches could bankrupt the Church of England overnight. Whoever holds the purse strings controls the policy. Until opinion formers like Rick Warren, Tom Wright and Nicky Gumbel are persuaded that the Bible doesn't condemn homosexuality, nothing changes.

Whatever some other churches in the Communion lack in cash, they make up for in the prestige of numbers, and appeal to post-colonialist guilt.

Regardless of morality, in terms of realpolitik, Welby has a lot more to lose by condemning Uganda and Nigeria than he stands to gain. A carefully-worded statement will, I'm sure, come out in due course, but if liberals want to be listened to on this, they need to bring something tangible to the table. Unless they can produce numbers and cash, they'll continue to be ignored.

Posted by: James Byron on Saturday, 18 January 2014 at 6:27am GMT

Story on Al Jazeera

Posted by: Kennedy on Saturday, 18 January 2014 at 8:52am GMT

What James Byron said! Truly. And bemoaning the fact that Christian morality in the CofE has become a simple matter of interpreting the Bible 'correctly.'

Posted by: Lorenzo Fernandez-Vicente on Saturday, 18 January 2014 at 9:13am GMT

"Museveni continued: "You cannot call an abnormality an alternative orientation. It could be that the Western societies, on account of random breeding, have generated many abnormal people," he said, adding that other people became gay for "mercenary reasons", or, in the case of lesbians, a lack of sex with men." - ALJAZEERA Report -

Perhaps one should just be grateful that President Museveni refuses to sign the Bill into Law.

However, this part of his statement for his reasons for not signing is almost as lethal for Gays in Uganda. The complete lack of understanding of the etiology of the homosexual condition shows a refusal to acknowledge the reality of the human condition - with which the GAFCON Archbishops are also associated.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Saturday, 18 January 2014 at 9:59am GMT

The two archbishops must speak up. The Christian authenticity of the Anglican Communion is challenged by this possibly more than by any other matter in its long and glorious history.

Posted by: Spirit of Vatican II on Saturday, 18 January 2014 at 10:43am GMT

Al Jazeera cites Museveni - 'lesbians, he said, chose female partners because of "sexual starvation" and the failure to marry a man.'

I'm delighted he isn't going to sign the Bill, but this myth is exactly that cited by perpetrators of 'corrective rape'.

Posted by: The Rev'd Mervyn Noote on Saturday, 18 January 2014 at 11:17am GMT

What are the Catholic hierarchies in Uganda and Nigeria saying?

Posted by: Robert Ian williams on Saturday, 18 January 2014 at 2:12pm GMT

Truly, if leaders do not speak out on *this* abominable oppression, with which the Anglican Communion in Uganda and Nigeria is (at least) entangled, then I'm bound to hurl Godwin's Law at them, and ask: would you have spoken out against Hitler's treatment of the Jews? would you have spoken out against racial segregation in the US or South Africa? and why, apart from some kind of discriminating subtlety, are the lives of gay and lesbian people any less precious?

Things are being incited - ***with religious mandate*** - that are frankly fascist. The proposed sentences are odious. And the Anglican Communion is there.

The beleaguered men and women whose personal and private lives are caught up in all this, and who find themselves in danger, need voices to speak out and say: "This. Is. Wrong."

In black and white.

Otherwise I cannot respect the position of our leaders in the UK... because the mandate the Anglican Communion gives to these pernicious laws is 'not in my name'.

To be silent is highly political. To be silent is to collaborate.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Saturday, 18 January 2014 at 2:17pm GMT

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York are still silent over human rights abuses in Nigeria.
Hear the latest to the on-going persecutions, the Nigerian government are now stopping provision of health services to LGBT Nigerians “Society for Family Health and other NGOs with programs targeted at men who have sex with men have received a formal letter from the government demanding they put a stop to all such programs.”

Posted by: Davis Mac-Iyalla on Saturday, 18 January 2014 at 3:05pm GMT

Homophobia is the iceberg that may sink historical institutional Christianity, and not just in the west.

As far as I'm concerned, bishops' silence (including Roman bishops) on the pogrom in Nigeria amounts to complicity.

What began in on a hot June night in 1969 in New York as street kids, transexuals, and patrons fought back against a routine police raid on a gay bar has now awakened the expectations of sexual minorities around the world. The disproportionate violence against gays and lesbians by state policy in Africa, the Muslim world, and in Eastern Europe, and cheered on by the likes of Scott Lively, Fred Phelps, Peter LaBarbera, and any number of Roman bishops, Orthodox bishops, and Muslim mullahs is an increasingly desperate attempt to stop something that is ultimately unstoppable.

Posted by: FD Blanchard on Saturday, 18 January 2014 at 3:44pm GMT

How could any compassionate human being anywhere not be willing to sign this petition?

Posted by: Davis d'Ambly on Saturday, 18 January 2014 at 4:44pm GMT

I'm waiting to hear from 'Archbishop' Robert Duncan of the ACNA. After all the very existence of his 'Province' is predicated on an anti-gay stance, supported by Nigeria. If he remains silent then it can only be assumed that he is happy with and supportive of what is happening in Nigeria

Posted by: Concerned Anglican on Saturday, 18 January 2014 at 6:11pm GMT

Sahara Reporters did a program on the anti-gay law; hear what a catholic archbishop is saying. "We feel great and we thank God that this bill was passed." – Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama

Posted by: Davis Mac-Iyalla on Saturday, 18 January 2014 at 8:00pm GMT

"The Archbishops of Canterbury and York are still silent over human rights abuses in Nigeria."

That's because given the choice between leaving vulnerable people to be killed and pandering to conservative GAFCON bishops, Welby and Sentamu are willing to choose the latter. That's the thing about being an Archbishop: you can tell yourself that it's OK to stop caring about people, because you have to devote yourself to preserving institutions instead. It's obviously amoral, but it's an amorality that has afflicted most Archbishops since Carey, and probably before then.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Saturday, 18 January 2014 at 8:13pm GMT

Rev Mervyn: It was even worse than that. The man in Bauchi was thankful that he had not been stoned to death.

I am horrified by that case. The law would allow the execution of someone for an offence committed when they were thirteen. What message does it send out to child victims of sex offences? The defendant, at 13, was apparently seduced by a teacher who promised to help him with his education (presumably by paying, or waiving, his school fees). The lad was a victim.

And yet seven years later, he is publicly flogged for the sexual abuse which he suffered. The only good thing about this case is that it completely scuppers the old lie that anti-gay laws are necessary to protect kids from sexual predators. If the law provides that a 13 year old rape victim can be executed for being raped, that is not protection.

Posted by: Sam Roberts on Saturday, 18 January 2014 at 11:49pm GMT

Small wonder so many gays and lesbians agree with the sentiment graffitied on walls around New York City in the weeks following the September 11th attacks:

"Religion is the problem, not the answer."

Posted by: FD Blanchard on Sunday, 19 January 2014 at 12:58pm GMT

It should be routine for popes and archbishops to condemn such barbarity, especially when carried out on pseudo-Christian grounds. Their silences are shameful.

Posted by: Spirit of Vatican II on Monday, 20 January 2014 at 3:41am GMT

Yesterday the Independent published a shocking article about the increased persecution of gay people in Nigeria following the introduction of the new draconian law.

With the full approval of the Anglican church in Nigeria, As LGBT Nation highlights here:

Aloysius Agbo, the Anglican Bishop of Nsukka said Tuesday, “Every Christian in Nigeria is happy about the development … especially when he did that contrary to the pressure from the western world.”

If you haven't already done so, please consider signing the petition Simon has linked to above.

I know that some people have not signed because they are afraid that stronger Western pressure will make things worse for gay people in Nigeria. But how much worse can it get?
Is it not time for our Archbishops to say something about how we are to treat those we consider to be our enemies?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 22 January 2014 at 9:50am GMT

Concerned Anglican, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for the Duncanites to say anything about this development. After all, they are officially an anti-gay organization.

Think about that one for a minute. Other churches might happen to be anti-gay, even violently so, but no other church counts opposition to LGBT people as its very reason for existing. Only ACNA can make that claim.

So my guess is that Duncan and the others have no real problem with what is happening in Nigeria. If anything, they probably envy the Nigerians' their freedom to take action in this area.

Posted by: JPM on Wednesday, 22 January 2014 at 4:23pm GMT

I have to say, I am always really surprised by the lack of criticism from those in the CoE who want to us believe that they are merely opposed to homosexual relationships but that they are not homophobic and that they do not condone violence.
There must be many thousands of those, we all know the outspoken ones on the Internet circuit.

They would have a lot to gain by distancing themselves and our church clearly from this unChristian outrage. And they lose their own credibility if they do not speak out.

I know that even some of our supporters say they don't speak out because they believe that these issues are better dealt with diplomatically behind the scenes. To those I would say - whatever may be happening is clearly not having any effect at all. Time to try another tack.

And there are those who believe that it would actually harm lgbt people in Africa if Westerners spoke out against these laws and the approval of the Nigerian church. Those I would ask - can it possibly get any worse?

I cannot conceive of a single credible reason for not speaking out, from anyone.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 23 January 2014 at 9:05am GMT

Sad to say, but I'm not remotely surprised, Erika. The Church of England's position is amoral through and through.

Opposition to homosexual relationships is itself a homophobic position, whatever theological cloak it wears. The absurd distinction between orientation and "practice" is the worst kind of legalism.

The CofE hierarchy will keep quiet for political reasons. They'll only speak out when it's politically expedient to do so.

Posted by: James Byron on Friday, 24 January 2014 at 6:50pm GMT

James, what I don 't get is that within Britain it would so clearly politically advantageous to speak out. When western governments can speak out how can it be that the CoE doesn't see that it is currently harming its credentials?

Posted by: Erika baker on Saturday, 25 January 2014 at 3:43pm GMT

On a cost-benefit analysis, Erika, it benefits the episcopacy to keep it zipped. Most British citizens ignore the church. There's little social cost in saying nothing.

If people outside the church want to change that, be rude to bishops. Shun 'em. Don't engage socially, and tell 'em why. Make it cost. Underserved politeness is the British curse.

They'll only take action when it inconveniences *them*.

Posted by: James Byron on Sunday, 26 January 2014 at 9:43pm GMT

but isn't that only half of the cost/benefit analysis? There is a cost of doing nothing and a potential benefit of speaking out. We've seen this when the Pope suddenly started to speak out about poverty and about not judging gay people, and suddenly the popularity of the Catholic Church increased, membership is on the rise - although he has not changed one iota of the substance of the church.

The public supported Giles Fraser over Occupy and they support Justin Welby over Payday loans.
Speaking out and standing up for the weak has tremendous benefits.

All it needs is a little courage.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 27 January 2014 at 9:28am GMT
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