Comments: Nigerian senate passes anti-gay bill

Freedom (of Nigeria's Senators---not their LGBT citizens of course!), it's time to meet Consquences.

Posted by JCF at Saturday, 3 December 2011 at 7:50pm GMT

I'm a Nigerian, living in Nigeria, so it's great to be the one of the first to post a comment on this article.

Africa is homophobic. I know there have been studies written by all kinds of academics about how African societies had a non-homophobic past, but that is besides the point. Twenty-first century Africa is homophobic.

Everyone knew that David Cameron's statement would result in open defiance. The Nigerian bill was entirely predictable.

Cast your minds back. African Anglican prelates were willing to forego support from richer Western Churches in order to maintain their stance against homosexuality. Many African Governments (and people) will be willing to forego life-saving AIDS treatment for their citizens to do the same.

Understand the African mind. We are used to death. Many more African children die from malaria, cholera and many other preventable disease than from AIDS.

And life still goes on.....

This is sad, but it is just what it is.

Now, to my main point. The best way to fight ingrained homophobia is not for the nation that introduced a homophobic penal code to Africa in the first place, to suddenly claim "it has seen the light" and start withholding funding.

It will backfire.

We also have to stop demonising entire populations in Africa and start working to change attitudes to homosexuality.

There is no other way to go about it.

Posted by Skilbo at Sunday, 4 December 2011 at 3:22pm GMT

Let me add this for emphasis.

Neither Nigeria nor Ghana really need British aid. Nigeria can pump out 2 million barrels of crude oil on a good day and Ghana has several billion barrels of crude oil reserves.

Also we may be overstating the importance of aid. Government officials love foreign aid (more money to embezzle), but it means little to the man on the street. For example, I live in Lagos where 75% of all school children attend private schools (primary and secondary) and even the poorest of the poor prefer to seek medical attention from private hospitals.

(**DFID spending on education impacts on a rapidly dwindling number of students in Lagos).

Uganda and Malawi would be harder hit, but Uganda now has significant oil reserves and Malawi would be driven to improve governance if the aid money flow is cut off (or seek funding from the Chinese).

If want we want to achieve is greater acceptance of gays. We need to do something else, and fast.

Posted by Skilbo at Sunday, 4 December 2011 at 7:51pm GMT

"We also have to stop demonising entire populations in Africa and start working to change attitudes to homosexuality."

I agree, Skilbo (FWIW, I have *never* demonized Africans, and I always condemn it whenever I see someone do so. However, I must point out that a generalization like "Africa is homophobic" partakes of the same "they're all the same" type thinking)

"If want we want to achieve is greater acceptance of gays. We need to do something else, and fast."

So, what do YOU think that "something else" should be?

As a taxpayer, I will *NOT* subsidize the oppression of my LGBT kin around the world. I won't do it.

Give us some ***other options***, between the equally unacceptable blind-eye towards evil, and collective-punishment of the innocent.

Posted by JCF at Sunday, 4 December 2011 at 10:47pm GMT

I, for one, appreciate 'Skilbo's' openness on this thread. Firstly, he admits that Nigeria is 'homophobic' - this is a matter of fact, and is probably directly related to the influence of the early Christian missionaries. So we Western Christians, who have 'seen the light' on the gender and sexuality front, need to appreciate our earlier culture of ignorance on the problems of cultic patriarchalism and its influence on biblical fundamentalism as is embraced today in Christianised African culture.

Until the Western Churches admit their failure to encourage hermeneutical research into the affects of cultural empiricism on our planting of the Scriptures into the territory of indigenous cultures, we have to live with the fact that we are being judged by our own standards of what were seen to be purity and holiness of life in the Victorian era.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 4 December 2011 at 11:15pm GMT

JCF,

There are no options. Neither you nor your government has the ability to solve this problem. It will be solved by Africans.

You can facilitate the process and you can contribute to spreading awareness, but you cannot solve the problem.

That's the first thing you need to understand.

The second thing is that your government doesn't just give aid for altruistic reasons. Britain benefits much more from Nigeria than vice-versa. Aid is merely a tool to buy influence. Everything else is a "nice to have".

The truth is that your government will huff and puff and make all the right noises to satisfy the likes of Peter Thatchell. Don't for a moment think that the United Kingdom will risk billions of dollars invested by Shell in the Niger Delta for the Nigerian homosexual community.

At the end of the day, we'll still have to return to what we've being doing before - changing attitudes.

Posted by Skilbo at Monday, 5 December 2011 at 1:29pm GMT

Skilbo is exactly correct. More events such as the Chicago/Ujamaa consultation of last month will be needed, where people can gather face to face and speak openly. Such things can't really be "church sponosred" and the road will be through academia. The event was powerful for all concerned, perhaps most especially for the westerners actually to have the opportunity to hear African concerns and attitudes in a context away from any sense of coercion. Attitudes change from within out, and the western attitude of dominance and moral superiority has to change as well, simply as a practical matter. On the BBC news report this a.m. a Nigerian senator proudly said that the withholding of funds by Britain suits his cause in favor of the anti-gay legislation nicely: it goes to prove that this is a Western incursion.

Posted by Tobias Haller at Monday, 5 December 2011 at 3:34pm GMT

Of course the anti-LGBT ¨religious folk¨ can´t be bought in Africa to act all excepting of ¨Gay¨ citizens...of course the American ¨C¨ Street folk haven´t pushed and promoted anti-LGBT punishment/control in Uganda¨ along with some of the even less ¨noble appearing¨ exporting of homophobia fundamentalist gang of ¨kill the gay¨ instigators.

I think somehow the money that is ¨gifting¨ it´s way into many of the most conservative, and often dangerous to LGBT, Anglican Churches in Africa (Uganda is a ¨open to receive¨ example) ought be reminded that substituting the source of income from ¨progressive includers¨ to ¨evangelical zealots haters¨ in the U.S.A./U.K./beyond...isn´t really much of a high moral standard step up...only the paymaster is different but the LGBT loathing remains the same and the cash flows and flows in the name of a God I do not know.

Posted by Leonardo Ricardo at Monday, 5 December 2011 at 7:42pm GMT

Leonardo,

Even the average college-educated, middle-class African is homophobic. And these attitudes have absolutely nothing to do with the sinister machinations of your favourite right-wing American bogey men. It is just the way it is.

I've worked with the most intelligent and educated Nigerians, and they are almost uniformly homophobic (I'm not talking about Nigerians who live abroad).

Consider the Arab Spring. The fantasy was that the facebook warriors and the twitterati were representative of the average Egyptian. The elections results burst that bubble.

You have three options, you can vent on about "evangelical zealots" or work to change attitudes or keep quiet. The best line of action is to change attitudes. Attitudes towards AIDS and condoms are changing because efforts are being made to communicate directly with the African people.

This should be the focus of the second missionary project.

Posted by Skilbo at Tuesday, 6 December 2011 at 11:09am GMT

I think we would ALL agree about "work to change attitudes", Skilbo.

The question is, "How?"

LGBTs around the world FEEL FOR (com-passion) our kin in Nigeria (as everywhere else they are persecuted).

Yet your tone of annoyance seems to indicate you would prefer (despite your 3 options above) us to "keep quiet".

So "Work to change attitudes [I could swear there was an organization w/ that name!], HOW???"

Please be constructive, instead of just reactive (I recognize that goes both ways). Thank you.

Posted by JCF at Tuesday, 6 December 2011 at 9:40pm GMT

How?

By using the mass media in the local language. American evangelicals have several TV channels I can name (Daystar TV, GOD TV, TBN etc). In addition to scores of outreach materials.

When I mention this, people claim that "we shouldn't play the same game". But that's the best way to communicate directly to the African people.

If one cannot explain in simple language to the average African why gays should be accepted, then not much ground will be gained.

And the FCO and the State Department are not going to do that job for us.

Posted by Skilbo at Wednesday, 7 December 2011 at 5:18am GMT

FWIW, as far as my nationality goes, this (not David Cameron) is who speaks for me to the world: http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2011/12/178368.htm

Proud of you, Madame Secretary!

Posted by JCF at Wednesday, 7 December 2011 at 6:46am GMT

Thank you, Skilbo. That's helpful. (But "people claim..."? Who would that be? No idea here. O_o)

Well, I don't want to dominate this thread any longer---but I'd love to hear other responses.

Posted by JCF at Wednesday, 7 December 2011 at 9:13am GMT

JCF
Through Changing Attitude (changingattitude.org.uk) you can get in touch with 'Changing Attitude in Nigeria', get to know some of the people and ask them what they think you could do to help.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 7 December 2011 at 10:59am GMT

JCF,

That is welcome news, but how will it pan out. Saudi Arab and the rest of the Arab World are out of bounds. Richer African nations like Nigeria and Ghana can do without the aid. So that leaves us with a few poor non-Islamic nations in Sub-Saharan Africa. (who might seek alternatives like China).

At the end of the day, the poor people, not the elite will suffer. Cuba has survived many decades of US sanctions. Mugabe still has his job and he is likely to die in office.

There are two methods of enforcing / encouraging behaviour. The first are sanctions. Sanctions worked with South Africa, but since then, the record has been patchy.

The second is by persistent encouragement of good behaviour, activism and dialogue. If the same UK that treated a genius like Alan Turing so shamefully could make a transition to full equality a few decades later, we need to ask how and why that transition was made.

At the end of the day, Mrs. Clinton's statement is more about domestic politics than anything else. I cannot see how this thing will work, given that the US has close links with some of Africa's worst human rights abusers.

Posted by Skilbo at Wednesday, 7 December 2011 at 5:34pm GMT

JCF,

Oops, I didn't read her remarks before posting.

I think the US approach is better. Using aid to promote gay rights is a better course of action than threatening to withhold aid.

Posted by Skilbo at Wednesday, 7 December 2011 at 5:36pm GMT

Read this to understand how Africans are reacting to this announcement.

We have a long way to go.

http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=225123&comment=0#com

Posted by Skilbo at Wednesday, 7 December 2011 at 5:41pm GMT
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