Homosexual acts were already illegal in Nigeria, but far from relaxing these old colonial laws, both the scope of the law and its penalties have been increased.
The Prohibition of Same-sex Marriage Bill now makes it illegal to be in a same-sex marriage in Nigeria with a prison sentence of up to 14 years. Membership of LGB&T groups is now also illegal, both for LGB&T people and for heterosexual friends and advocates, and is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Religious leaders, both Christian and Muslim, have united in calling for, and supporting these new laws. In particular, leaders of the Anglican Church in Nigeria have vocally supported these new laws, in clear contravention of the worldwide Anglican Churches official position in the ‘Lambeth 1.10’ statement which “calls on all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals”.
Lambeth 1.10 is often held up by conservative Anglicans as a document which rejects “homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture” but it also contains a call to all Anglican leaders to uphold and be proactive in promoting openness and listening to the experience of LGB&T people.
Paragraph (c) states:
“We commit ourselves to listen to the experience of homosexual persons and we wish to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ.”
It is hard to see how the Anglican Church in Nigeria can think that imprisoning people for entering into a loving covenant relationship (even if they disagree with such relationships) can live up to the standards of Lambeth 1.10
Action has been swift since the Law was enacted, with scores of homosexuals arrested and punished.
In response to this dire situation, there is a petition on Change.org which calls on the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to challenge Nigerian Anglican leaders. Please sign up if you are able…
Elsewhere in Africa there is some good news in Uganda where the President has refused to sign the notorious anti-gay laws which have been making their way through Parliament over the last 2 years. The law completed the parliamentary hurdles late last year, but the final vote took place without enough MP’s present to make the vote valid.
However the President’s letter explaining his decision exposes the depth of ignorance and misunderstanding which exists, even among educated political leaders.
According to President Musenveni, “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” adding that many women are lesbians because of “sexual starvation” if they fail to find a husband.
He does not, however think that imprisonment is the answer.
“The question at the core of the debate of homosexuality is; what do we do with an abnormal person? Do we kill him/her? Do we imprison him/her? Or we do contain him/her?”
He thinks not, but the Ugandan Parliament can still force the Bill through with a two-thirds majority.
The Nigerian Petition can be found at: