Report from the White Sands Hotel, Dar Es Salaam – Day 4

Last night at 1am, unable to sleep, I spent time reading through the comments on Thinking Anglicans. People have posted comments which continue to attack Davis Mac-Iyalla and question his honesty and integrity. Canon Tunde Popoola accused me of having said that on meeting Archbishop Akinola, Davis would either be stoned or that the Archbishop would turn away rather than shake his hand. The Archbishop was, of course, very gracious to both of us. These comments and attitudes continue to undermine Davis’s reputation, encourage those people who are threatening to murder him, and damage my own reputation.

This morning at breakfast, Davis Mac-Iyalla, Caro Hall and myself met Bishop Martyn Minns and his friends at the breakfast table. I brought the posts by Canon Tunde to Bishop Martyn’s attention and reminded him that they are malicious and untrue. I asked him if, as a Bishop of the Church of Nigeria, he would ask his Director of Communications to stop publishing false accusations against Davis which are putting his life at risk and destroying his reputation. Bishop Martin agreed to contact Canon Popoola today.

I am really gratefully to Bishop Martyn for being willing to take an initiative in helping his own church conform to the commitment made in resolution 1.10 of the Lambeth Conference. The bishops committed themselves to listen to the experience of homosexual persons and wished 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. The bishops also said that while rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture, they called on all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals.

It is this irrational fear that Canon Tunde has been fuelling against Davis, and I hope and pray that Bishop Martyn can ensure Canon Tunde fulfils the requirements of Lambeth 1.10 and confirms that Davis is loved by God, a full member of the Body of Christ, and will be ministered to pastorally and sensitively. We’ll meet again at breakfast tomorrow, I hope.

I am also grateful to Angela Minns, Bishop Martyn’s wife, who offered to get any shopping we needed because she was going to central Dar this morning. I appreciate her kind and generous offer.

Canon Tunde has also continued to allege that Davis is using his friendship with me to seek asylum in another country, not because he is at risk because of his sexuality, but because he wants for personal reasons to escape to the West. This is totally untrue. Davis would have claimed asylum in Switzerland last year at the ILGA conference if that was his goal.

Davis understands that Archbishop Peter Akinola is still supporting the Bill before the Nigerian parliament which was debated on Wednesday 14 February, which if passed would further criminalize all gay activity in Nigeria. The Bill is expected to be passed into law in March. The Bill is a piece of civil legislation, and the Anglican Church of Nigeria should be vigorously opposing it, again because of the commitment of all Anglicans, and Archbishop Akinola in particular, to assure homosexual persons of the love of God and condemn irrational fear. Irrational fear is exactly what this legislation will encourage. I hope Bishop Martyn will ensure that his Primate adds his support to the international and Nigerian voices opposing the bill.

Every lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Anglican is affected by the attitudes taken by individual Provinces. If we are to take seriously the teaching and expectations placed on us by Lambeth Conference resolution 1.10, then we equally expect Primates and bishops to fulfil those parts of 1.10 which protect us and confirm God’s love for us. As Angela Minns has faithfully reminded us each day, we are loved by Jesus too.

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