Changing Attitude Nigeria
Changing Attitude Nigeria (CAN) deplores the introduction of “A bill for an act to prohibition marriage between persons of same sex, solemnisation of same and for other matters related therewith” in the Nigerian Parliament.
The Bill will have an immediate negative effect, raising prejudice against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGB&T) people in Nigeria and further demonizing us. Tens of thousands of LGB&T will feel more vulnerable as a result. It is likely to lead to outbreaks of persecution and violence against people identified as lesbian and gay and will incite people to hate crimes. It will destroy the self esteem of LGB&T people making many of us think less of ourselves and will lead to rejection in our homes, churches, schools and place of work.
It presents a challenge for all LGB&T people and for CAN, representing Christian gays and lesbians, and Anglicans in particular. We have been campaigning for 7 years for justice and recognition for lesbians and gays in the Church of Nigeria. We are a hidden presence in the Church, singing in choirs, members in every congregation, contributing to the life of the Church. It is not easy for us to come out or campaign publicly because of the great risk to our lives and persons. Lesbian and gay people contribute positively to the growth of the Church and society. We also contribute to the growth of the economy by being self dependent, creating business ideas and employing labour. We are peaceful, law abiding citizen of our country.
The Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Most Rev. Nicholas D. Okoh, speaking last Sunday in Owa during a marriage ceremony, described the practice of homosexuality, lesbianism and gay marriage as great evils that must neither be condoned nor allowed to further exist in our society. He admonished those practising it to repent and come out of it because it’s evil.
Our Archbishop is sadly misguided in his understanding of homosexuality. Homosexuality has nothing to do with demon possession or evil. We gay and lesbian Anglicans in Nigeria are faithful Christians, baptized and confirmed members of our churches, living holy and sacred lives with our families and friends, called by God to be saints.
Changing Attitude Nigeria respectfully says to the Archbishop that lesbian and gay people are not responsible for the growing malaise of sexual immorality among heterosexuals in Nigeria. We are campaigning for the truth to be told and for Nigeria to grant respect and equality for LGB&T people.
The Lambeth Conference 1990 Resolution 1.10 assured homosexual persons 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” and called on “all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of pastoral orientation.”
The Windsor Report 2004 said “any demonizing of homosexual persons, or their ill treatment, is totally against Christian charity and basic principles of pastoral care.”
We call on the Archbishop Nicholas Okoh to fulfil the commitment made by the bishops and primates of the Anglican Communion to stop demonizing us, which he did in his speech at the marriage in Owa.
Uche Sam, Director of Changing Attitude Nigeria, said:
“We will campaign through this crisis to ensure that that Bill will not see the light of the day. Every problem in life comes with a solution and we pass through tests in life to be challenged by God to be faithful in love.
“I see this Bill as an opportunity to move forward to the next level of our total liberation of all LGBTQI persons in Nigeria and Africa as a whole. Change will happen because change is the only constant thing in life and change for LGBTQI people in Nigeria will happen in our lifetime.
We will work with the support of other international organisations which will add pressure on the Nigerian Government. We look forward to working alongside Kaleidoscope International Diversity Trust, recently formed in the UK. We know the Governments of the UK and USA together with the United Nations, Amnesty International and ILGA, will work behind the scenes and in public to defeat the Bill.
The time has come to rally round and let our voices be heard. May God give us the wisdom and courage to rise up to this challenge. Nigerians must see the reason why they should accept us and that the anti gay marriage bill must be killed.
Director Changing Attitude Nigeria.