Nigerian bishop not Jamaican homophobe threatens UK gay activist

I came to Jamaica in the knowledge that it is a very homophobic country and I would need to be very careful and discrete here. I assumed that if I were to be threatened, it would be by a hostile Jamaican man. I was wrong. I have been threatened thos morning by Bishop Ikechi Nwosu of the Church of Nigeria, reinforced by the Ven Dr Abraham Okorie, the Nigerian clergy delegate.

Following the 8.30 press briefing, at which Canon Chris Sugden from Anglican Mainstream was not present. After the meeting I wandered downstairs to the swimming pool. Across the breakfast room I saw Canon Sugden with the Bishop Nwosu, Dr Okorie and Stanley Isaacs from South East Asia (the latter three ACC delegates. Also with them were Philip Asher and Julian Dobbs. I thought the group was worth a photograph because Canon Sugden had engaged in conversations similar to this at the Primates’ meeting in Dar es Salaam.

Having taken the photograph, I returned to the press room. Bishop Nwosu and Dr Okorie suddenly burst into the room and immediately challenged me. The bishop demanded that I gave him my camera. I had no right to take his photograph without his permission, he said. Calmly, I said no, I am not giving you my camera. He was seething with anger, looming over me, jabbing his finger at me. He was intimidating and very frightening. I understood how Nigerian bishops can so successfully and easily intimidate their own people.

I asked him whether this was the way a bishop should speak to another priest in the Anglican Communion. He continued with his demands that I give him my camera. I asked him if he was angry because I am a gay man. Yes, he said.

For one last time, he asked me, more appropriately, let me have that camera please. I responded firmly and calmly, no (though I felt anything but calm inside). You will see the consequences, he said as he finally gave up and left the room.

The incident raises a number of very serious issues. Why was he so angry at having his photograph taken in a public place? I have taken several pictures of him in the meeting room, where there are rules about taking photographs that I have signed to comply with, but I haven’t as yet used them.

Why was he so angry at having his picture taken in that context. What does he have to hide? Well, I can guess, and normally, the conservative strategy is to hire rooms in an adjoining hotel and hold meetings away from the public gaze.

Having failed to get what they wanted from Friday’s debate on the Covenant (just read the conservative web sites, blogs and commentaries), their next move would be to come up with a strategy today designed to sabotage this meeting or impose their own will.

Stanley Isaacs also leapt upstairs after me and turned his anger on a group of American journalists standing in the foyer. The atmosphere for me now is very unpleasant here. I know there is a Nigerian bishop present whose anger is almost uncontrollable.

Conservative plots are nothing new to me, nor will they be to those reading this blog. I was reminded of the attempt by Bishop Emmanuel Chukwuma to exorcise Richard Kirker at Lambeth 1998.. What has shocked me this morning is Bishop Nwosu’s attempt to threaten and intimidate me. Isn’t this what conservatives are doing all the time to our Communion, all the time trying to hide behind a façade of niceness and reasonableness?

Comments

  1. Leonardo Ricardo says

    Yes, but I never noticed the ¨niceness and reasonableness¨ part…I will post your picture on my blog and link to this story if you don´t mind…please let me know if you think it in appropriate but I think this needs lots of exposure and my blog receives lively traffic (although few comments).

    Be careful, and good for you for not submitting to the abusive and threatening tactics…the same old abusive tactics that seem to work, temporarily, on innocent Anglicans in Nigeria, Uganda, South East Asia and beyond…these men seem very disturbed…wonder why?

    Onward.

  2. Jim says

    I think these guys are nervous about people figuring out the extent to which individuals at these meetings with press credentials are actually calling the shots for the Anglican right.

  3. James says

    Double portions of prayers wafting yoru way. You are so correct, this disgraceful attitude is exactly what they are attempting to do to the communion as a whole. And these are the jokers who wish to run the communion.

    Thank you for exposing this. God’s blessings my brother.

  4. Tobias Stanislas Haller says

    Keep the faith and witness, and keep safe! Bullies do not want to be exposed. What does it say on the Compassrose? “The truth shall make you free…”

  5. The Rev. Dr. Christian Troll says

    If he tries coming near you again tell him you’ll give him cooties if he touches you. His type are always terrified of cooties.

    Looks like they’re also terrified of the truth getting out that someone else really is pulling their strings in return for giving them lots of lovely plane tickets and other baubles.

  6. Una says

    “Make peace within you. Let it flow and a thousand will find their peace around you”, Colin. Thank y9ou for being there for us all. Come h9me safe. Love and prayer Una

  7. Jim says

    So the bishop is a bully. Why am I not surprised?

    If he comes again, you might try telling him you are attracted to dominant men. 😉

  8. Bobby says

    A Bishop who runs after you so aggressively just for taking a picture, you can imagine the kind of sermons he preaches and what he will do if anyone in his diocese come out as gay or even speak in support of lgbt people.shame!

  9. Ginny says

    Every picture tells a story, and the one this image is telling is not a pretty tale.

    What are they holding? Programs?

    Be safe, and know that you are held up in the prayers of many.

  10. JayV says

    Colin, read about this over at Mad Priest and tought I’d just send you hugs and courage from Vermont, USA. (I met a few CA folks when I lived in London and attended St James’s, Piccadilly.) Cheers, m8.

  11. terri c says

    Merciful heavens what a bunch of idiots. I like the suggestion made by Jim, above. Came over from Mad Priest. Stay safe. I don’t know who these players are exactly but if they didn’t want folks wondering what they were up to, they should have just ignored you.

  12. Pat Klemme says

    Thanks to MadPriest for sending us to support you and your work, Rev. Colin! I am praying for your safety and thanking you and God for your courage and integrity as you document ACC-14 for us, LGBT Anglicans worldwide. Amen!

  13. Saintly Ramblings says

    Congratulations on standing firm in the face of intimidation. Not easy. I agree this tale needs to be told. I shall put a link on my blog (for all the good that will do ….!)

  14. Muthah+ says

    Prayers abound, brother.

    But remember that bullies are basically frightened people and consequently irrational and can be dangerous. It is clear that he has never learned to trust in God;therefore you must

  15. Two Auntees says

    Too bad you don’t have a picture of him yelling at you but that would have been dangerous. Thank you for the work you do.

  16. Colin Coward says

    Thanks to everyone who has commented. You have been an encouragement and inspiration to me and a reminder that beyond the many holy people who are present at this meeting and the amazing Anglicans of Jamaica there are passionate, prayerful Anglicans across the globe who are Kingdom people, working passionately for an open and inclusive church

  17. Марко Фризия says

    The photograph is interesting enough. I wish video or audio of this encounter would show up. And it would have been fascinating if Jamaican police or hotel security would have witnessed his attempts to force you to surrender your camera. If anything like this happens again, yell “Help, police!” It sounds like he almost lost total control of himself. I think trying to strong-arm a camera away from some one could be construed as attempted robbery. Prayers for you and best wishes to you. Thank you for your witness and work.

  18. mibi52 says

    Oh, dear. He does sound more than a bit paranoid, doesn’t he? Stay safe, continue to be brave. Prayers for you (and for your camera). I fear for dioceses that are subject to religion by battering ram.

  19. davidicline says

    “I came to Jamaica in the knowledge that it is a very homophobic country and I would need to be very careful and discrete here. I assumed that if I were to be threatened, it would be by a hostile Jamaican man”

    Talk about stereotyping! You need to not follow ALL the ‘reports’ you read/hear. Jamaicans (as a people) are no more homophobic than perhaps you are heterophobic. Perhaps you need to separate the country from those Jamaicans, who, no doubt misguided by the rastafariam sub-culture, could rightly be called homophobic.

    I rather doubt the need for you to be discrete, unless you were doing something that anyone should be discrete about.

    A Jamaican

  20. Colin Coward says

    A little late to post a comment – I meant to resppnd to ‘A Jamaican’ last week.I wasn’t relying on second hand reports when I said that Jamaicans are homophobic but the repeated warnings I receieved from Jamaican Anglicans I met at the ACC meeting and from gay Jamaicans I met online

    I was also corrected and told ythat I shouldn’t assume that it is a rastafarian thing.

    All of them urged me to be discrete about my identity, which alone would be likely to provoke an attack.

    I would have valued conversation with some gay Jamaicans to learn at first hand how they maintain themselves in what locals told me is a dangerous culture for homosexuals, but no-one was prepared to risk meeting me. What conclusion should I draw?

  21. Courageous jamaican says

    Even if i take at face value what this buggering priest wrote i don't see any real intimidation except for the part where the bishop says something like, "You will see."

    This Cowardly article itself is problematic in other ways. The writer admits he stereotyped the whole country and sais he had top be 'careful and discreet."

    About what? Practicing your faith or buggering? You have no problem in JA if you are a bullerman keeping your pecker in your pants. But if you running around trying to bull little boys I an i have a problem with you.

    And we won't be careful or discreet about punishing your bullerasses.

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