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Monday, June 11, 2007

Davis Mac-Iyalla in Diocese of Newark

Nigerian activist tells his story
Episcopal Life Online

(snip)The Executive Council meeting, at the Sheraton hotel in Parsippany, New Jersey, began with three hours of committee meetings on the morning of June 11 and another two hours in the late afternoon with the plenary session in between. Council had dinner with representatives of the host Diocese of Newark.

During the plenary session, Jefferts Schori and Anderson reported on their activities since the March Council meeting.

Later in the afternoon, Nigerian Anglican Davis Mac-Iyalla, founder of his country's only gay-rights organization, Changing Attitude Nigeria, met with Council's International Concerns (INC) and National Concerns (NAC) committees. (snip)

Mac-Iyalla told the joint INC_NAC that Anglican Church of Nigeria Archbishop and Primate Peter Akinola has been directly involved in Mac-Iyalla called a "deadly bill" pending before the Nigerian legislature that would make homosexuality punishable by five years in prison and would criminalize any association with gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. The bill, he said, "would make us outcasts in our own country."

Mac-Iyalla said Akinola has gone to legislators and government leaders, including Anglicans, and pressured them to write the bill as a way to prevent his organization from gaining any more strength. Changing Attitudes Nigeria has about 2,500 gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender members, according to Mac-Iyalla. He also suggested that Akinola worked for the bill so that the Listening Process called for by the Windsor Report would be stymied by the government's laws.

It is a lie, he said, for Akinola and others to claim that there are no homosexual people in Nigeria, explaining that many languages spoken in Nigeria had words to describe people in same-gender relationships long before white missionaries came to Africa. Such terms, he said, indicate that Africans have always acknowledged people who are attracted to members of their gender.

"It is wrong to say that homosexuality is a Western, imported culture," Mac-Iyalla said.

Saying that most Nigerians are more worried about eating than they are about homosexuality, Mac-Iyalla said, "the Anglican Church is the only church in Nigeria that has gay-lesbian issues on its agenda."

He asked the Episcopal Church to petition the Nigerian government to oppose the bill and to consult with the Archbishop of Canterbury about speaking against the bill. He also described his group's desire to hold a large meeting of GLBT people in Nigeria after Easter 2008 so that international pressure can be brought to bear on the Nigerian government.

"Our hope is in the Episcopal Church," said Mac-Iyalla, who also described a series of death threats that forced him to flee Nigeria. "If you don't speak out for us, we don't know where we will take our voice."


Marie said...

I guess THIS is why we try to remain in communion. What a hero!

The Pilgrim said...

And what would Mr. Mac-Iyalla's sentence be under Sharia,if he were taken to the Islamic Nigerian courts under the charge of being an homosexual?

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Oh, I see, Pilgrim. "the Islamic folk" hate more than "the Christian folk" so that makes it okay?

Hate is still hate.

The Pilgrim said...

No, that does NOT make it okay. But with a bare majority of the congress being centrist and the major Islaminc party, the ANPP gaining territory, maybe it was the best compromise the progressives could get right now.

Well over 25% of the Nigerian house and senate is convinced that homosexuality is a capital offense, and in half the country it is! I think that going after the people who want to moderate that death sentence to a five year prison term is to be focussing on the wrong target.

Instead of going after Bishop Akinola, who helped broker this bill, why don't you go after the Muslims in Nigeria who are still killing gays for the perceived offense of being who they are? Sounds like a more fruitful endeavor to me.