Bishops condemn Nigerian laws on homosexuals’ human rights

Published June 1, 2006

Niagara Falls, Ont.
Canada’s bishops unanimously endorsed a motion expressing “grave concern” about proposed legislation in Nigeria that “would prohibit or severely restrict the freedom of speech, association, expression and assembly of gay and lesbian persons.” Their motion also criticized the (Anglican) Church of Nigeria for its support of the legislation.The legislation is inconsistent with the United Nations’ International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the bishops said in their motion, which was passed at their spring meeting held April 23-27. They said they were “especially grieved” by the support for the legislation given by the Church of Nigeria, noting that the 1998 Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops called upon churches to “listen to the experience of homosexual persons.”The proposed laws, said the bishops, “criminalize civil and religious same-sex marriage as well as the public and private expression of same-sex affection, all public affiliation between gay persons and even publicity, public support and media reporting of the same.” The proposals “would make the very act of listening to homosexual persons impossible.”In unusually strong language, the bishops said they “disassociate” themselves from the actions of the Church of Nigeria and called upon Anglicans around the world to listen to and respect the human rights of gay people.Meanwhile, Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon of the province of Kaduna, Nigeria, reacting to the motion, accused the Canadian bishops of practising a “double standard.” The archbishop, who was in Toronto May 9 to 10 as a speaker at Wycliffe College’s Refresh Continuing Education Conference, told the Anglican Journal in an interview that he “wasn’t happy” to learn about the motion. Emphasizing that his was not the official reaction of the Church of Nigeria, Archbishop Fearon said Nigeria was saying, “we do not want in our country (for) gays and lesbians to be married. It’s what the nation wants; I think the Anglican Church of Canada expects the church to go against the nation. However, when the Anglican Church of Canada and its house moved a motion to bless same-sex (unions), we ask the same question and they say, ‘well, that’s what the nation wants. It’s what our people want; it’s part of our culture.”He added that the Nigerian legislation was meant to “forestall the imposition of what is now going on in the West … It’s a case of warning the people, it’s not part of our culture, just as you are saying here, it’s part of our culture.”


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