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Thursday, 22 January 2009

Nigeria: Enough Hatred in the Name of God!




Nigeria: Enough Hatred in the Name of God!
Metropolitan Community Churches Urge Overturn of Same Gender Prohibition Bill


“Enough hatred and oppression in the name of God! Enough laws to prohibit love and commitment! Enough demonising lesbian and gay people who seek to live whole and holy lives! Prohibition of commitment and stability in gay and lesbian relationships will only undermine the stability and democracy of Nigeria and the credibility of religion.”
- Bishop Glenna Shepherd


21 January 2009, Cape Town- Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) in Africa urge Nigerian President Musa Yar’dua to reject “The Same Gender Prohibition Bill 2008” passed in the Lower House of Parliament on Thursday, 15 January 2009.



We believe this bill will disastrously endorse a climate of homophobia and escalating hate crime against gay and lesbian Nigerian citizens, making them among the most vulnerable in the world to human rights violations, rape, severe abuse and extortion with no recourse to justice.



“Lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) citizens of Nigeria, both at home and abroad live in fear each day. The idea of the Same Gender Prohibition Bill 2008 is ridiculous, especially in a democratic nation. This is not just based on religious dogma and cultural ignorance, it is based on the vilification and dehumanisation of respectful people. Nigerian LGBT people are rightful citizens and deserve protection from all forms of criminality,” reports the Reverend Rowland Jide Macaulay, Pastor of House Of Rainbow Metropolitan Community Church in Lagos.


We do not believe that the voices of House Members who spoke for the bill with religious conviction represent the breadth of understanding on issues of sexuality and family existing within Christianity, Islam and other faiths extant in Nigeria.



“Much discrimination exists and is promoted because of misunderstanding of the scriptures. Often these distortions and the passions generated by them are passed along by well-meaning people of deep faith. Such is the case in the recent citation of 'God's design' in the Nigerian prohibition against same-gender unions. I call on Nigerian legislators who care about the message of Jesus to open hearts and minds and examine that message again; you won't find license to discriminate against lesbian and gay people there,” writes Bishop Glenna Shepherd, MCC Elder serving Africa and Western Europe.



Equal human rights and freedom from persecution are not only humanist and democratic values, they are necessary conditions for the human spirit to thrive. When either is absent, a society foments the conditions for untold suffering among its own people, questioning its commitment to a democratic state for all constituents, including those in the minority.



Sharon Cox, MCC in Africa Development Worker, commenting on the bill says,“Every person is created in the image of God and is loved by their Creator irrespective of their sexual orientation. Same Sex Marriage is not and should not be a religious debate in parliament, it is a question of equality and human rights.”



We respectfully call on:
+ The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
+ The National House of Assembly (especially the Committees on Human Rights, and the Committee on Judiciary)
+ The Ministry of Justice
+ The Joint Committee on Human Rights, Justice and Women Affairs.
+ And The National Human Rights Commission,
to reverse this harmful legislation and begin reparation by de-criminalising same gender relationships, offering equal protections to Nigerian lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens.



We also call on:
+ The President of Nigeria to ensure that the human rights of LGBTI individuals and human rights defenders in Nigeria are not violated, and to openly denounce and condemn the continuous hounding of the LGBTI community, its friends and families, and human rights defenders.
+ The Nigerian Police and Central Intelligence Department (CID) to protect LGBTI individuals from all forms of violence and abuse.
+ The media to uphold the ethics and tenets of responsible media practice.
With such swift action, we have faith that LGBTI Nigerians will begin to be valued within civil society and allowed to positively contribute to the future of this democracy. We offer our statement in solidarity with all who have been marginalized, praying for a genuine change of heart in this matter to alleviate the suffering caused by prejudice and the enactment of unjust legislation.



-An Open Statement from the Clergy and Congregations of Metropolitan Community Churches in Africa (Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and Zimbabwe).



Contacts:
The Reverend Elder Glenna Shepherd, Region 4 MCC Bishop Serving Africa and Western Europe
revglennashepherd@mccchurch.net

Sharon Cox, MCC in Africa Development Worker
sharon@goodhopemcc.org

The Reverend Rowland Jide Macaulay, Pastor, House of Rainbow MCC, Lagos, Nigeria
revjide@yahoo.com

The Reverend Pressley Sutherland, Pastor, Good Hope MCC, Cape Town, South Africa
pressley@goodhopemcc.org

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