To: The Clerk, House Committee on Human Rights, Nigeria.
11th March 2009.
Statement of House Of Rainbow Metropolitan Community Church Nigeria
Dear Honourables, Chairperson, House of Representative, Committee on Human Rights, Interested Members of the public, All stakeholders, Ladies and Gentlemen of the media.
The statement of concern from the entire members of House Of Rainbow Metropolitan Community Church Nigeria, the Pastor, leaders and board of trustees, with regards to a Bill for an Act to prohibit marriage between persons of the same gender, solemnisation of same and other matters related therewith 2008.We express our deep concern and trepidation on the matters before you today as a matter of conscience and denial of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, and Transgender (LGBT) people in our nation.
The Same Gender Marriage (Prohibition) Bill 2008, which was introduced by the Nigerian National Assembly on 15th of January, 2009, will have an extreme impact on the work and services we provide to include sexual minorities in our communities.We are aware of the Nigeria constitution “Penal Code” which makes Homosexuality illegal under federal law, however, because of widespread taboos against homosexuality, very few persons were openly homosexual and have often been ostracised, rejected and victimised by religious communities, workplace discrimination on these grounds and the society at large.
Violence against LGBT people is frequent in Nigeria. Since May 2008, several national newspapers published articles criticizing our organization, many of the articles included names, addresses, and photographs of members of the congregation and the pastor. Police harassment and threats forced the church to shut down and the pastor to retreat for safety. Some members of the congregation lost their jobs and were evicted from their homes and had to go into hiding, and several of them continue to be under threat of physical harm and harassment on the ground of their sexual orientation.This legislation would allow the state to invade people’s homes and bedrooms and investigate their private lives, and it would criminalize the work of human rights defenders, and other service providers.
“On September 12, local newspapers Nation, Vanguard, PM News and the Sunday Sun published photos, names, and addresses of members of the House of Rainbow Metropolitan Community Church, a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered-friendly church in Lagos. Following publication, persons started harassing the 12 members. One woman was attacked by 11 men, while others were threatened, stoned, and beaten. No investigation was initiated by year's end. This was emphasized by the US Secretary of State Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in the 2008 Human Rights Report”.
We believe that the Same Gender Marriage (Prohibition) 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, blackmail, injustice, severe abuse and extortion with no recourse to justice.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, many Nigerians now questions the nation’s commitment to a democratic state for all constituents, including those considered sexual minority.
The proposed bill, if approved, would seriously restrict essential freedoms as well as the activities of human rights defenders, members of civil society and our inclusive religious community. The United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders holds, in its article 5, that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels: a) to meet or assemble peacefully; b) to form, join and participate in non-governmental organizations, associations or groups.” Article7 of the declaration affirms that “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to develop and discuss new human rights ideas and principles and to advocate their acceptance.”
House Of Rainbow Nigeria is a non government organisation of the Universal Fellowship of the Metropolitan Community Church, with a ministry for Global Justice , we believe that all people are created equal and attest to the diverse unimaginable creation of the almighty God, regardless of race, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and so on.
We promote a God given sexuality against the background of societal hatred and self destructive behaviours.Our work begins where other religious communities end to bring sexual minorities to a safe place of worship, these has been and will continue to be compromised by this bill, which seeks to criminalise any association and or assembly of same gender loving people.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 CommissionTo 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 LGBT individuals and human rights defenders in Nigeria are not violated, and to openly denounce and condemn the continuous hounding of the LGBT community, its friends and families, and human rights defenders.• The Nigerian Police and Central Intelligence Department (CID) to protect LGBT individuals from all forms of violence and abuse.• The media to uphold the ethics and tenets of responsible media practice.We have faith in the democratic legislative process and it is with this hope that we believe that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Nigerians will begin to be valued within civil society and be 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 grievance, inequality, prejudice, unfairness, injustice, societal and religious homophobia and the possible enactment of this legislation.
Signed House Of Rainbow Metropolitan Community Church Nigeria.