IHEU’s International Representative in West Africa has roundly condemned the latest homophobic outburst from the country’s Anglican Archbishop. Archbishop Peter Akinola, the champion of Anglican conservatives worldwide, wants all witnesses to gay weddings to be sentenced to a year in jail.
In a position paper submitted by the church to a Nigerian parliamentary committee which is planning a law against gay marriage, the Archbishop says: “Same sex marriage, apart from being ungodly, is unscriptural, unnatural, unprofitable, unhealthy, un-cultural, un-African and un-Nigerian. It is a perversion, a deviation and an aberration that is capable of engendering moral and social holocaust in this country. It is also capable of existincting [sic] mankind and as such should never be allowed to take root in Nigeria. Outlawing it is to ensure the continued existence of this nation. The need for doing this is urgent, compelling, and imperative.”
His statement also suggests that the penalties in the law be changed around, so that the happy couple be sentenced to up five years in jail, and individual witnesses to up to three years. If witnesses were to be charged collectively, the archbishop suggests, there should be a mandatory sentence for all of them of one year in jail.
Leo Igwe, Executive Director of the Nigerian Humanist movement, which has staunchly supported LGBT rights, roundly condemned Akinola’s statements saying: “If ever a law were an incitement to hate, this is it, and here is Archbishop Akinola giving it his full backing. His support for this oppressive and homophobic bill must be strongly condemned. It is appalling that Akinola has used his influential position to wage war against the human rights of gays and lesbians and to spread the message of hate and intolerance in the Anglican Communion. He has expressly endorsed the persecution and dehumanisation of sexual minorities. He is attempting to foist on the Anglican Communion a backward looking position on sexuality and marriage reminiscent of the Dark Ages. One day the Anglican Communion will look back on the era of Akinola with pain and great regret.”
The UK gay Humanist charity the Pink Triangle Trust has warmly welcomed Leo Igwe’s courageous public support for LGBT rights in Nigeria and its secretary George Broadhead commented: “Archbishop Rowan Williams’s chances of holding the Anglican Communion together seems extremely remote when, after nearly four years of discussion, Akinola still comes out with this kind of hate speech.”