Thursday, December 21, 2006

Fun Facts to Know and Tell About Archbishop Akinola

From Holy Homophobia in The Nation:

The Washington Post noted Akinola's support for legislation in Nigeria that would make it a crime for gays and lesbians to dine together in restaurants and identified him as "an advocate for jailing gays." In a subsequent op-ed, Harold Meyerson dubbed the breakaway faction "Episcopalians Against Equality," and linked them to other orthodox fundamentalists of Catholic and Jewish persuasions who've made anti-gay politics a focal point of their scriptural literalism.

Akinola's supporters quickly denied these allegations. In a post on the website of Truro Church (Fairfax, Virginia), Marytn Minns, a leader of the schism and a friend of Akinola's since their days at the Virginia Theological Seminary in the early '80s, said "That is not true. Archbishop Akinola believes that all people -- whatever their manner of life or sexual orientation -- are made in the image of God and deserve to be treated with respect." Subsequently, the Post and other outlets repeated Minns' claim, cryptically writing, "His advocates say he is trying to navigate an explosive cultural situation in Nigeria and appease Muslim leaders."

While it's certainly true that parts of northern Nigeria submit to Sharia law, under which homosexual sex is punishable by death by stoning, holding Muslim leaders solely responsible for the bill doesn't quite wash with an examination of Akinola's published declarations. The legislation under question is known as the "Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act." Under the guise of banning gay marriage, the bill would prohibit almost any association of gays and lesbians, restrict their freedom of speech and movement. Section 7 prohibits any "publicity, procession and public show of same sex amorous relationships through the electronic or print media" (for example, a screening of Brokeback Mountain). It would also imprison for five years anyone "involved in the registration of gay clubs, societies and organizations, sustenance, procession or meetings, publicity and public showing of same sex amorous relationships directly or indirectly in public and in private" (for example, any lesbians or gays meeting in a restaurant or even in their own homes).

This bill was introduced by Nigeria's Minister of Justice, Bayo Ojo, on January 19, 2006. In a "message to the nation" issued in February, Akinola endorsed the legislation saying, "The Church commends the law-makers for their prompt reaction to outlaw same-sex relationships in Nigeria and calls for the bill to be passed since the idea expressed in the bill is the moral position of Nigerians regarding human sexuality." In another declaration made in September, Akinola said, "The Church affirms our commitment to the total rejection of the evil of homosexuality which is a perversion of human dignity and encourages the National Assembly to ratify the Bill prohibiting the legality of homosexuality since it is incongruent with the teachings of the Bible, Quran and the basic African traditional values."

Given these statements, the attempts by Akinola's supporters to distance themselves (and him) from his previous support of this draconian legislation ring false. Is this crusade what the parishioners of Truro Church and Falls Church in Virginia, who according to World magazine include "leaders of government agencies, members of Congress, Washington journalists, and think-tank presidents," meant to endorse by siding with Akinola?



Dear pilgrim,

Actually, no ... I don't have copy here ... my desk is piled with Christmas liturgies and prayer lists for Sunday.

More germaine to the "dining while gay" reference than the Washington Post linke are the conclusions Laurie Goodstein drew in her December 17th NYT piece posted elsewhere on this blog.

Here's the quote from Laurie's article, "In Virginia, the two large churches are voting on whether they want to report to the powerful archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola, an outspoken opponent of homosexuality who supports legislation in his country that would make it illegal for gay men and lesbians to form organizations, read gay literature or eat together in a restaurant."

I'm sure she would be happy to indicate which part of the legislation she was referring to if you just dropped her an email.

Closed said...

Here is an overview of the bill; I've highlighted the pertinent section. I recommend this post from Matt's Political Spaghetti. In fact, I recommend the entire blog for continually following this saga as Matt is an outside observer of things Anglican.

Sections 1 and 2 - Definitions

Section 3
Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid and recognized in Nigeria.

Section 4
Same-sex marriage and adoption are prohibited.
Foreign same-sex marriages are void in Nigeria.
Same-sex marriages are not entitled to the benefits of valid marriages.
Contractural rights between same-sex married couples by virtue of those marriages are void in a court of law.
Nigerian courts will have no jurisdiction over such divorce, separation, and maintenance orders with respect to same-sex marriages.

Section 5
Again, same-sex marriages from outside Nigeria are not recognized within Nigeria.
No arm of the government, in its official capacity, will recognize same-sex marriages.

Section 6
The celebration of same-sex marriages is prohibited in any place of worship.
No marriage license can be issued to partners in a same-sex marriage.

Section 7
Registration of gay organizations by the Nigerian government is prohibited.
"Publicity, procession and public show of same sex amorous relationship" in the media is prohibited.
Gay organizations are prohibited, as is "procession or meetings, publicity and public show of same sex amorous relationship directly or indirectly in public and in private". Violators are subject to 5 years' imprisonment.

Section 8
Any participant in same-sex marriage is subject to a penalty of 5 years' imprisonment.
Any person who performs, witnesses, aids or abets a same-sex marriage is subject to the same penalty.

W said...

Dear Bills,

1) Your argument is confusing to me. You point out correctly that HIV/AIDS is an epidemic in Africa. You then point out that in the US, AIDS occurs "mostly" among men having sex with men (MSM) and intravenous drug users. You then say that considering this, Nigeria's response to homosexuality is justifiable. there is a logical disconnect between points 2 and 3.

1a) If AIDS in Africa occurs mainly among straight people (it does, as your post implies), then the solution is mainly about advocating better sexual behavior among straight people: some combination of abstain, be faithful, and use condoms.

2) The Nigerian legislation seems to be a response primarily to a perceived moral threat, that of LGBT people advocating for equality. It does not seem to be aimed primarily at combating the spread of AIDS.

3) Even if AIDS in Nigeria occurs mainly among the MSM population, it is not justifiable to imprison people for 5 years just for speaking up on behalf of the LGBT community, or for dining while gay, or for the "public show[ing]" of a "same-sex amorous relationship". It is a major violation of human rights - even the US State Department has condemned the proposed legislation.

3a) If AIDS in Africa occurs mainly among the MSM population, the solution I would propose is: teach people safe sexual behavior, like some combination of abstain, be faithful, and use a condom.

4) In the US in 2001, about 28% of HIV exposure cases occurred in heterosexual couples.

Bottom line is, I'm not sure where you're going with "Most of us living fairly normal, drug free, heterosexual lives are not usually affected." Straight people need to be worried about AIDS and other STDs.

5) when I say "abstain, be faithful, and use a condom," I don't mean that LGBT people or anyone else should necessarily adopt lifestyles of abstinence. I mean that just because everyone else is having sex doesn't mean you need to or should.