Nigerian activist tells his story
Mac-Iyalla told the joint INC_NAC that Anglican Church of Nigeria Archbishop and Primate Peter Akinola has been directly involved in Mac-Iyalla called a "deadly bill" pending before the Nigerian legislature that would make homosexuality punishable by five years in prison and would criminalize any association with gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. The bill, he said, "would make us outcasts in our own country."
Mac-Iyalla said Akinola has gone to legislators and government leaders, including Anglicans, and pressured them to write the bill as a way to prevent his organization from gaining any more strength. Changing Attitudes Nigeria has about 2,500 gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender members, according to Mac-Iyalla. He also suggested that Akinola worked for the bill so that the Listening Process called for by the Windsor Report would be stymied by the government's laws.
It is a lie, he said, for Akinola and others to claim that there are no homosexual people in Nigeria, explaining that many languages spoken in Nigeria had words to describe people in same-gender relationships long before white missionaries came to Africa. Such terms, he said, indicate that Africans have always acknowledged people who are attracted to members of their gender.
"It is wrong to say that homosexuality is a Western, imported culture," Mac-Iyalla said.
Saying that most Nigerians are more worried about eating than they are about homosexuality, Mac-Iyalla said, "the Anglican Church is the only church in Nigeria that has gay-lesbian issues on its agenda."
He asked the Episcopal Church to petition the Nigerian government to oppose the bill and to consult with the Archbishop of Canterbury about speaking against the bill. He also described his group's desire to hold a large meeting of GLBT people in Nigeria after Easter 2008 so that international pressure can be brought to bear on the Nigerian government.
"Our hope is in the Episcopal Church," said Mac-Iyalla, who also described a series of death threats that forced him to flee Nigeria. "If you don't speak out for us, we don't know where we will take our voice."
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