December 10th, 2011
Archbishop Peter Akinola, retired Anglican Primate of the Church of Nigeria, has enthusiastically endorsed Nigeria’s anti-gay bill which would impose criminal penalties on same-sex unions and LGBT gatherings. Akinola told Nigeria’s Guardian that the Nigerian government should reject warnings from Britain and the United States that efforts to deny basic human rights to LGBT people would have international implications:
Since its passage by the Senate, Nigeria has received strong criticisms and warnings from the British, Canadian and the United States of America governments, which have individually threatened to withdraw aids and other forms of assistance to Nigeria, if the law is allowed to exist.
But Akinola, in an exclusive interview with The Guardian, urged President Jonathan not to succumb to such pressure, but rather tow the path of God by assenting to the bill.
Akinola, who described the bill as “a new orientation towards transformation and reformation of Nigeria from its moral decadence into a new platform of sound morality,” said President Jonathan would be going against God’s will for Nigeria if he refused to sign the controversial bill into law.
He stated that Nigeria needs such law to preserve the nation’s sacred moral heritage for national development.
Akinola has been the most visible leader of a worldwide revolt of conservative Anglicans against the elevation of the openly gay Rev. Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire. Akinola has actively courted dissident American Episcopal Churches to leave the Episcopal Church in America and organize themselves under his leadership In 2007, Akinola traveled to Virginia to install Martyn Minns as bishop of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), an organization that Akinola established with conservative American Episcopalians. In doing so, he defied Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, leader of the U.S. Episcopal Church.
The bill which Akinola endorses so enthusiastically would penalize anyone entering into a same-sex marriage or any other arrangement “for other purposes of same sexual relationship” with imprisonment for fourteen years. It also provides for ten years imprisonment for anyone showing displays of affection “directly or indirectly,” an incredibly vague and ambiguous phrase which could be interpreted in any number of unpredictable ways. In addition, anyone who “supports the registration, operation and sustenance of gay clubs, societies, organisations, processions or meetings in Nigeria” will be subjected to a ten year term. By outlawing even ad hoc meetings in which topics concerning gay people are discussed, Nigeria proposes to obliterate the rights of free assembly and speech for all Nigerians and visitors, including health care workers and organizations. It would even effectively ban coordination of monitoring human rights violations from within Nigeria. The bill passed the Nigerian Senate in late November and has reportedly been introduced in the House of Representatives, where one lawmaker threatened to increase the penalties further.
Unsurprisingly, so-called “ex-gay” theories have also entered the debate in Nigeria. The Guardian quotes from Felix Jovi Ehwarieme, who is described as an adjunct professor of scientific theology and Biblical history at the United Bible University in Lagos. Ehwarieme has a rather odd theory about homosexuality, tracing it to “excessive masturbation”:
“An average male child has masturbated at one stage of his life or the other. If this behaviour were not controlled, it would lead to lack of interest in the opposite sex. This often happens in the subconscious mind, so that by the time one grows into it, one would not know why one hates the opposite sex. This is because when one masturbates, one may have practiced it with other male children,” he argued.
“So, by the time they are qualified to have sexual relations, they just discover that they have something that satisfies them more than natural sex.”
According to Ehwarieme, there is a role played by hormones in masturbation. “One cannot just masturbate without thinking of the opposite sex. When you masturbate, you have a picture in mind of someone you like, a woman, definitely,” he said.
“By the time you masturbate and ejaculate, you end it that way. After a period, if the woman you have in mind is given to you and you find that you do not enjoy her, you would still want to go back to masturbation, because something else has replaced original process.”
“The problem with homosexuals is that they do not know how they become what they are,” he surmised.
Statements from an Islamic professor, Dr. Ishaq Akintola, demonstrates that nothing can united Christians and Muslims in that deeply divided country more than their shared hatred for gay people. Akintola told the Guardian:
“We urge President Goodluck Jonathan to quickly sign the Bill into law once it is passed by the House of Representatives before these Western countries drag Nigeria down with them. He must not succumb to the intimidation of neo-imperialists.”
“We assure the President that Nigerians are united on this matter. We are solidly behind him and the National Assembly,” Akinola added. “There have always been hidden agenda in foreign aid. Once colonialist, always a colonialist!”
The Guardian also quotes from a Catholic chaplain and a Lagos criminology professor supporting the bill. Only at the very end of the article is there a paragraph devoted to criticism of the bill.
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Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"
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