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Posts for November, 2011

Nigerian Senate Passes Anti-Gay Bill After Increasing Penalties

Jim Burroway

November 29th, 2011

The Associated Press is reporting that the Nigerian Senate yesterday passed a bill to criminalize same-sex weddings after first increasing the penalties from the earlier draft. According to the AP:

Under the measure, couples who marry could face up to 14 years in jail, and witnesses or anyone who helps couples marry could be sentenced to 10 years behind bars. That’s an increase over the bill’s initial penalties.

The original draft provided a three year prison term for entering into a same-sex marriage. The penalty for witnessing/aiding/abetting a marriage was originally to be five years imprisonment or a fine of ₦2,000 (2,000 naria, or US$13 in a country where the average annual income is US$1,200.) If a group of persons witnessed/aided/abetted a marriage, the fine would have been ₦50,000. It was unclear under the original draft whether two people at a wedding would be considered two individuals or a group. An updated copy of the bill has not been posted on the Nigerian Senate’s web site. A companion bill has not yet been posted to the House of Representatives web site.

Oil-rich Nigeria is much less dependent on foreign assistance, giving western nations much less leverage in attempts to improve Nigeria’s human rights situation.

Homosexuality is already criminalized in Nigeria, with a penalty of fourteen years’ imprisonment upon conviction. In the half of the country where Sharia Law is in effect, the penalty is death.

Nigeria Moves Closer To Criminalizing LGBT Relationships

Jim Burroway

November 23rd, 2011

The Associated Press reports that Nigeria’s proposal to criminalize what they define as “marriages between persons of the same gender” has moved one step closer to becoming law. (We have the full text of the proposed bill as it was first introduced here.) The AP reports:

The anti-gay marriage legislation, which is being considered for the third time since 2006, already has sailed through two readings in Senate. A public hearing meant to gauge public opinion on the bill saw gay rights activists booed and provided with police escorts to leave the hall after presenting their arguments against the proposed measure.

“I am so confident because Nigeria is a society that is very, very godly,” said Sen. Domingo Obende, who sponsored the bill.

The bill would define same-sex marriage as follows:

“Same Gender Marriage” means the coming together of persons of the same sex with the purpose of leaving together as husband and wife or for other purposes of same sexual relationship.

The “other purposes” clause could effectively criminalize any sexual relationship of any duration, from a casual fifteen minute tryst to a lifetime commitment. The penalty would be three years imprisonment. The penalties are harsher for those who would solemnize a relationship. Anyone who “witnesses, abet and aids the solemnization of a same gender marriage contract” would be liable for up to five years imprisonment.

Homosexuality is already criminalized in Nigeria, with a penalty of fourteen years’ imprisonment upon conviction. In areas where Sharia Law are in effect, the penalty is death.

Here It Is: Nigeria’s Proposal To Criminalize Same-Sex Marriage:

Jim Burroway

September 29th, 2011

Nigeria's SB 05, a bill which would criminalize same-sex marriage. (Click to download PDF: 48KB/2 pages)

A BTB reader found a copy of Nigeria’s latest proposal to not just ban same-sex marriage (it’s already illegal in Nigeria), but to impose criminal penalties on anyone who enters into a same-sex marriage — as well as for anyone who “witnesses, abets and aids the solemnization of a same gender marriage contract.” The penalty for entering into a same-sex marriage under the proposed measure would be three years’ imprisonment. The penalty for witnessing/aiding/abeting a marriage would bring five years imprisonment or a fine of ₦2,000 (2,000 naria, or US$13 in a country where the average annual income is US$1,200). If a group of persons witness/aid/abet a marriage, the fine is ₦50,000. It’s unclear whether two people at a wedding would be considered two individuals or a group. The bill also does not define what constitutes witnessing, abetting or aiding in the solemnization of a marriage.

This bill is a considerably scaled down from an earlier bill that was being considered as late as 2009. The earlier proposal, which was actually introduced in 2006, included the same penalties that this bill provides for entering into a marriage or for witnessing/aiding/abeting a marriage. But the 2006 bill went much further by prohibiting the formation of any gay clubs, societies or advocacy groups, and anyone working in organizations which advocate for gay rights would have been subject to five years imprisonment. The same penalty also applied for anyone who was involved with the “publicity and public show of same sex amorous relationship directly or indirectly in public and in private.” Following international condemnation from international human rights advocates, Nigeria’s National Assembly quietly allowed the bill to lapse upon the change of government earlier this year.

Homosexuality is already criminalized in Nigeria, with a penalty of fourteen years’ imprisonment upon conviction. In areas where Sharia Law are in effect, the penalty is death.

The newest bill was posted at the official web site of the Nigerian Senate and is available here (PDF: 48KB/2 pages) It is dated July 25, 2011, nearly two weeks after the bill reportedly received its first reading in the Senate.  The original 2006 proposal is available here (PDF: 144KB/3 pages).

Here is the full text of the 2011 bill:

[SB 05]

A BILL

FOR

An Act To Prohibit Marriage Between Persons Of Same Gender, Solemnization Of Same And For Other Matters Related Therewith

Sponsors:

Senator Domingo Obende
Senator Ehigie Edobor Uzamere
Senator Adegbenga Seflu Kaka
Senator Borrofice Robert A.
Senator Pius Ewherido
Senator Yusuf Musa Nagogo
Senator Mohammed Magoro
Senator Emmanuel Paulker
Senator George Sekibo
Senator Eyinnaya Abarbe
Senator Nenadi E. Usman
Senator Helen Esuene
Senator Babafemi Oiudu
Senator Owremi Tinubu
Senator Owgbenga Ashafa
Senator Obadara Owgbenga
Senator Joshua Dariye
Senator Saleh Mohammed Sani
Senator Hope Uzodinma
Senator Ayogu Eze
Senator Smart Adeyemi
Senator Ahmad Lawan
Senator Igwe Paulinus Nwagu
Senator Mohammed D. Goje
Senator Barnabas Gemade
Senator Boluwaji Kunlere

BE IT ENACTED by the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as follows:

1.–(1) Marriage Contract entered between persons of same Gender is hereby prohibited in Nigeria.

(2) Marriages Contract entered between persons of same gender are invalid and shall not be recognized as entitled to the benefits of a valid marriage.

(3) Marriage Contract entered between persons of same gender by virtue a certificate issued by a foreign country shall be void in Nigeria, and any benefits accruing there from by virtue of the certificate shall not be enforced by any court of law in Nigeria.

2.–(1) Marriage entered between persons of same Gender shall not be solemnized in any place of worship either Church or Mosque in Nigeria.

(2) No marriage certificate issued to parties of same sex marriage in Nigeria.

3. Only marriage contracted between a man and a woman either under Islamic Law, Customary Law and Marriage Act is recognized as valid in Nigeria.

4.–(1) Persons that entered into a same gender marriage contract commit an offence and are jointly liable on conviction to a term of 3 years imprisonment each.

(2) Any persons or group of persons that witnesses, abet and aids the solemnization of a same gender marriage contract commits an offence and liable on conviction to —

(a) if an individual to a term of 5 years imprisonment or a group of persons to a fine of ₦2,000 or both,

(b) if a group of persons to a fine of ₦50,000 only.

5. The High Court of a State shall have jurisdiction to entertain matter arising from the breach of the provisions of this Bill.

6. In this Bill, unless the context otherwise requires–

“Marriage” here relates to a legal union entered between persons of opposite sex in accordance with the Marriage Act, Islamic and Customary Laws.

“High Court” to include High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

“Same Gender Marriage” means the coming together of persons of the same sex with the purpose of leaving together as husband and wife or for other purposes of same sexual relationship.

7. This Bill may be cited as Same Gender Marriage (Prohibition) Bill, 2011.

Explanatory Note:

This Bill seeks to prohibit marriage between persons of same gender, and witnessing same, and provided appropriate solemnization of the marriage penalties thereof.

Nigeria Make Another Stab At Additional Prison Penalties for Same-Sex Marriage

Jim Burroway

September 28th, 2011

The West African country whose over-reaching attempt in 2009 to impose severe penalties on human rights advocacy and free association for its LGBT citizens under the guise of “banning” same sex marriage was met with international alarm from human rights activists, is at it again. The Nigerian Senate debated a bill yesterday which would make entering into a same-sex marriage a criminal offense, with three years’ imprisonment for couples convicted of being married, and five years’ imprisonment for anyone who “witnesses, abets and aides” the solemnization of the marriage. Homosexuality is already a criminal offense in Nigeria, where it carries a penalty of fourteen years imprisonment in the south and capital punishment in areas in the north which are under Sharia Islamic Law. Nigeria’s The Daily Times reports that the bill passed it first reading on July 13, and that no Senators rose to oppose the bill during Tuesday’s debate.

It is unknown at this time what the exact provisions under the new law would be. The proposed 2009 law which ostensibly banned same-sex marriage went much further than simply addressing same sex marriage. The 2009 proposal, like its current incarnation, provided for a prison sentence of three years for anyone who has “entered into a same gender marriage contract,” and it also would have defined same-sex marriage as any gay couples found living together. Also like the new proposal, it also provided for five years’ imprisonment or a fine for anyone who “witnesses, abet and aids the solemnization” of a same-sex marriage. But the 2009 law also went much further, by making criminals of anyone working in organizations which advocate for gay rights. LGBT advocates point pointed out that the proposed bill law would punish those who “aids and abets” people to live together with a tougher sentence than the couple concerned.

It is unknown at this time what, if any, additional provisions are included in the current proposal. Spokesperson for the Nigerian Senate expect the bill to pass by the end of next year. The United States State Department have joined international human rights groups in strongly condemning the bill, pointing out that it would the freedoms of expression, association and assembly guaranteed by international law as well as by the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The law would also impose an impediment to the struggle against the spread of AIDS in the oil-producing west African nation.

Nigerian Asylum Seeker in UK Threatened With “Jungle Justice”

Jim Burroway

April 14th, 2011

Published threat against Uche Nnabuife (Scan courtesy of Paul Canning. Click to enlarge.)

Paul Canning reports that a Nigerian newspaper has published a death threat against Uche Nnabuife, a gay Nigerian who is seeking asylum in the United Kingdom. British immigration authorities say they will deport Nnabuife on April 20.

National Times,a nationally circulated newspaper in Nigeria, printed an article warning Nnabuife that if he returned to Nigeria, he would be subjected to “jungle justice” and “his body would not be found”:

According to a reliable source, one Uche Nnabuife, a gay Nigerian has been warned not to come back to Nigeria or his body would not be found.

Nnabuife who is currently in Europe has been warned by a friend, Nnamdi Okafor who had revealed to him about a movement against the return of gay Nigerians headed by one Toyin Adelaja. The movement it is gathered believes that “Africans are not gay people but these Nigerian gays are only trying to imitate the white man’s culture and should stay there in their land”. The movement expressed disgust that “homosexuality is unafrican and any Nigerian found practising it or confirmed to have practised it within or outside Nigeria should expect jungle justice from the movement.”

Canning reports that  Nnabuife has also been threatened on the internet as well.  Rev Rowland Jide Macauley, a gay Nigerian priest who currently resides in London, told Canning, “‘Jungle Justice’ in Nigeria is a serious problem, people take the laws into their own hands and for the headline to read such, we truly have to give this all the possible worst interpretation.”

Nnabuife has been detained by British immigration authorities since November 2009. British authorities have maintained that Nnabuife’s claim of being gay are not credible, despite testimony from his ex-boyfriend and other close friends. Generally the Home Office has routinely rejected asylum claims which cite fears of persecution for sexual orientation. Canning believes that Nnabuife’s prior conviction of cannabis possession is playing a role in his pending deportation.

State Department Issues Annual Human Rights Report, Highlights Uganda

Jim Burroway

March 12th, 2010

The State Department has issued its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2009, which shows that LGBT people continue to experience state-sanctioned or permitted violence and discrimination. For example, the report notes the following cases of human rights violations against LGBT people in Uganda:

For example, on April 5, police in Mbale District arrested SMUG activists Fred Wasukira and Brian Mpadde. On April 17, a court in Mbale charged Wasukira and Mpadde with homosexual conduct and remanded the suspects to Maluke prison. On May 20, the court released Wasukira on police bail; Mpadde was released on June 16. The case was ongoing at year’s end.

On June 19, police in Kitgum interrogated former police coach Charles Ayeikoh over allegations that he was involved in homosexual acts. An investigation was ongoing at year’s end.

In July the administration of Mbalala Senior Secondary School in Mukono District dismissed student John Paul Mulumba after he acknowledged that he was a SMUG member.

During the year the UHRC stopped investigating the July 2008 case in which SMUG activist Usaam Mukwaya alleged that police tortured and humiliated him during an illegal detention; Mukwaya reportedly decided not to pursue the case.

During the year police dismissed for lack of evidence a September 2008 case against SMUG members George Oundo and Brenda Kiiza, who were charged with indecent practices.

LGBT persons were also subject to societal harassment and discrimination.

For example, on March 17, the Uganda Joint Christian Council and the Family Life Network launched a campaign to curb homosexual conduct in higher institutions. SMUG accused the organizers of using religion to attack the LGBT community in the country.

The report also mentions arrests, executions, and other violence and abuses in Malawi, Senegal, Nigeria, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Jamaica, and elsewhere around the world.

“Un-African” Homosexuality?

Jim Burroway

January 10th, 2010

Many of those behind Uganda’s proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill complain that homosexuality is a foreign import, despite the ironic fact that it was Europeans who imposed bans on homosexuality on their African colonies — and despite the huge impetus given the current drive to legislate LGBT people out of existence by three American anti-gay extremists. The idea of homosexuality being somehow “un-African” is widely believed, despite being ignorant nonesense. Douglas Foster, writing for the Los Angeles Times, provides proof of that from his visits to a Johannesburg, South Africa gay nightclub which served as a haven for Africa’s gay diaspora:

To get to Simply Blue’s curved bar and large dance floor, patrons had to climb a long flight of stairs and go through a security pat-down. You could always spot newcomers because they usually sat off to the side in the shadows, on broken-down couches, their eyes wide and jaws slack. Many of them literally had had the idea beaten into them that they were part of a cursed, despicable, tiny minority.

There was the middle-aged man from Zimbabwe, formerly married, whose brother had plotted to have him killed because of the shame he’d brought to his family when he’d switched to dating men. There was a young Nigerian who lingered on the sidelines for weeks before inching out onto the dance floor, but then moved in an explosion of long-suppressed joy at finding himself dancing in public across from another man. I met an older fellow, a soft-spoken farmer from Uganda who’d raised his children before leaving his home, his wife and his country. He’d finally decided he couldn’t live to the end of his life without having the chance to express his truest self.

[Hat tip: BTB reader Regan DuCasse]

Click here to see BTB’s complete coverage of the past year’s anti-gay developments in Uganda.

Newsweek: Is Uganda’s Anti-Gay Ferver Spreading?

Jim Burroway

December 18th, 2009

[Update: This post has been updated to include a brief statement MP David Bahati made to NPR.]

Katie Paul pulls the microscope off of Uganda and looks at the climate for LGBT citizens throughout Africa. It doesn’t look good. Much of the continent is rife with homophobia. Last year, Burundi criminalized homosexuality for the first time, with penalties of up to two years in prison. In Senegal, we’ve seen people arrested for homosexuality (many of them LGBT advocates). The president of Gambia threatened to cut off the heads of all gay people in his country. And Nigeria has its own draconian bill languishing in its legislature that ostensibly outlaws same sex marriage, but goes much further by banning any gay people from living together and all advocacy on behalf of LGBT people. Meanwhile, Rwanda, which lies on Uganda’s southwest border, is currently debating a bill to criminalize homosexuality with five to ten year’s imprisonment, along with all advocacy and counseling of LGBT people. The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission says that a vote may occur in Rwanda’s lower House sometime this week.

But despite all that, some have suggested that if the Anti-Homosexuality Bill becomes law, Uganda will represent the first domino to fall. One of those suggesting this is none other than Ugandan MP David Bahati, the prime sponsor of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. He told NPR:

“Once this bill passes, you’re going to see country by country learning from this, continent by continent. It’s a crucial time and a crucial bill, not only in Uganda but in the world.”

But as Paul points out, pointing to Uganda as the first domino as some have done is, as she puts it, “a tough sell”:

While the historical origins of anti-gay legislation are debatable, antipathy to homosexuality is by now a home-grown phenomenon throughout most of Africa. ABC’s Dana Hughes, writing from Nairobi, points out that such opinions on homosexuality are already widespread on the continet. “While American evangelicals are being examined for their role in the origins of the bill in Uganda,” she writes, “East Africa, and for that matter Africa as a whole, is decidedly, virulently against homosexuality.” In total, 37 countries in Africa have laws on the books criminalizing same-sex relations.

We’ve been on this story every since we first noticed that three American anti-gay activists were about to put on an anti-gay conference in Kampala. We did not believe and we have never suggested, as some have charged in probably the flimsiest strawman ever erected, that conditions weren’t already ripe for an anti-gay pogrom even without the meddling of three Americans who presented themselves as “experts” on homosexuality. We knew very well the conditions that already existed in that country, and that was the subject of the very second post we put up in the series.

We took notice and followed this story through the present day, and we’ll continue to follow it because Uganda has a very violent history. That violence in recent years has been directed toward that country’s reviled LGBT community. And now Ugandan leaders aim to take its violent legacy and codify it into law, turning LGBT people into candidates for the noose and a nation into an army of informers.

No, that conference didn’t start this fire, not by a longshot. The fire was already burning, but the conference was the napalm that burst the fire into the conflagration that we see today. And Uganda is hardly ground zero in Africa’s war against LGBT people. It’s just where the spotlight happens to shine at the moment. And with Ugandans’ extremely close geographical, cultural, and religious ties to Rwanda, Burundi and Kenya, these events bear very close scrutiny.

Click here to see BTB’s complete coverage of recent anti-gay developments in Uganda.

Nigerian calls on Anglican Communion to oppose Ugandan “Kill Gays” bill

Timothy Kincaid

November 11th, 2009

Before the current efforts to enact draconian punishment in Uganda for being gay, there was a similar effort in Nigeria. In that African nation, Anglican Archbishop Peter Akinola led the charge for enhanced sanctions which, as does the Ugandan bill, criminalized speech and association. And some leaders in the Church of Nigeria even called for the death of gay men and women.

Although many conservative American Christians revere free speech and free association as being nearly a Christian tenet in their home country, few were outraged by this anti-freedom effort on the part of anti-gay African clerics. In fact, just as in Uganda, it was influential conservative American Christians who lent their credibility to those who called for the restriction on basic human rights. In the United States, Akinola became a hero and a rallying figure for anti-gay Anglicans. Some churches who left the Episcopal Church declared themselves to be under Akinola’s authority.

mac-iyallaAnd gay Nigerians did suffer under the Church of Nigeria’s influence. Especially gay Nigerian Christians who dared speak against the church’s incivility. One gay Anglican in a leadership position, Davis Mac-Iyalla, fled for his life and has since been vocal in making Western Anglicans more aware of the blind hatred towards gay and lesbian Christians within some African churches that is driving the Anglican Communion towards a schism.

Now Mac-Iyalla is confronting the Anglican Church about its inaction in the face of church sanctioned evil in Uganda. He is unwilling to write this off as a “difference of opinion” or a local cultural peculiarity. Mac-Iyalla is directing his call to those most responsible for the Anglican Church’s inaction, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and the primates of Anglican Churches around the world.

In an open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury and primates of the Anglican Communion published by The Guardian, Mac-Iyalla calls the Church out to follow its own commitments:

I would like to remind you that the Lambeth Resolution 10 in 1978 recognised the need for pastoral concern for those who are homosexual. Resolution I.10 from 1998 commits the communion “to listen to the experience of homosexual persons and we wish to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ.” It also condemned the “irrational fear” of homosexuality and called on the communion to assure homosexual people that “they are loved by God.”

Legislation of the kind proposed in Uganda is based on irrational hatred and a desire to entrench the stigmatisation of LGBT people. There is no place for love, understanding or acceptance in such laws. As such, the Church of England has a duty to condemn the anti-homosexuality legislation and put pressure on those MPs who support such laws. Whatever the divisions within the communion about homosexuality as a moral issue, Anglicans should unite in condemnation of violent persecution and discrimination of LGBT people whoever and wherever they are, particularly when it is carried out in the name of Jesus Christ.

With the publication of this letter in a major UK newspaper, Williams can no longer pretend that he is unaware of the situation in Uganda. Nor that he is ignorant of the part that the Church of Uganda, a member of the Anglican Communion, is playing there.

I do not envy Rowan Williams. It cannot be easy to preside over a body in which one segment seeks to treat gay people as they would like to be treated and the other seems intent on defining their identity by the extent to which they hate and abuse gay people. It must be frustrating and challenging to know that the largest, most vibrant, and growing segment of your communion is one which is charged by fear, animosity, and hostility towards a powerless minority.

But we are not judged by our administration of easy solutions. Rather, the measure of a man is his response to challenges in difficult times. And so far, Williams seems to have adopted a Chamberlainian model for administration. He appears to seek appeasement of evil and conciliation of haters out of fear that he would oversee a breakup of the world’s second largest church.

But Williams needs to recognize that history is not kind to those who choose the easy course over that which is right, who allow the bigotry of the majority to dictate the terms of life for the persecuted. Especially if you do so in the name of religion.

Click here to see BTB’s complete coverage of recent anti-gay developments in Uganda.

Council for Global Equality’s Top Ten List “Where The U.S. Should Do More”

Jim Burroway

April 28th, 2009

Here is something that escaped our notice until now. The Council for Global Equality, in responding to the U.S. State Department’s annual human rights reports, has identified what it calls the “Top Ten Opportunities for the U.S. to Respond” to anti-LGBT human rights abuses which are highlighted in the report. The countries identified by the Council include Egypt, Gambia, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Kuwait, Kyrgyz Republic, Lithuania, Nigeria, and Uganda.

The ten countries weren’t necessarily selected because they are the worst countries in the world for LGBT abuses. Instead, they are identified as the ten countries in which the U.S. has the best opportunity to influence change through diplomatic, political and economic leverage. The details for each country are found at the Council’s web site (PDF: 140KB/8 pages) Here is a rundown for each country targeted by the Council, along with the Council’s recommendations:

  1. Egypt: arrests, beatings and imprisonment of men suspected of being HIV-positive. Egypt is the third largest recipient of foreign AID. “Our partnership with Egypt should extend beyond the Middle East peace process: it should require a broad commitment to human rights that includes the rights of LGBT men and women.
  2. Gambia: President Yahya Jammeh threatened to “cut off the head” of any homosexual in his country. “We should explore using USAID funds to support programs that encourage tolerance, respect for diversity, and a genuine commitment to civil society”
  3. Honduras: Identified as “one of the worst violators of gay and transgender human rights in 2008.” Police routinely round up LGBT youths without cause and Honduran security officials reportedly condone assaults and rapes on gay detainees. Multiple murders were reported, including a leading transgender rights activist. “The U.S. Embassy should offer visible support to LGBT leaders in the country, and should press for accountability within the Honduran government. It should work with Honduran authorities to offer tolerance and diversity training for police and other security forces that are suspected of complicity in human rights abuse. It also should press for a prompt and thorough investigation of the murders and other incidents noted above.”
  4. India: Police often commit crimes against LGBT people, and officials in Bangalore ordered the arrest of transgender people. “Given our increasingly close relationship with India, we should express frank concern to the Indian Government over LGBT violence and discrimination.”
  5. Jamaica: There have been numerous anti-gay mob attacks, sometimes with direct police complicity. Some attacks have resulted in murder. Homes were firebombed, and one individual was hacked to death by a machete. LGBT advocates continue to be murdered, beaten and threatened, driving some into exile. Police have been criticized in many instances for failing to respond. “Senior U.S. officials should urge Jamaica’s Prime Minister to show leadership by condemning this violence and instituting measures to bring these and any future perpetrators to justice. U.S. police assistance should be targeted toward programs that promote tolerance and the defense of vulnerable groups against mob violence.”
  6. Kuwait: Abuses against transgender individuals were cited. “Individual liberties are at the heart of our democracy, and are critical to the development of deep-seated relationships with like-minded friends and allies. We need to encourage this understanding with Kuwaiti and other authorities as part of our dialogue on human rights.”
  7. Kyrgyz Republic: The report notes “a pattern of beatings, forced marriages, and physical and psychological abuse in the Kyrgyz Republic against lesbian and bisexual women and transgender men.” The Council notes that Kyrgyzstan receives significant foreign assistance. “if Kyrgyz officials are unwilling to address the problem, we should reevaluate our assistance levels and other bilateral programs.
  8. Lithuania: Political leaders have embraced anti-gay policies and have denied LGBT groups the right to assemble peacefully. “Freedoms of assembly and of association are fundamental rights in any democracy. If Lithuania is to claim its place as a democratic state, it must be challenged to honor these principles in law and in practice.”
  9. Nigeria: Adults convicted of homosexuality are subject to stoning in parts of the country that have adopted Shari’a law. LGBT advocates have been threatened, stoned, and beaten. A proposed law pending in Nigeria’s Senate would not only ban same-sex marriage, but any “coming together of persons of the same sex with the purpose of living together …. for other purposes of same sexual relationship.” This would open the doors of arrest for those who are legally married outside of Nigeria and who happen to travel to that country for business or vacation. “We hope it [the U.S. Embassy] will work with European and other embassies in Abuja to voice strong concerns over this dangerous new bill in the Nigerian Senate.”
  10. Uganda: Homosexuality is criminalized. Police arrested members of an NGO for taking a public stand against discrimination, as well as three LGBT activist at an HIV/AIDS conference. “Uganda is one of the largest recipients of PEPFAR funding for HIV/AIDS care, prevention and treatment. In Uganda, the money has been used to empower institutions and activists that have led homophobic campaigns in the country. We need to consider whether the US government’s priority focus on abstinence funding is blunting the effectiveness of the money we’re spending, while also discouraging tolerance-based response to the epidemic.”

Writing on behalf of the council, Mark Bromley highlighted Egypt and Jamaica for special concern:

Egypt was our third largest recipient of foreign aid from USAID and the State Department last year.  I would not suggest cutting off U.S. assistance in a country like Egypt, but I am convinced that our funding should give us more leverage to speak out forcefully against the HIV arrests documented in the report.

… The U.S. government’s diplomatic response to these abuses must be strong and unconditional, and it should also be tied to our financial commitments in the country. Jamaica is a country where carefully-targeted U.S. support to gay rights or human rights groups could be effective in improving both the legal and community responses to LGBT violence.  In addition, we should use the foreign assistance funding that we have allocated over the past several years to professionalize the Jamaican police force to help respond to these attacks.

US Tax Dollars Funding African Anti-Gay Extremists

Jim Burroway

March 24th, 2009

Last January, BTB’s Timothy Kincaid highlighted the fact that some of Africa’s most ardent anti-gay extremists have received funding from the U.S. government to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa. Among those receiving funds from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is Uganda’s Martin Ssempa, who lead a public anti-gay vigilante campaign through the streets of Kampala demanding that the government “arrest all homos.”

Last week, Richard J. Rosendall, writing for the Bay Windows observed where some of the PEPFAR funding goes:

Charles Francis, a disillusioned former Bush appointee to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, seeks a course correction from the new president and Congress. He wrote to me last week about the need to reverse the Bush legacy that includes alliances with violent homophobes like Ugandan pastor Martin Ssempa and born-again Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza. The latter’s ruling party organized a March 6 demonstration in Bujumbura in which thousands of people demanded the criminalization of homosexuality.

“Today,” Francis writes, “we see this wave growing dangerously across the continent, from Senegal, where AIDS activists are now imprisoned, to Nigeria, where lawmakers want to jail gay people merely for living together, to Uganda, where three Americans recently held a public seminar on the ’Homosexual Agenda.’ It is time to put a ’hold’ on PEPFAR until Congress can demand the transparency and the necessary reform for this program.”

Our tax dollars are lining the pockets of those who don’t just promote prejudice and hatred, but who even would have us dead, exiled, or imprisoned for life. PEPFAR needs to be scrapped or exhaustively overhauled to include accountability and transparency, and which demands accountability and transparency on the part of its recipients. Ssempa must not receive one more cent of my tax money. Or yours.

[Hat tip: Michael Airhart]

Nigerian Gay Advocates Speak Out Against New Bill

Jim Burroway

March 11th, 2009
Gay rights activist Rashidi Williams addresses the committe of Nigeria's National Assembly (BBC)

Gay rights activist Rashidi Williams addresses the committe of Nigeria's National Assembly (BBC)

Nigerian gay rights advocates spoke out against a new bill which is supposed to outlaw same-sex marriages. The bill however goes much further than simply defining marriage as between a man and a woman. It will also provide prison sentences for gay people who merely live together, and for anyone who “aids and abets” them.

Nigerian gay rights activists spoke against the bill at a public committee meeting of the National Assembly. The new law provides a prison sentence of three years for anyone who has “entered into a same gender marriage contract.” The bill also defines same-sex marriage as gay people living together. It provides a sentence of five years or a fine for anyone who “witnesses, abet and aids the solemnization” of a same-sex marriage. The law also criminalizes anyone working in organizations which advocate for gay rights. Activists points out that the proposed bill law would punish those who “aids and abets” people to live together with a tougher sentence than the couple concerned.

Homosexuality is already punishable by fourteen years in prison. In the twelve northern states that have adopted Shari’a law, a conviction can bring a sentence of death by stoning. Nigeria, like Uganda, is also the scene of media-driven acts of public vigilantism against gays and lesbians:

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.

Nigeria Next Target For Draconian Anti-Gay Measures

Jim Burroway

March 7th, 2009

We received this press release via email late last night from the Independent Project for Equal Rights-Nigeria (TIP):

Nigerian gay rights activists and mainstream human rights organizations are intensifying efforts in collaboration with other human rights organizations in Nigeria to advocate against the Same-gender marriage prohibition bill at the forth-coming public hearing on the bill which will obviously criminalised sexual minorities and their advocates.

The bill was passed into the lower chamber of the National assembly at its second reading and currently sits on the laps of the Joint Committee on Human rights, Justice and Women’s Affair.

Led by the Independent Project for Equal Rights, gay rights advocates plan to voice their opposition to the bill and press for legal protection of sexual minorities at the hearing. Nigeria is among the world’s most dangerous environment for open advocacy for rights of homosexuals.

“This current bill is more draconian than the 2006 bill as it discreetly aim to target Human rights defenders through which I am affected along side my colleagues in human rights activism” said Joseph Sewedo Akoro. He further mentions that the bill will fuel human rights violation on the grounds of perceived or actual sexual orientation and gender identity expression in the country.

The public hearing on the same-gender marriage prohibition bill is now scheduled to hold on March 11, 2009. The bill will receive lots of deliberation after which it may or may not be passed by the lower chamber. If passed, the bill we go through the same process at the upper chamber before it is passed to the President for assent.

TIP shall mobilize a group of human rights organizations to the public hearing to give presentations against the bill and inform the House of Representatives the potential effect of the bill to National development and their obligation to maintain peace and orderliness in the country if the bill is passed.

Matt Barber Supports Jailing Married Same-Sex Couples

Jim Burroway

February 1st, 2009

Nigeria has one of the most draconian anti-gay laws on the books. Right now, consenting gay sex is punishable by up to 14 year in prison with hard labor. Now, Nigerian lawmakers are upping the ante with a new anti-gay bill which would make same-sex marriage punishable by up to three years in prison. The bill also would imprison anyone who attends a gay wedding with up to five years behind bars.

The anti-same-sex marriage bill goes beyond mere same-sex marriage. It also gives police the right to raid any public or private gatherings of any group of people suspected of being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

And it goes beyond Nigerian citizens, posing a threat to non-Nigerians as well. Anyone who married anywhere and returned to Nigeria, as well as anyone who is married to a same-sex partner who travels to Nigeria — including foreign business people — can be jailed.

In other words, there are some 36,000 Californians who face up to three years imprisonment with hard labor if they should step foot in Nigeria.

Matt Barber, of the Liberty Counsel, is completely on board with that:

Barber believes Nigeria and any other country ought to be free to express its own culture without outside interference.

“We have the Defense of Marriage Act on the books [in the United States]; why aren’t they coming after the U.S.? Well, because what bullies do is they pick on someone that is weaker than they are,” he notes. “So the European Union is trying to make an example out of Nigeria because they are in a position of influence and power, yet they will not pick the same fight with the United States because they know it would be to no avail.”

Matt surely knows there is a huge difference in how American laws and Nigerian laws treat LGBT people. One merely provides governmental non-recognition of same-sex marriage while the other imposes harsh prison terms in a Central African prison for anyone, including non-citizens and visitors, who are married.

Why would Barber overlook this massive difference? Maybe he wishes that difference wasn’t really there. His vigorous defense of the Nigerian bill, one that could even jeopardize American visitors, suggests that he sees imprisoning LGBT Americans and others around the world as nothing short of progress. Or at the very least, entirely defensible.

Rick Warren’s Religious Takeover in Africa

This commentary is the opinion of the author and may not necessarily reflect those of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin.

Timothy Kincaid

December 22nd, 2008
Rick Warren and Rwandan President Paul Kagame

Rick Warren and Rwandan President Paul Kagame

Pastor Rick Warren of the Saddleback Church loves to tell time and again about all the good he and his church are doing for AIDS victims in Africa. But what else is he doing on that continent?

From all evidence, it appears that he is meddling in the Church of England’s internal conflict over homosexuality. As we have discussed, the Anglican Church worldwide is threatened with schism because Bishops in Africa and Asia think that the American Episcopalians and Canadian Anglicans are too pro-gay. Since the 2003 ordination of gay Bishop Gene Robinson, several Bishoprics have been in open rebellion.

One of the rules of the Anglican Church is that each geographic location is distinct. You do not poach churches. But some of the African Bishops have gone so far as to work with rebel US congregations and to declare that they are now under their jurisdiction (or that of a South American Bishop).

Although Rick Warren is not Episcopal and has no business whatsoever in intruding himself into the debate, that has not slowed him at all in taking sides with the anti-gay Africans and encouraging schism.

In March, AllAfrica reports:

“The Church of England is wrong and I support the Church of Uganda(CoU) on the boycott,”Dr Warren said on Thursday shortly after arriving in Uganda.

The Bishops are protesting the Church of England’s tolerance a homosexuality. Announcing the boycott in February, Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi said that Uganda’s action had been prompted by the invitation of bishops of The US Episcopal Church (TEC) who in 2003 elected as bishop, Gene Robinson, a divorced man living in an active homosexual relationship.

Dr Warren said that homosexuality is not a natural way of life and thus not a human right. “We shall not tolerate this aspect at all,” Dr Warren said.

And for those who think that perhaps the divisions are not solely over gay issues and that Warren isn’t just being anti-gay by taking sides, on August 1, Dr. Orombi stated that the division was over this issue in no uncertain terms.

The American decision disregarded biblical authority by violating clear biblical teaching against homosexual behaviour. For this reason, the Church of Uganda and other Anglican provinces broke communion with the Episcopal Church in America in 2003, and we continue in that state of broken communion today.

Another of those African Bishops in “broken communion”, is Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria. In 2006 – 2007, Akinola led the charge for a bill that would

provide for five years’ imprisonment to anyone who “goes through the ceremony of marriage with a person of the same sex,” “performs, witnesses, aids or abets the ceremony of same sex marriage” or “is involved in the registration of gay clubs, societies and organizations, sustenance, procession or meetings, publicity and public show of same sex amorous relationship directly or indirectly in public and in private.”

Akinola must have really impressed Rick Warren because on April 30, 2006, Warren wrote a piece for Time Magazine in which he acknowledges his anti-gay activism and said

New African, Asian and Latin American church leaders like Akinola, 61, are bright, biblical, courageous and willing to point out the inconsistencies, weaknesses and theological drift in Western churches.

With nearly 18 million active Anglicans in Nigeria, Akinola’s flock dwarfs the mother Church of England’s membership. And since he is chairman of the 37 million—member Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa, when he speaks, far more than just Anglicans pay attention. Akinola has the strength of a lion, useful in confronting Third World fundamentalism and First World relativism.

I believe he, like Mandela, is a man of peace and his leadership is a model for Christians around the world.

Behind Warren’s AIDS support in Africa appears to be a less selfless motivation. It seems that Warren seeks to build a “Purpose Driven” empire in Africa. He first effort was in Rwanda which adopted his Purpose Driven Living program in 2005 (in 2007 the President of Rwanda supported a law criminalizing same-sex conduct), followed by his trip to Uganda in 2006.

“Uganda should be a purpose-driven nation as well,” [Orambi] said. “But it takes people of purpose to build purpose driven-churches, purpose-driven communities, and a purpose-driven country. Someday, we will have a purpose-driven continent!”

During a meeting with Ugandan church leaders, the American megachurch pastor said that he believes the future of Christianity is not in Europe or North America, but in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

It appears to me that Rick Warren seeks to replace the authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury with himself and to direct Christianity in the African Continent according to his own theology and ideology. And to do so he has joined with those who seem to determine orthodox Christianity solely by the extent to which one mistreats gays. And he has no hesitation in aligning himself with those who come to the United States seeking to damage the internal integrity of the Episcopal Church. And it’s all over the issue of homosexuality.

But his meddling in the Anglican Church raises a much larger objection than just that of the gay community. Why is Barack Obama honoring a man who is an activist in a religious secessionist movement? Having Rick Warren give the Invocation is a slap in the face of every Episcopalian in the nation and every loyal Anglican around the world.

The Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, should officially object.

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