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Nigeria’s anti-gay law fanning violence, ‘mob justice’ against LGBT people

Sunday, January 26, 2014
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I woke up at 5:00 am this morning unable to sleep and worrying over my fellow LGBT Nigerians.

The violence in the wake of the passing of my country’s anti-gay law keeps me awake and I find myself constantly preoccupied with the security of my friends and countrymen.

anti-gayThe violence is now being fanned throughout Nigeria’s churches and mosques, incentivizing violence and “mob justice” against LGBT people.

Last week, Aloysius Agbo, the Anglican Bishop of Nsukka said, “Every Christian in Nigeria is happy about the development … especially when he did that contrary to the pressure from the western world.”

Being gay is “unnatural, unwise and ungodly,” he said. “If our forefathers have done that [same-sex marriage], many of us would not have been born.”

The first thing I did was to pick up my phone and start calling my Nigerian friends and LGBT networks asking if people have seen the light day.

The first to speak with me was Tochukwu, a 29-year-old gay man from Aba, who recounts how he ran away from home because his neighbors where pointing fingers at him saying he is “one of those homosexuals.”

He tells me how in his Anglican church of St Michael’s Cathedral, people are rejoicing and thanking God the new law anti-gay law.

He says he was avoiding going into the city for fear of been identified, as the violent mobs often rush to attack anyone suspected of being gay.

“You won’t be given a chance to deny or refute such claims before you are attacked,” he says.

Adams, a 25-year-old member of the campaign group Changing Attitude Nigeria in Jos says he is “living in fear and scared to even reply any chat that has to do with being gay.”

“I have not attended church since the law was passed because I don’t want to be attacked,” he tells me. “You need to read the newspapers to hear what bishops and religious leaders are saying. My members, most of who depend on cyber cafes as means of getting internet services are now in fear of their emails being spied by the authorities.”

Nik, a 31-year-old gay man from Abuja tells me that landlords are now giving notice to tenants who “look feminine,” or are “suspected” to be gay, to leave their homes because they fear mobs attacks which could vandalize their property.

He says that on Monday, during a meeting in Abuja of a non-government organization to discuss the new anti-gay law, “we received an alert to run away from the village where we are meeting because the police will be there for random arrest.”

“That was the end of the meeting … we all ran for our lives and have not been able to come together since then,” he says.

“As an Anglican and a gay citizen of Nigeria, I am not impress with the silence of the Archbishop of Canterbury on the anti-gay law passed by the president of Nigeria,” says Uche Sam, Director of Changing Attitude Nigeria.

“I want the Archbishop to speak against this law and call on the President of Nigeria to denounce this horrible law, and encourage the government of Nigeria to promote an inclusive Nigeria,” he tells me. “I also like the Archbishop to advice the church of Nigeria to be welcoming to all people and not persecuting us.”

Sam tells he how the law makes the work of Changing Attitude Nigeria illegal in Nigeria.

“We can get up to 10 years in prison if we are caught trying to organize a meeting,” he says. “As the law stands we can’t affirm our identity as LGBT members of the Nigeria Anglican church.”

I can agree with Sam and demand that the Anglican Church speak out against the anti-gay law and anti-LGBT violence in Nigeria. Christianity does not condone such violence, no matter what one believes or feels about sexuality and gender identity.

To remain silent means you are complacent with the legislation and its corresponding violence and I call upon the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury and York to speak out against the law and the violence now.

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