Behind the Mask LGBT African website
18 January 2007
Nigerian anti-gay laws about to pass
by PinkNews.co.uk writer
New legislation currently being debated by politicians in Nigeria could be the most serious crackdown on the rights of gay and lesbian people since the Iranian revolution. The proposed laws are presented as a defence of marriage, but gay activist Peter Tatchell argues they seek to remove the few rights sexual minorities have in the troubled African state.
"The Prohibition of Relationships Between Persons of the Same Sex, Celebration of Marriage by Them, and for Other Matters Connected Therewith," is the title of the bill. It has been approved by the Nigerian Federal Executive Council and is now before the National Assembly. It is expected to be passed and become law shortly.
Civilian government only returned to the country in 1999. The president, Olusegun Obasanjo, controls the Executive Council and his Nigerian People’s Party has a majority in the both the Senate and House of Representatives. Although a centrist party, they derive most of their support from the Christian south of the country, and the Anglican church played an active role in promoting this legislation. Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell contacted PinkNews.co.uk to draw attention to the nature of the new legislation, which has the active backing of other Christian churches in Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa.
"The bill is primarily concerned with banning same-sex marriage, but its sub-clauses go much further," Mr Tatchell said. "They will strip lesbian and gay Nigerians of their already limited civil rights. The bill outlaws almost every expression, affirmation and celebration of gay identity and sexuality, and prohibits the provision of sympathetic advice and welfare support to lesbians and gay men."
"This draconian measure will outlaw membership of a gay group, attending a gay meeting or protest, advocating gay equality," Mr Tatchell claimed. "Donating money to a gay organisation, hosting or visiting a gay website, the publication or possession of gay safer sex advice, renting or selling a property to a gay couple, expressions of same-sex love in letters or emails, attending a same-sex marriage or blessing ceremony, screening or watching a gay movie, taking or possessing photos of a gay couple, and publishing, selling or loaning a gay book or video."
In May 2006, British human rights minister Ian Pearson expressed outrage at the legislations and said, "we plan to raise our concerns with the Nigerian authorities." Despite the protests of governments and human rights activists, the Nigerian government have pressed ahead with the new laws, which are in contravention of various international treaties.
Homosexuality is already illegal in the country. Nigeria’s criminal code penalises consensual homosexual conduct between adults with 14 years imprisonment. This law was originally introduced by the British colonial administration in the nineteenth century. In addition, Sharia law, which was introduced in northern Nigeria in 1999, outlaws "sodomy," which could be interpreted to mean any sexual contact between men.
The Anglican Church, who have a huge powerbase in Nigeria, have been key in promoting this bill. The church has been increasingly vocal about its disapproval of the position of women and gay men in the English and American churches. The Nigerian Church has already deleted all references to Canterbury from its constitution in defiance of Archbishop Rowan Williams.
The new law carries an automatic five year jail sentence for those who break it. "The bill currently being debated in the Nigerian parliament, is the most comprehensively homophobic legislation ever proposed in any country in the world," said Mr Tatchell. "We appeal to gay and human rights groups worldwide to take urgent action to press the Nigerian government to uphold international human rights law and to drop this draconian legislation."
For more information on the OutRage protest against Nigeria’s homophobic law please visit www.outrage.org.uk
February 14, 2007
Nigerian Primate has unexpected Valentines Day gay encounter
Archbishop Peter Akinola, scourge of lesbian and gay people and their supporters in the worldwide Anglican Communion, had an unexpected Valentines Day encounter today – with the head of an organization that embodies the concerns of a group he has previously suggested do not exist, gay Christians in Nigeria. This afternoon (14 February 2007), following the first press briefing prior to the official start of the Anglican Primates meeting on Thursday 15 February, Mr Davis Mac-Iyalla, director of Changing Attitude Nigeria and Archbishop Peter Akinola, Primate of All Nigeria, met for the first time.
As Mr Mac-Iyalla left the hotel lobby with the Rev Caro Denton Hall (from Integrity, USA), he found the Archbishop in the company of Bishop Martyn Minns (head of a breakaway group of US Episcopal parishes now under Nigerian control) and his wife, plus Canon Chris Sugden from the conservative group Anglican Mainstream. Mr Mac-Iyalla went straight to the Archbishop to introduce himself and Denton Hall, from the network of lesbian and gay Episcopalians. The Rev Colin Coward of Changing Attitude England reports: “The Archbishop did not immediately recognize Davis, but asked him what he was doing in Tanzania. Davis explained that he has come to greet him and other Primates. Peter Akinola asked Davis if they had met before and Davis said yes, they had met several times, when Akinola came to inaugurate the Province of Jos. Davis told the Archbishop the story of the late bishop Ugede, when they had met at the bishop’s funeral.”
Coward continued: “Davis also told Peter Akinola how he had spent the night at his house following Bishop Ugede’s death in Abuja. Davis went on to describe the formation of Changing Attitude Nigeria. Peter Akinola then remembered who Davis was and thanked him. The Archbishop jokingly asked Davis if he was officially invited to the meeting, and Davis replied that no, he is not a Primate.” Mr Coward, who had met Archbishop Akinola at an Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Nottingham, joined Mac-Iyalla and they exchanged handshakes and greetings with the Archbishop, who Coward described as “friendly and open”.
After the meeting, Davis Mac-Iyalla said: “I came to Tanzania hoping I would be given the opportunity to meet my own Primate and I am very happy now to have met him and been warmly greeted by him. My Archbishop is now aware that I am here, representing Nigerian lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered Anglicans.” He added: “I care about our Anglican Communion of which we are both members. I would hope for the opportunity of meeting him again so that I can bring before him the issues affecting gays and lesbians in Nigeria as a result of the Government bill [proscribing homosexual activity and organization] and of church attitudes towards LGBT people.”
Mr Mac-Iyalla, whose has faced accusations and death threats in his home country, declared: “I am happy now that the truth that I have always told about myself, that I am a gay Nigerian Anglican has been witnessed by my own Primate. I hope Archbishop Peter Akinola will know that I am not a person who has deceived or cheated the church. I have always told the truth about my time with Bishop Ugede in Otukpo and my commitment to the diocese and the whole church.” The global Anglican Primates meeting outside Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s largest city, is surrounded by security, meaning that opportunities for lay people, clergy and others not part of the official retinue to meet them are severely limited.__The gathering is the last of it kind before the Lambeth Conference in 2008, and observers say that it could be determinative in shaping future decisions about the troubled 77-million Communion.
Divisions between those who believe that affirming lesbian and gay people is a Gospel imperative and those who argue that it goes against biblical principles, are very deep. But Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, while reserving his own personal position in favour of upholding majority church teaching, has urged people to meet and talk face-to-face. The Windsor Report also encouraged Anglican leaders to listen to the voices of lesbian and gay people in the Church. In practice this has been difficult, and many Global South Primates have refused to do so. Those seeking ways beyond the impasse will hope that the unexpected Valentines Day encounter between Archbishop Akinola and Mr Mac-Iyalla will be a small step toward dialogue rather than confrontation.
February 17, 2007
IGLHRC’S New report documents LGBT Nigerians’ response to the Same-Sex Prohibition Act
For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Hossein Alizadeh, 212-430-6016 , email@example.com
Nigerian lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgenders speak out against a proposed law in a new report by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC). The report, “Voices from Nigeria” provides personal accounts of homophobic attacks, arbitrary arrests and detentions, and increased levels of homophobia that have already begun as a result of the introduction of the legislation, referred to as the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act. Introduced to the Nigerian National Assembly in January 2006, the Act launches a vigorous attack on freedom of expression, assembly, and association in Africa’s most populous nation. If passed, the law would create criminal penalties for engaging in same- sex marriages or relationships and for advocating for the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders. Simply taking part in a gay or lesbian club or support group would be illegal. Public hearings on the bill were held on February 14, 2007, by the Women’s Committee of Nigeria’s National Assembly and it could be voted into law as early as next month.
“Ultimately, it is the lives of LGBT Nigerians that will be affected by this law,” said Cary Alan Johnson, IGLHRC’s Senior Specialist for Africa. “The report is meant to turn up the volume of those voices.” One of those interviewed for the IGLHRC report is an HIV Outreach worker named Chuma who was arrested and detained by the police in Lagos in 2006 while carrying out research for a study on the prevalence and risk factors of HIV/AIDS among men that have sex with men. According to Chuma, “a team of policemen in Lagos came to my apartment and took me away to an unknown place for 2 days. I was beaten beyond recognition, and I am still receiving treatment for the head injury I received. I was dehumanized and paraded naked to the press… My only offense was that I am gay.” Chuma was eventually released without being charged or tried. Sarah, a Nigerian sexual rights activist, believes that many Nigerians are acting like the Bill has already been passed. She cites attacks on gay men in Abuja, the capital city, and the expulsion of cadets from a national military academy.
During the hearings, officials in the Nigerian president’s office claimed that passage of the bill would help to fight HIV. Aishat, a gay Nigerian man interviewed for the report argues however that “the Bill will force to people having sex in secret rather than stopping gays having sex. Condoms will be used less and less often because there will be no time to develop relationships because of fear of being caught.” In releasing the report, IGLHRC has called on the Nigerian authorities to remember their commitments to International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) that guarantees freedom from unfair discrimination and the right to privacy. Provisions of the Act are also inconsistent with the principle of non- discrimination found in the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and the Nigerian Constitution.
The report is available on line at http://www.iglhrc.org/files/iglhrc/reports/Voices_Nigeria.pdf or by contacting IGLHRC. Those interested in expressing their concern about the pending legislation can send politely worded appeals to:
His Excellency Professor George A. Obiozor
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
3519 International Court, NW
Washington, DC 20008_
Fax: (202) 362-6552_
February 21, 2007
Nigeria: World’s Worst Anti-Gay Law May Pass Soon
One of the most sweeping anti-gay bills ever introduced in any parliament in the world is in danger of rapid passage in Nigeria in the coming weeks. Although billed as a ban on same-sex marriage, the proposed law includes provisions that would make any expression of homosexuality — not only sexual conduct but any homosexual inclination or reference, including any gay association or socializing — in public or in private, a crime.
22 February 2007
Anti-Same Sex Marriage Bill Before Senate
by Sufuyan Ojeifo
Abuja – The Senate was excited yesterday when a bill seeking to prohibit same sex marriage came up for debate and read for the second time. Entitled: "Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill, 2007", the bill was referred to the Standing Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters under the chairmanship of Senator Oserhiemen Osunbor (Edo Central) for further consideration and processing. Section 8 of the bill prescribes a term of five years imprisonment for offenders, which includes witnesses of such marriages, awaits persons of same sex who are found guilty of the offence.
Senate Leader, Senator Dalhatu Sarki Tafida (Kaduna North) led the debate on the Bill’s general principles, opening the debate with an explanation of same sex marriage. According to him, "This simply means the coming together of two persons of the same gender or sex in a civil union, marriage, domestic partnership or other form of same sex relationship for the purposes of cohabitation as husband and wife". He said further: "The bill provides essentially that only marriage entered into between a man and a woman under the Marriage Act or under the Islamic and Customary Laws are valid and recognised in Nigeria.
When this bill becomes law, it will prohibit the following:
"Marriage between persons of the same sex and adoption of children by them in or out of a same sex marriage or relationship is prohibited in the Federal republic of Nigeria; Any marriage entered into by persons of same sex pursuant to a licence issued by another State, country foreign jurisdiction or otherwise shall be void in theFederal Republic of Nigeria.
-Marriages between persons of the same sex are invalid and shall not be recognised as entitled to the benefits of a valid marriage.
-Any contractual or other rights granted to persons involved in same sex marriage or accruing to such persons by virtue of a licence shall be unenforceable in any Court of law in Nigeria.
Noting that there had been a spate of same sex marriages in some countries in recent times, Tafida said: "Nigeria is not exempted from the practice of homosexuality and in fact evidence abounds in this country of its existence". He added: "It is to pro-act in this direction that this Executive Bill has become necessary to enact into law and stop anyone who might attempt to marry some one of the same sex in this country. It is therefore important for senators to support the passage of this Bill without delay, as delay might be dangerous.
"It is an offence, going by the provisions of the Bill, to celebrate same sex marriage in any place of worship by any recognised cleric of a Mosque, Church, denomination or body to which such place of worship belongs, and no marriage license shall be issued to parties of the same sex in this country. Similarly, going by the provision of this Bill, there is absolute prohibition of registration of gay clubs and societies and publicity of same sex sexual relationship. The offences and penalties are spelt out in Section 8 of this Bill. A term of five years imprisonment for offenders, which includes witnesses of such marriages, awaits persons of same sex who are found guilty of this offence".
He stated further, "As you all know, same sex marriage is an abomination in the cultures of our people and it should also be an abomination for this distinguished assembly of wise Nigerians to fail to act by passing this Bill expeditiously. I trust you will enact this Bill into law with minimum delay".
The Deputy Senate President, Senator Ibrahim Nasir Mantu (Plateau State) who spoke after the Senate Leader said that he would have throught that the government would devote more time to "do things more important to the lives of our country than for it to propose this Bill.
"What the government is now doing is creating awareness to this thing and for us to create this kind of awareness, people may now want to start exploring it. Mr. President we have more serious things to do than to be working on this bill, I therefore urge that members should help me to kill this bill". Senate Chief Whip, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma supported Mantu and argued that "When you pass a law, it is meant to deal with a problem. My view is that the marriage act that we operate in Nigeria defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. As the deputy Senate President said, I think we should set this aside so that we can concentrate on the more important things we have to do".
Senator Daisy Danjuma (Edo South) said: "This is not an issue here right now. It is such countries that issues like this have been discussed in Parliament that it is an issue. The problems we should face now are national issues concerning us; this is not an issue for now. We should not make an issue and give it the relevance it does not deserve".
But Senator Sani Kamba (Zamfara State) countered, saying, "You do not say that we have the Marriage Act. Let us enact it now. I disagree that we should throw it away". Senate President, Senator Ken Nnamani, drew attention of Senators to Order 55(2), saying "There is what is called alternative lifestyle. We will be telling ourselves a lie if we say there are no homosexuals in Nigeria" .
1 March 2007
Nigeria’s anti-gay bill causes protests
by staff writer
Human rights and gay activists until now have kept a low profile regarding the attempt by Nigerian lawmakers to promote Africa’s most draconic bill limiting the rights of sexual minorities. They did not want to give the promoters publicity. But now, as lawmakers are getting serious on the bill, a wave of protests is reaching Nigeria. The controversial bill, entitled the "Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act", would imprison anyone who speaks out or forms a group supporting lesbian and gay people’s rights, and would silence virtually any public discussion or visibility around lesbian and gay lives in Nigeria.
In its last published version, the draconian bill would impose a five-year prison sentence on anyone who "goes through the ceremony of marriage with a person of the same sex." Anyone, including a priest or cleric, who "performs, witnesses, aids or abets the ceremony of same sex marriage," would face the same sentence. But the bill goes even beyond that to punish any positive representation of or advocacy for the rights of Nigeria’s lesbians and gays. Anyone "involved in the registration of gay clubs, societies and organisations, sustenance, procession or meetings, publicity and public show of same sex amorous relationship directly or indirectly in public and in private," would be subject to the same sentence.
The legislation was first introduced in January 2006 by Nigeria’s Minister of Justice, Bayo Ojo. But it has been lying dormant for months in the National Assembly as Nigerian politicians are gearing up for nationwide elections in April this year. Human rights and gay activists in Nigeria during last year kept a remarkable low profile on the bill, although knowing it could seriously change the climate in the country. Their strategy proved to be wise. Without loud protest action from the gay community, the bill would get little attention in global and national media, making politicians lose their interest as personal conflicts were bound to surface ahead of this year’s elections.
But in January this year, the silence was broken. The prominent British gay activist Peter Tatchell and his group OutRage! suddenly launched an international appeal to human rights groups worldwide "to take urgent action to press the Nigerian government to uphold international human rights law and to drop this draconian legislation." The silence was broken.
And the dead-believed bill suddenly resurfaced from Nigerian lawmakers’ drawers. African gay rights groups were furious. "Stay out of African Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex (LGBTI) issues," several prominent activists wrote to Mr Tatchell. "You have proven that you have no respect for conveying the truth with regards to Africa or consulting African LGBTI leaders before carrying out campaigns that have severe consequences in our countries. You have betrayed our trust over and over again," the letter went on.
The case was given much attention in the British press as a reaction to "neo-colonial" behaviour by UK groups and Mr Tatchell shortly thereafter withdrew his appeal. But Pandora’s box had already been opened. Also, the gay activists’ hitherto successful strategy of silence was made known through the press, reaching Nigerian lawmakers. On 14 February, the Women Affairs and Youth Committee of Nigeria’s House of Representatives held a hearing on the "Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act" – the first real development in the bill’s tabling for one year. Most observers in Nigeria hold that the parliament is likely to pass the bill in a speedy process before the April elections.
Therefore, human rights and gay activists rapidly have had to change their strategy to prevent the extremely homophobic bill to be accepted. Since this week, loud protests are called for from all organisations and lobbyists are trying to make foreign governments put pressure on the Nigerian parliament. Yesterday, the New York-based group Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a strong-worded protest against the "sweepingly homophobic bill". According to HRW’s Scott Long, "this law strikes a blow not just at the rights of lesbian and gay people, but at the civil and political freedoms of all Nigerians. If the National Assembly can strip one group of its freedoms, then the liberties of all Nigerians are at risk."
At the same time, a group of more than 250 US Christian leaders issued a statement headed "persecution and hatred are not Christian values." The message was clear: "Whether in Nigeria or in the United States, the Christian value of human dignity for all is paramount. We call upon the government of Nigeria to respect basic human dignity and reject the persecution of lesbians and gays by withdrawing the proposed law."
Last week, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) issued a report documenting how Nigerian homosexuals reacted to the bill. The report provided personal accounts of homophobic attacks, arbitrary arrests and detentions, and increased levels of homophobia that "have already begun as a result of the introduction" of the bill. IGLHRC called on Nigerian authorities to remember their commitments to global human rights standards. The UN is confirming that the activists have a good case when saying Nigerian lawmakers would counter their country’s international commitments if approving the bill. A panel of UN human rights experts issued a statement last week, expressing "deep concern" about the draft. "Provisions of the draft bill discriminate against a section of society, are an absolutely unjustified intrusion of an individual’s right to privacy and contravene Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," the assessment said.
"We note with concern that same-sex relationships are already prohibited and criminalised in Nigeria and carry the death penalty," the UN experts said, holding that even existing legislation was violating global human rights standards. In addition to discrimination and persecution on the basis of sexual orientation, the new bill "contains provisions that infringe freedoms of assembly and association and imply serious consequences for the exercise of the freedom of expression and opinion." As the wide-ranging consequences of the bill are becoming known, more and more protests are being formulated. Today, even the Toronto-based press freedom watchdog International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) voiced its concern about the bill, noting it "will imprison those who speak out, show, or organise support for lesbian and gay rights" if approved. This again would generally undermine freedom of expression.
There is only very limited hope that activists will be able to prevent the bill from being approved. But even if successful, gay activists must note that another big battle is already lost – that of Nigerian homosexuals’ acceptance in society. According to the IGLHRC report, many Nigerians are acting like the bill has already been passed. It cites recent attacks on gay men in Abuja and the expulsion of cadets from a national military academy.
19 March 2007
Nigerian gay group claim new law could create exodus
by Christopher Hayes
A gay rights pressure group has condemned Nigeria’s anti-gay marriage bill, warning that its passing would cause significant problems for other countries. Changing Attitudes Nigeria (CAN), an Anglican Church pressure group on LGBT rights, attacked a bill that would ban same-sex marriage and imprison anyone associated with promoting gay rights. Davis Mac-Iyalla, head of Changing Attitudes Nigeria, warned that acceptance of the bill would see vast numbers of Nigerians fleeing to other countries to escape persecution.
"Already we are seeing an increase in homophobic behaviour and attacks, because people feel they can get away with it. The climate is already becoming intolerable", said Mac-Iyalla. "Unless the government tones down its language and cancels the bill, we are going to see a flood of refugees as people flee for their lives," he warned. The proposed legislation was introduced by President Olusegun Obasanjo in February 2006 and according the BBC, parliamentary insiders have said that the bill is likely to be passed by both chambers of the Nigeria National Assembly by the end of this month. The legislation has attracted loud protest from across the world. In March 2006, sixteen international human rights groups signed a letter condemning the bill saying that it "contravenes the basic rights to freedom of expression, conscience, association, and assembly."
New York based Human Rights Watch said in a statement: "This draconian measure will only intensify prejudice and discrimination based on sexual orientation." The group also warned that the bill would make it harder to combat Aids in Nigeria since it would make some of the work being carried out by HIV prevention groups illegal. But Emmanuel Onwubiko, a senior commissioner at Nigeria’s Human Rights Commission told the BBC:
"Supporters of the same-sex marriage in Nigeria don’t know what they are saying. As far as we are concerned, gay marriage is not allowed in Africa. If South Africa want to do it, that is their business. It is not Nigerian to by gay, let alone going ahead to legally get married as gay and even live as a family with adopted children. It’s completely alien to our culture," he added.
Nigeria has a population of roughly 117 million. 6.5% of the population is conservatively estimated to be gay putting at least 760,000 Nigerians at threat from imprisonment.
"If only a fraction of those sought sanctuary elsewhere, that would still create a headache for countries that Nigerians would naturally flee to," warns Davis Mac-Iyalla. Nigeria, like many African countries, is notoriously conservative on issues such as homosexuality. It is currently banned in the Nigerian penal code and in Muslim law. Furthermore, in around a dozen northern states which are under Islamic Sharia law, it is punishable by death by stoning.
The country also has the world’s third-highest population of Aids suffers with around 3.6 million people infected with HIV. Last week the European Parliament adopted a resolution on human rights violations in Nigeria and called on them not to adopt the bill currently being debated. Patricia Prendiville, Executive Director of ILGA-Europe, said: "We welcome the European Parliament’s stance on human rights violations in Nigeria.
"We fear that the current outrageous bill outlawing any activities representing and protecting the human rights of LGBT people in Nigeria is not prominently dealt with by the Parliament and this issue might loose its momentum by being shelved together with other ongoing human rights concerns in Nigeria.
28 March 2007
Archbishop of Canterbury says churches must be ‘safe’ for gays
by staff writers
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has said that the churches of the Anglican Communion must be safe places for gay and lesbian people. His comments come in a welcome to an interim report on the Anglican Communion’s Listening Process, a commitment to listen to the experience of homosexual people. Williams warns that the challenge to create the safe space for their voices to be heard and for their dignity to be respected is based on a fundamental commitment of the Communion.
"The commitments of the Communion are not only to certain theological positions on the question of sexual ethics but also to a manifest and credible respect for the proper liberties of homosexual people, a commitment again set out in successive Lambeth Conference Resolutions over many decades" he said. In what will be seen as a reference to the situation in Nigeria where Anglican Archbishop Akinola is backing legal measures which would oppress gay and lesbian people, Rowan Williams said; "I share the concerns expressed about situations where the Church is seen to be underwriting social or legal attitudes which threaten these proper liberties. It is impossible to read this report without being aware that in many places – including Western countries with supposedly ‘liberal’ attitudes – hate crimes against homosexual people have increased in recent years and have taken horrifying and disturbing forms.
"No-one reading this report can be complacent about such a situation, and the Church is challenged to show that it is truly a safe place for people to be honest and where they may be confident that they will have their human dignity respected, whatever serious disagreements about ethics may remain. It is good to know that the pastoral care of homosexual people is affirmed clearly by so many provinces."
In his statement, Archbishop Williams paid tribute to the work of Canon Phil Groves and the team at the Anglican Communion Office involved in coordinating the Listening Process.
The interim report, comprising summaries of the Communion’s 38 Provinces’ progress on the issue, can be found at: http://www.aco.org/listening/reports/
April 26, 2007
Nigerian Lesbian In Hiding After Gay Wedding
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
(Lagos) A lesbian has reportedly gone into hiding to avoid imprisonment after marrying four women. The whereabouts of her brides is unknown. Reuters, quoting local media in the city of Kano, reports that Aunty Maiduguri, 45, married the four 2,000 guests looked on. The wedding was followed by two days of feasting. Kano is one of 12 Islamic states in northern Nigeria. It introduced Sharia law in 2000, making homosexuality a capital crime.
"As defenders of Sharia law, we shall not allow this unhealthy development to take place," Rabo Abdulkarim, deputy commander of the state Islamic police, told ThisDay newspaper, Reuters said. "We are investigating the matter with a view to find the culprits and punish them."
Federal law also bans homosexuality. Anyone convicted could face up to 14 years behind bars. Last year it became a crime for same-sex Nigerian couples to travel abroad to marry. The government also is considering legislation that would strip gays and lesbians of all civil rights. The bill started out as a ban on same-sex marriage and has been revised to make it a crime for more than two gay people to be in the same venue at the same time.
It prohibits LGBT social or civil rights groups from forming. It would be illegal to sell or rent property to same-sex couples, watch a gay film or video, visit an LGBT web site, or express same-sex love in a letter to one’s partner. The legislation goes so far as to make it a criminal offense to impart information of HIV/AIDS to gays or for non-gays to meet with any group of gays for any purpose. The penalty would be five years in prison with hard labor.
The bill has the support of Nigeria’s Anglican Church – the major religion in the south – and its leader Archbishop Peter Akinola who has been at the forefront of opposing gay clergy in the denomination. Conservative Anglican churches in the US have aligned themselves with Akinola.
17 July 2007
Cracking down on Nigeria’s ‘pleasure island’
by Senan Murray , BBC News, Kano
The Sharia police, or Hisbah, say they will soon commence raids in an enclave in northern Nigeria’s ancient Muslim city of Kano – dubbed by locals as "pleasure island". The Hisbah have given themselves the task of enforcing morals and Islamic law in the city, but so far have largely left Sabon Gari, or New Town, alone, complete with its bars, brothels and night-clubs. But they say they must stamp out such "sinfulness" in case it "pollutes" the rest of the city. Sabon Gari has always been a district populated by "settlers" or non-Muslim southern traders and professionals who have settled and worked in Kano. But after years of ethnic and religious violence, much of Kano’s small Christian population withdrew further to Sabon Gari to seek safety in numbers.
This has resulted in a peaceful co-existence between residents of the area and the rest of the city. Sabon Gari also happens to be one of Kano’s biggest ghettos, with blocked sewers, gullied streets and piles of rubbish on almost every street corner. Cannabis is also openly smoked in this part of the city and pipe-born water is even rarer than in the rest of Kano.
Kano is among a dozen states in northern Nigeria practising Sharia law, despite initial strong opposition from the federal government, Christians and human rights groups. More than a dozen Muslims have been sentenced to death by stoning for sexual offences like adultery and homosexuality since the Sharia legal system was introduced in 2000. Many others have been sentenced to flogging for drinking alcohol. Two petty thieves have also had their hands amputated – but no death sentences have so far been carried out.
The BBC News website learnt that some Muslims often cross the religious divide – under the cover of darkness – from the Sharia part of Kano to Sabon Gari for dancing, alcohol and sex.
"I often bring many of them here at night to drink," says Mohammed, a taxi driver in the city. It’s an open secret, my brother. The code is thou shall not be caught," he says with a knowing smile. Mohammed wouldn’t say whether he also makes the nocturnal pilgrimage to the city’s pleasure island. "As long as no-one sees you, you remain a good Muslim and the Hisbah can’t come after you."
‘Instruments of sin’
Even in the Sharia part of Kano, prostitutes often disguise their trade by covering themselves up in the Islamic veil. But now, the Hisbah are saying enough is enough. "Sharia has been very successful in Kano. So, we cannot allow a tiny spot in the city to ruin our successes so far," Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, who is in charge of operations at the Hisbah, told the BBC News website. He says his men will soon launch a raid on Sabon Gari to cleanse it of all "instruments of sin". But Mr Abdulkarim also understands the complex cultural nuances of his environment.
"Sharia is not a one-day affair. We will get there very soon. Knowing the nature of our environment, we have to be really careful," he says. He says he has started by reducing the amount of alcohol that goes into Sabon Gari without actually entering the district. They say Sharia is for the Muslims. As for me, my religion does not stop me from selling or taking alcohol, why should they try to interfere with my business?
‘Madam Cash’, Bar-owner
"We mount checkpoints on the main roads leading into the city and impound all lorries attempting to bring alcohol into our city. So, in fact, all the beer you see in Sabon Gari was smuggled in." But Obinna Amaechi, sitting in a roadside bar with a beer bottle in his hand, is not worried. They are not serious. They come here at night and join us at the bar and now they say they want to come and destroy the beer parlours? I think they are joking," he says nonchalantly. Bar-owner Chidinma Anakwe or "Madam Cash", as her customers call her, further points out that that the Hisbah said non-Muslims would not be affected by Sharia.
"They say Sharia is for the Muslims. As for me, my religion does not stop me from selling or taking alcohol, why should they try to interfere with my business?" she asks. Madam Cash runs a roadside bar on a main road in Sabon Gari. Despite her passionate defence of her liquor trade, she wouldn’t want her picture taken, afraid that her bar might be singled out by "some people" for cleansing.
Massaging the system
Her fear is common among the Christian and animist residents of Sabon Gari. Having been through many ethnic and religious clashes, in which hundreds of people were killed, they have learnt to massage the system rather than rock the boat. Many of them reacted almost violently when attempts were made to take their pictures or those of their bars. "As long as they remain this careful, they will keep their businesses and the Hisbah may never come here," Solomon Gapsiso, a Christian who has lived in Kano for more than a decade, said. "The Hisbah are only joking," one sex worker said with what seemed like a genuine carefree attitude. Even for Saudi [Arabia], ashawo dey – there are prostitutes even in Saudi," she said.
Mr Abdulkarim says other societies may tolerate sex workers, but his green-uniformed Hisbah will not allow Kano to become the modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah. However, there is yet another district where Mr Abdulkarim and his band of Hisbah volunteers will not go, even if they rid Sabon Gari of its "sinful" night life – the army and police barracks. These also boast small "mammy markets", where alcohol is freely sold and sex-workers operate unhindered. It is unlikely that Mr Abdulkarim’s unarmed patrol teams could venture into these enclaves, suggesting Kano will continue to implement Sharia in patches for a long time to come.
6th August 2007
Activists try to stop Nigeria’s bid for Commonwealth glory
by Tony Grew
Gay activists in Nigeria have questioned whether that country should be allowed to host the Commonwealth Games because of its "systematic persecution of lesbian and gay Nigerians." A delegation led by Davis Mac-Iyalla, founder and leader of the gay Christian group, Changing Attitude Nigeria, met with the chief executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) in London last week to put their case. They presented the CGF with an 11-page report setting out why it should reject the bid by the Nigerian city of Abuja to host the 2014 Games. The report, entitled Abuja’s Bid – Sins of Omission, was authored by Mr Mac-Iyalla and Mike Hersee, both members of Changing Attitude Nigeria, the Anglican church pressure group which campaigns for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) human rights.
Mike Hooper, chief executive of CGF, agreed to present their report to the President of the Commonwealth Games Federation, Michael Fennell, later this month. The Commonwealth Games was founded under its original name, the British Empire Games, in 1930. They are held every four years, giving around 5,000 athletes from the Commonwealth of Nations the chance to compete. The Commonwealth Games Federation constitution dictates that "there shall be no discrimination against any country or person on any grounds whatsoever including race, colour, gender, religion or politics" in Article 7. The CGF website also claims that "Underlying every decision made by the CGF are three core values – HUMANITY, EQUALITY AND DESTINY."
Nigerian law directly contradicts this, stating that anyone who has "carnal knowledge of any person against order of nature or permits a male to have carnal knowledge of him" can be imprisoned for 14 years. "It would not be right for the 2014 Commonwealth Games to be held in Nigeria, given the country’s appalling human rights record, including its systematic persecution of lesbian and gay Nigerians," said Mr Mac-Iyalla. "Nigeria’s homophobic oppression is a violation of the Commonwealth Games ethos of equality, humanity, peace, unity, cooperation and understanding. Unless Nigeria radically improves its human rights record, it should be ruled out of consideration as a host for the 2014 Games."
Peter Tatchell of gay human rights group OutRage!, and the Reverend Stephen Coles, a member of the General Synod of the Church of England and Vicar of St Thomas’, Finsbury Park, London, were also in the delegation. Mr Tatchell paid tribute to Mr Mac-Iuyalla’s work on gay rights.
"Davis has done a magnificent job exposing the victimisation of gay people in Nigeria – a victimisation that is incited and endorsed by the Anglican Church of Nigeria and its leader, Archbishop Peter Akinola.
"Earlier this year Mr Mac-Iyalla was forced to flee Nigeria and seek exile in a nearby African country, due to threats to kill him. These threats were prompted by his public condemnation of homophobic discrimination and violence in Nigeria, and by his public witness as an openly gay Christian. Davis is a truly remarkable, courageous man. He is taking a defiant stand in support of gay human rights, despite the serious danger that he could be murdered. We salute him," said Mr Tatchell.
The final decision on which city will host the 2014 Games will be taken in early November. Abuja is in direct competition with Glasgow to host the international sporting competition
10th August 2007
Nigerian men could face death penalty for ‘gay marriage’
by PinkNews.co.uk writer
18 men have been arrested at a hotel in northern Nigeria and charged with sodomy. The men, who were detained by police on Sunday, come from different parts of Nigeria and were allegedly dressed in women’s clothes. They had come together to celebrate a gay ‘marriage,’ according to the NAN government news agency. The arrests took place in Bauchi city, the capital of a Muslim state in the centre of Nigeria with a population of 316,000. Sharia law is enforced in the state and if found guilty the men could be executed.
Bauchi state has already convicted three people to death by stoning for sexual offences and an agency who oversee the implementation of sharia law is pressing for the sentences to be carried out. In Nigeria, the governor in a Muslim state must give his approval for some of the harsher penalties handed down by sharia courts, such as execution or amputation. Predominantly Muslim states in Nigeria introduced sharia law, a legal system based on Islamic theory and philosophy of justice, in 2000.
In reality the re-introduction of harsh punishments has been the main feature of sharia courts. In Bauchi state alone there are 40 people awaiting amuputation of one or both hands for theft. The 18 men have been charged with sodomy and remanded in custody. They will return to court on August 21st.
10 August 2007
Gay Nigerians face Sharia death
Eighteen men have been remanded in prison following their arrest for alleged sodomy in northern Nigeria, the state-owned news agency, Nan, reports. The men were arrested in a hotel in north-eastern Bauchi State, which is governed by the Islamic Sharia law. The Sharia punishment for sodomy is death by stoning. The men, reportedly wearing women’s clothes, are said to have gone to Bauchi town from neighbouring states to celebrate a "gay wedding". Sharia judge Malam Tanimu ordered that the 18 be remanded in prison after they were arraigned before him on Wednesday. Prosecuting police officer Tadius Boboi said the men’s actions had contravened Sharia law, adopted in Bauchi and a dozen other states in Muslim northern Nigeria in 2000.
More than a dozen Nigerian Muslims have been sentenced to death by stoning and for sexual offences ranging from adultery and homosexuality. But none of these death sentences have actually been carried out as they were either thrown out on appeal or commuted to prison terms as a result of pressure from human rights groups. Many others have been sentenced to flogging by horsewhip for drinking. But there have been two amputations in north-western Zamfara State which pioneered the introduction of the Islamic legal system in the country.
Nigeria, like many African countries, is a conservative society where homosexuality is considered a taboo. The Nigerian parliament has been trying to pass a controversial law introduced by former President Olusegun Obasanjo banning gay rights organisations. Gay activists and some human rights groups have condemned the proposed legislation and called for its rejection. But homosexuality and same sex marriage are illegal in Nigeria and are considered very serious offences.
In April, a woman reportedly fled Nigeria after being accused of organising a polygamous lesbian wedding. She later denied the reports. Two years ago, a Sharia court sentenced a man to six months in prison and fined him $38 for living as a woman for seven years in Kano.
Here is a selection of comments we received about the story:
Davies Udokwu in Lagos, Nigeria wrote: Sharia is the Law in Northern Nigeria so the penalty for homosexuality, which is death, should be meted out on them without fear or favour. Sodomy is an act of insanity which even animals cannot do. The West should stop making an issue out of this and try to change their system to support good morals.
James in California wrote: This is simply another example of a repressive belief system that uses fear, domination, and hatred to control its believers and to impose horrific repression on others. Why does the UN tolerate such violence against gay people or those who are thought to be gay?
Matsiko David wrote: Campaigners of same sex marriage are not different from those cited in Sodom and Gomorrah.
Joseph Lengmang in Plateau, Nigeria, wrote: What I really don’t understand is whether such a punitive yet barbaric measure is permissible by the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria. And if this is not the case, then i think it would amount to a gross abuse of naked force by the champions of shariah law in Northern Nigeria.
John in Rotterdam, Holland, said: It is very sad, to see things like this happen in Nigeria. People getting killed for being a GAY, shame to our so called leaders and also shame to the British. It is all their fault in the first place for making us ONE NIGERIA.
Kenny, a Nigerian in Malaysia said: It is a taboo and it should remain a taboo. They should be killed by hanging. A country can have its own law. I am a christian and i support the sharia law in doing it.
21 August 2007
Concerns Increase for Safety of LGBT in Nigeria, Cameroon, and Uganda
Nigeria, Cameroon, and Uganda Increase Arrests and Threats toward their LGBT Citizens
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) is deeply alarmed by increased violence, arrests, and threats of arrest of gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders in three African nations. In recent weeks, 18 men have been detained in Nigeria, purportedly for cross-dressing, 6 gay men have been arrested in Cameroon on the heels of widely publicized detention and trials last year that prompted United Nations intervention, and Ugandan government officials have joined homophobic religious institutions by calling for the arrests of LGBT activists.
"In each of these countries, LGBT people are challenging the wall of silence around homosexuality and gender identity," said Paula Ettelbrick, IGLHRC Executive Director."And in each country the government has responded with attempts to snuff out their peaceful pleas to be heard."
Teargas had to be used this morning to disperse an angry crowd intent on meting out mob justice against 18 gay men who were arrested in Bauchi State on Sunday, August 5.Bauchi is in Northern Nigeria and is governed by Sharia (Islamic law). The men, all whom are in their twenties, have been charged with "vagrancy," under Article 372 Sec 2(E) of the Bauchi State Islamic code which prohibits cross-dressing and the practice of sodomy. If convicted, the men face a one-year prison sentence and twenty lashes. The men were not wearing women’s clothes at the time of their arrest, according to Joseph Akoro, director of the Independent Project (TIP), a Nigerian LGBT organization.
"This leads us to believe that the charges have been drummed up to incite hatred against gay people in the highly charged environment of our country," said Akoro. The men were guests at a straight wedding party held at Benko Hotel, in Yelwa area of Bauchi. A number of other people were originally detained at the party by the police and by the Hisbah, an Islamic anti-vice squad that works hand-in-hand with the police, but all the women and non-Muslims were all released.
According to IGLHRC’s Research and Policy Associate for West Africa, Joel Nana, who attended the hearing this morning before Alkali (Judge) Malam Kanimi Aboubacar in the Tunda Al Khali Area court, the behavior of the crowd was shocking. "Both the prisoners and their lawyers were dehumanized and attacked by the crowd," said Nana. "It seemed as if these men had already been tried and convicted."
In neighboring Cameroon, despite a 2006 judgment from the United Nations and expressions of concern from the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the government continues to arrest gay men. Six men were jailed last week after a young man who had been arrested on theft charges was coerced by police into naming homosexual friends. "The tactics of the Cameroonian government define the term ‘witch hunt,’" said Cary Alan Johnson, IGLHRC’s Senior Program Officer for Africa. "Imagine being forced to denounce your friends. Imagine finding yourself in prison because your name is on a list."
More than 20 people have been detained in the past two years in Cameroon under Article 347 of the Penal Code, which criminalizes consensual same-sex acts between men, a many have been subjected to trials that have proven to be unfair by international standards. In response to the lengthy imprisonment of 11 men in Yaoundé in 2006, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention declared the arrest of consensual same-sex practicing adults to be arbitrary, and called upon the government to amend Article 347 and "adapt it to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights."
In a letter to the Cameroonian Minister of Justice, Steave Neamande, director of Alternatives-Cameroun, a local LGBT organization, expressed horror at the continued pattern of arrest of gay men in his country, noting that, "hardly a month goes by without reports of the arrests of people because of their sexuality."
IGLHRC is concerned for the safety of leaders and supporters of the LGBT community in the East African nation of Uganda, after senior officials went on the public and private radio stations to call for the arrest of leaders of the country’s LGBT movement this morning. Deputy Attorney General Fred Ruhinde and Minister of Ethics and Integrity Nsaba Butoro, were showing their solidarity with a coalition of conservative Catholic, Protestant, Muslim and Bahai congregations-the Interfaith Coalition Against Homosexuality-that has called for the arrest, deportation, and even murder of gays and lesbians..
LGBT leaders in Uganda, working under the banner of Sexual Minorities of Uganda (SMUG) last week launched the "Let Us Live in Peace Campaign," asking for greater attention to the HIV/AIDS-related needs of LGBT Ugandans and thanking the Ugandan police for helping to reduce anti-LGBT violence. With today’s pronouncements by the government, many LGBT are now in fear of their lives again and have gone into hiding. According to SMUG spokesperson Victor Mukasa, "the goal of the campaign is to reach out to all Ugandans so that people realise we are not something imported from the West. We are the homosexual and transgender children of God. All we ask is that we be allowed to live in peace."
For further information please contact:
Cary Alan Johnson, Senior Africa Specialist,
New York, 1.212.430.605
August has proven to be a perilous months for gays in Nigeria and Cameroon, where large-scale arrests have taken place, and in Uganda, where gay activists have gone into hiding after government ministers this week called for their arrest.
First, in Nigeria:
An anti-gay riot occurred this August 21, after 18 young men appeared in an Islamic court in the sharia state of Bauchi to face charges of cross-dressing in women’s clothes.
"Any male person who dresses in the fashion of a woman in a public place will be liable to a prison term of one year or 30 lashes," Muhamad Muhamad Bununu, head of the Hisbah — an Islamic vice squad that works with the police and patrols neighborhoods to enforce the strict observance of conservative Islamic morals and dress codes — told Agence France-Presse. Bauchi is one of a dozen Muslim-dominated states in northern Nigeria that has adopted Islamic sharia law, including criminal law, since 2000, following the end of the military dictatorship in the country of 140 million people. The decision by these states to adopt sharia law "alienated sizable Christian minorities and sparked bouts of sectarian violence that killed thousands," AFP noted in its Tuesday dispatch. The accused youths, 18 to 22, had originally been arrested on August 4 in a police raid on a wedding party at the Benko Hotel in the Yelwa area of Bauchi, at which the police scooped up 45 people, including women and children — but many of them escaped.
The official Nigerian News Agency initially reported that "the police First Information Report (FIR) described the 18 youths as ‘dressed in women’s fashion practicing sodomy as their profession,’" as the Nigerian daily This Day reported, claiming the accused had gathered at the hotel to celebrate a "gay marriage." The accused "were addressing each other as women and dressing as women," Bununu told Reuters. Most Nigerian media, which are overwhelmingly homophobic, followed the government news agency’s line, and said the young men had been arrested at a "gay wedding" for "sodomy," a crime punishable by stoning to death under the sharia law in force in the dozen Nigerian states which have adopted it. Some Western news agencies, like the Associated Press, also initially said that the 18 had been arrested for "sodomy." But by the time the case got to court this Tuesday, the charges had been reduced, and the 18 were formally indicted "under the idle persons and vagabonds section of sharia law," which also forbids cross-dressing, the Hisbah’s Bununu told Agence France-Presse.
Sharia law requires four witnesses to an act of anal penetration for conviction, so Bununu explained to the French news agency, "For now we can’t charge the men with sodomy because we have to have witnesses to testify." The police brought handbags and suitcases containing women’s high-heel shoes and clothing to this Tuesday’s court hearing as evidence. But Joseph Akoro, director of The Independent Project (TIP), a Nigerian LGBT group, told a representative of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) who was on the scene in Bauchi for the court hearing that the young men were not wearing women’s clothing at the time of their arrest. Moreover, Akoro said, the marriage being celebrated at the hotel was a heterosexual one. "This leads us to believe that the charges have been drummed up to incite hatred against gay people in the highly charged environment of our country," Akoro added, referring to Nigeria’s extraordinarily conservative culture in which both Christians and Muslims revile homosexuality as a taboo, and in which draconian anti-gay legislation had been considered earlier this year by the parliament.
That broad-reaching legislation, which was promoted by its supporters as a ban on gay marriage, was denounced in a May 8 New York Times editorial as "in fact an assault on basic rights of association, assembly, and expression" which would have criminalized and provided stiff prison terms for any association or socializing by gays, any speech or writing about homosexuality that did not condemn it, and any advocacy of human rights for LGBT people. The Times editorial called the bill "poisonous." But Nigerian media hysteria around the Bauchi 18, whose trial, the BBC’s correspondent in that state this week said, has become "a celebrity case," may be the signal that the new government of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, who was elected the country’s head of state in April, intends to revive the anti-gay bill and its omnibus repressions.
That’s the view of IGLHRC’s senior African specialist, Cary Alan Johnson, who told me: "We’d hoped that the bill was dead, and that the government realized that international opinion was mobilized against it. The proposed anti-gay law had been condemned by the European Union, the Italian parliament, four rapporteurs of the United Nations, and even by the U.S. State Department." "Now," Johnson continued, "My fear is that these arrests and the way they are being framed by the Nigerian media— as ‘sodomy’ that occurred at a ‘gay wedding’ at the hotel when neither happened — is being used to prepare the field for the re-introduction of the bill." Asked by this reporter who he thought had informed the police of the presence of so many young gays at the heterosexual wedding, Johnson said it was "probably the Hisbah, which is similar to the vigilante groups in Iran" that target gay people.
At the end of the court hearing this Tuesday, five of the 18 accused were freed after each paying bail of 20,000 Naira (roughly $158). The 13 others who could not make bail were returned to prison. As the five who’d been freed on bail left the courthouse, trying to hide their faces to avoid being recognized or photographed, they were violently attacked by a stone-throwing crowd of mostly young protestors hollering anti-gay epithets. Some of the stones hit not only police but some of the many Nigerian and foreign journalists who’d come to Bauchi for the court hearing. Police had to fire teargas and shots in the air to disperse the angry crowd.
Joel Nana, IGLHRC’s research and policy associate for West Africa — who’d been sent to Bauchi to observe the court proceeding — said the behavior of the crowd was "shocking." Nana, 25, who was a co-founder of the Cameroon LGBT rights group Alternatives Cameroon before going to work for IGLHRC, said, "Both the prisoners and their lawyers were dehumanized and attacked by the crowd — it seemed as if these men had already been tried and convicted." The next court appearance in the prosecution of the Bauchi 18 has been postponed until September 13 "to give the new prosecutor time to familiarize himself with the case," several Nigerian media reported. The Bauchi 18 are being represented by two lawyers from Nigeria’s Legal Reform and Assistance Project, a non-gay human rights group which had been contacted by IGLHRC.
"It’s one of the positive developments that we’ve been able to develop straight allies in Nigeria who recognize that LGBT rights are an integral part of the human rights fight," IGLHRC’s Johnson told me. But the Nigerian daily This Day reported that one of the defense lawyers, Barrister Ralph Moye, had to ask for an interpreter, as the court proceedings were conducted in Hausa, and he is non-Hausa speaking. English is Nigeria’s official language, but nine major dialects, including Hausa, are widely spoken in different areas of the country.
In Cameroon, six teenagers have been jailed without trial since July 30 on charges of homosexuality following police use of torture to make other youths "name names" of their gay friends in Douala, the country’s largest city with a population estimated at more than 2 million. In Cameroon, homosexuality is a crime punishable by up to five years in prison. Three adolescents had been taken to the police commissariat in Douala’s Bonassama district because they had allegedly stolen something from the house of the parents of one of them. But while the young trio was at the commissariat, one of them received a text message on his cell phone that police said indicated he was involved in a homosexual relationship, according to a report prepared by Sebastien Mandeng, human rights coordinator for Alternatives Cameroon, the group IGLHRC’s Nana had founded. "The police, who used a mixture of coercion, torture, and promises of liberty, forced the adolescents to admit their homosexuality and sign a transcript of that admission— but also to reveal the identity of the six other gay teenagers, who were then arrested," said Mandeng’s report. "The police ambushed those who‘d been named — they called the six boys and got them to come to a rendezvous, and when they showed up they were arrested."
Activist Mandeng said that the police refused to give him any information when he showed up at the commissariat to inquire about the arrested youths and sought to meet with them, but he managed to speak to them from outside the jail through a window of the cell where they were being held, thus learning their identities and what had happened to them. After being held for 10 days in the Bonassama commissariat — more then the three days of detention allowed by law if no indictment has come down – the six teenagers were transferred to Douala’s New Bell Prison, where they are still being held, without trial and without being afforded legal counsel. Commenting on the imprisoned, teenaged Douala 6, IGLHRC’s Johnson said, "The tactics of the Cameroonian government define the term ‘witch hunt.’ Imagine being forced to denounce your friends. Imagine finding yourself in prison because your name is on a list." In a letter to Cameroon’s minister of Justice, Alternatives Cameroon’s Steave Neamande denounced the continued pattern of arrests of gay men in his country, noting, "Hardly a month goes by without reports of the arrests of people because of their sexuality." (For extensive background on the dire situation facing LGBTs in Cameroon and interviews with leading activists, see this reporter’s November 2-8, 2006 Gay City News article, "U.N. Condemns Cameroon Jailings,")
In Uganda, most of that nation’s small group of LGBT activists went into hiding this week following calls for their arrest by Deputy Attorney General Fred Ruhinde and Minister of Ethics and Integrity Nsaba Butoro. Speaking on the Radio One public radio and other private radio stations, the two high government officials, in demanding that the activists be jailed, demonstrated their solidarity with a church-led anti-gay rally Aug. 21, which Butoro attended. Held at a Kampala rugby field, the rally was organized by the Interfaith Coalition Against Homosexuality, an alliance of Christian, Muslim, and Baha’i congregations. At the rally, which drew several hundred people, the anti-gay protesters carried dozens of placards ranging from "Arrest all homos" to "God loves homos, he hates homosexuality," Reuters reported.
Other placards called for the firing and deportation of Katherine Roubos, a 22-year-old U.S. intern at the local independent newspaper Daily Monitor, for reporting on the experiences of gays in Uganda. "Aga Khan, fire Katherine Roubos, homo propagandist," one said, while another read: "Government deport Roubos." The Daily Monitor is part of the regional Nation Media Group partly owned by the Aga Khan, spiritual leader of more than 15 million Shia Ismaili Muslims worldwide. He is visiting Uganda, which is a predominately Christian country with a Muslim minority. The anti-gay rally was designed as a response to the launch of a pro-gay media campaign at an August 17 press conference, the first-ever held by Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), a coalition of four LGBT groups headed for the last several years by Victor Juliet Mukasa, a transgendered lesbian and one of the few LGBT activists willing to speak in public. A number of the seven panelists at the SMUG press conference wore elaborate masks to conceal their identities (right, a masked panelist at the SMUG press conference in Kampala)
Mukasa was forced to flee into exile in South Africa in fear of her life after police raided her home two years ago, seized SMUG materials, and forced a friend to strip to prove she was really a woman. Mukasa has now returned to Uganda to pursue a civil lawsuit against the nation’s attorney general who authorized the raid on her home. (For background, see this reporter’s September 14-20, 2006 Gay City News article, "Uganda Witch Hunt Escalates.") Roubros’ Daily Monitor article on the SMUG press conference reported that participants said "police have repeatedly demanded sexual favors or personal bribes in exchange for release from custody. ‘This is not protecting Ugandans, said a man wearing a mask and a name card with the alias ‘Douglas.’ ‘This is not protecting Ugandans, it is threatening people for profit. This is certainly not within the law,’ exclaimed Douglas."
Roubos, a Stanford University student, denied campaigning for gays, saying she was simply doing her work. "I was assigned a story by the editor and I did it objectively. My job is to report on events, not my personal opinions," she told Reuters. Uganda’s laws prescribe prison terms for consensual homosexuality ranging from five years to life imprisonment.
August 26, 2007
Mob Tries To Lynch Men Awaiting Sentencing For Homosexuality
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
Lagos – A mob attempted to break into a prison in northern Nigeria on Saturday and lynch 18 men awaiting sentencing on morals charges that state controlled NAN news agency reports. One prison official was injured as guards fended off the angry crowd. Sentences for the 18 were to have been handed down last week by a Sharia court in the Moslem state of Bauchi. They were arrested wearing women’s clothing at a hotel where police say they had gathered for the wedding "of two men". An attorney for the men said they were at the hotel for a "graduation party". The 18 were convicted of sodomy earlier this month but last week the judge reduced that violating Islamic law by dressing in female garb when it could not be proved any sex had occurred.
Sodomy carries a maximum sentence of death. When the prosecutor said he would not seek the death penalty the judge said he would need time to consider an appropriate sentence. (story) The 18 will be back in court September 13. Five of the men were able to make bail. The others remain in custody/ NAN reports that the mob was angry that the charge was reduced. Whether the men are gay or transsexual has not been fully explained by authorities. The government frequently alleges that men arrested for being gay were dressed as women and were attending or preparing to attend gay weddings. More than a dozen men have been sentenced to death in recent years for alleged homosexuality. In most cases their fate is unknown. Officially the government denies there have been any executions.
Meanwhile, the government is moving ahead with legislation that would strip gays and lesbians of all civil rights. The bill started out as a ban on same-sex marriage and has been revised to make it a crime for more than two gay people to be in the same venue at the same time. It prohibits LGBT social or civil rights groups from forming. It would be illegal to sell or rent property to same-sex couples, watch a gay film or video, visit an LGBT web site, or express same-sex love in a letter to one’s partner. The legislation goes so far as to make it a criminal offense to impart information of HIV/AIDS to gays or for non-gays to meet with any group of gays for any purpose.
The penalty would be five years in prison with hard labor. The most recent arrests have sparked outrage in Britain and is likely to scuttle Nigeria’s bid to host the Commonwealth Games in 2014. The southern half of Nigeria is predominantly Anglican. The primate of the Nigerian Church is Archbishop Peter Akinola who has been at the forefront of opposing gay clergy in the denomination. Conservative Anglican churches in the US have aligned themselves with Akinola.
Agence France Presse
August 25, 2007
Lagos, Nigeria – Mob in northern Nigeria attacks prison, injures official
Angry demonstrators have injured a prison official in northern Nigerian Bauchi state in an attempt to lynch suspected homosexuals being held in custody, official news agency NAN said Saturday. The prison chief, Mohammed Nata’ala, was quoted by NAN as saying the unnamed official was injured while preventing the mob from forcing their way into the prison late Friday. The demonstrators were said to be protesting the substitution of the charge against the suspects from sodomy, which carries the death penalty under the Islamic sharia code, to idleness. The sharia penal code was adopted in Bauchi and other states in Muslim northern Nigeria eight years ago following the end of military rule.
The suspects, 18 in all, were arrested on August 4 in a hotel in Bauchi for wearing women’s clothing and allegedly attempting to conduct a gay marriage. But a judge granted them bail on August 21 after the prosecution had substituted the charge of sodomy with idleness, which carries one-year imprisonment. Five of the men who satisfied the bail conditions, including payment of 20,000 naira (156 dollars, 114 euros), were released pending the resumption of the case on September 13. The remaining 13, who have not yet satisfied bail conditions, were sent back to the Bauchi prison after appearing in court.
As the suspects left court, the crowd hurled insults at them and pelted them with stones, some of which hit police and journalists covering the trial. Police fired into the air and used tear gas to restore order.
10 August 2007
18 gay Nigerians remanded
by staff writer
A Sharia judge in Nigeria’s north-eastern state of Bauchi, Malam Tanimu, ordered the remand in prison of 18 suspected gay Nigerians. The men will be stoned to death if they are found guilty by the Shariah courts. The men reportedly hailed from a neighbouring state. Dressed like women, they stormed Bauchi to celebrate a gay wedding. The State Prosecutor, Tadius Boboi, said the men acted against Sharia, a system governing Bauchi and other Muslim-dominated northern Nigerian states. Since the introduction of Sharia in Nigeria seven years back, a dozen of Muslims have been sentenced to death by stoning for committing adultery or sodomy. However, no single person was stoned to death. But two thieves in the north-western Zamfara State, the origin of Nigeria’s Sharia, have had their hands amputated.
One Nigerian man was convicted by a Sharia court in Kano to six months in prison after he was found guilty of imitating women’s way of life for years. Efforts to outlaw gay rights organisations in Nigeria had met the rock during the days of Obasanjo. Mounting pressures from human and gay rights groups, criticising the government of not being sensitive to the rights of all its citizens. But the fact of the matter is that same sex affairs or marriages are still kept under the carpet in Nigeria. A woman who was accused of trying to arrange lesbian weddings fled the country.
Last year, South Africa became the fifth country in the world to legalise same sex marriages. But lesbians and gays have since been battling with the society to accept them instead of physically attacking or cursing them.
9th November 2007
Nigeria loses out on Commonwealth Games
by Tony Grew
Glasgow will host the 2014 Commonwealth Games, it was announced today. Scotland’s largest city beat a bid from the Nigerian city of Abuja by 47 votes to 24 at a meeting of the Games voting nations in Sri Lanka. Gay activists in Nigeria had questioned whether that country should be allowed to host the Games because of its "systematic persecution of lesbian and gay Nigerians." First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond told the BBC: "We will make these games the greatest sporting event our country has ever seen. "They will be our chance to show the whole world the very best of Scotland."
In August a delegation led by Davis Mac-Iyalla, founder and leader of the gay Christian group, Changing Attitude Nigeria, met with the chief executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) in London to put their case. They presented the CGF with an 11-page report setting out why it should reject the bid by the Nigerian city of Abuja to host the 2014 Games. The Commonwealth Games was founded under its original name, the British Empire Games, in 1930. They are held every four years, giving around 5,000 athletes from the Commonwealth of Nations the chance to compete. The Commonwealth Games Federation constitution dictates that "there shall be no discrimination against any country or person on any grounds whatsoever including race, colour, gender, religion or politics" in Article 7.
The CGF website also claims that "Underlying every decision made by the CGF are three core values – humanity, equality and destiny." Nigerian law directly contradicts this, stating that anyone who has "carnal knowledge of any person against order of nature or permits a male to have carnal knowledge of him" can be imprisoned for 14 years. "I would love an African country to host the games, but not Nigeria," said Peter Tatchell, who accompanied Changing Attitude Nigeria when they met with the chief executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation. Awarding Abjua the games would have rewarded bad governance, grave social injustices and the denial of civil rights to millions of Nigerians. Nigeria should be offered the 2018 Games, on the condition that within the next three years it makes serious progress on eradicating corruption, election fraud and human rights violations."
18th February 2008
March date for Sharia "gay" trial in Nigeria
by Tony Grew
The trial of eighteen young men in Nigeria charged with dressing in female clothing and attending a gay wedding may be part of a campaign to reintroduce legislation targeting lesbian, gay and bisexual people. Cary Alan Johnson of the Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) was in Nigeria last week to meet the men and their lawyers. He has expressed serious doubts as to whether the men can get a fair trial. All aged between 18 and 21, they were detained by the Islamic "vice squad" at a hotel in Bauchi city, Nigeria in August 2007. Bauchi is a Muslim state in the centre of Nigeria, with a population of 316,000. Sharia law is enforced in the state and if found guilty of sodomy the men could be executed.
They instead face charges of criminal conspiracy, membership of an unlawful society, indecent acts, and "vagabondage", which relates to the allegation they were dressed in female attire. They face to up to ten years imprisonment and more than 100 lashes and a charge of sodomy could be instituted at any time, according to IGLHRC. The man are on bail, having spent 19 days in jail, and are due to appear in court again on March 24th. The men deny that they were dressed in female clothing or that they were organising or attending a gay wedding. They argue that the event was a combination birthday/graduation party for a local man (who was not present at the time of the raid and has not been arrested) and the celebration of the marriage of his sister.
"These men are being railroaded by the authorities," said Mr Johnson. "Contradicting their own statements, the police first said that the men were all dressed in women’s clothing, then that articles of female clothing and cosmetics were found in their belongings, which somehow proves that they were engaging in same sex marriage and homosexuality. The rhetoric of the police and court authorities are confusing, at best, and attempt to incite the public against the young men by conflating the concepts of ‘homosexuality,’ ‘cross-dressing’ and ‘gay marriage’."
The case has received considerable press attention in Nigeria. Bauchi state has already convicted three people to death by stoning for sexual offences and an agency who oversee the implementation of Sharia law is pressing for the sentences to be carried out. In Nigeria, the governor in a Muslim state must give his approval for some of the harsher penalties handed down by Sharia courts, such as execution or amputation. Predominantly Muslim states in Nigeria introduced Sharia law, a legal system based on Islamic theory and philosophy of justice, in 2000. In reality the re-introduction of harsh punishments apart from the death penalty has been the main feature of sharia courts.
In Bauchi state alone there are 40 people awaiting amuputation of one or both hands for theft. "The arrests maybe part of the state government’s campaign to reintroduce a remarkably dangerous anti-homosexuality bill," IGLHRC said in a statement. "Last year, the Nigerian National Assembly debated the "Bill for an Act to make provisions for the prohibition of sexual relationship between persons of the same-sex, celebration of marriage by them and for other matters connected herewith," commonly referred to as the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act of 2006. The bill criminalises same-sex marriage as well as the "registration of gay clubs, societies and organisations by whatever name they are called" and any "publicity, procession and public show of same-sex amorous relationship through the electronic or print media physically, directly, indirectly or otherwise. After effective advocacy by the consortium of local, national and international partners, the Assembly failed to bring the bill for a final vote and with the dissolution of the legislature it died, pending potential reintroduction. Even though it did not pass, the bill has served as an incitement to violence and discrimination against LGBT individuals, and more generally, toward individuals whose behaviours do not fit within typical sexual or gender norms.
27th February 2008
African lesbian conference demands equal rights
by PinkNews.co.uk staff writer
Lesbians from across Africa have held a conference in Mozambique to highlight the homophobia and prejudice they face across the continent. Most nations in Africa criminalise same-sex relationships and in some countries gay people can be put to death. The Coalition of African Lesbians conference was attended by more than 100 delegates.
Women from 14 African countries gathered in Namibia’s capital Windhoek in August 2004 to develop the Coalition of African Lesbians. Lesbian organisations and a number of individual women from Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa, Mozambique and Namibia are members of the organisation. "Our main goal is that lesbian and homosexuality can no longer be seen as a criminal offence," the group’s director and conference spokeswoman Fikile Vilakazi told Reuters. "You should not be arrested and charged for how you use your own body."
The coalition lobbies for political, legal social, sexual, cultural and economic rights of African lesbians by engaging strategically with African and international structures and allies and to eradicate stigma and discrimination against lesbians. South Africa, one of the few countries on the continent where gay men and lesbians are allowed to marry and legally protected from discrimination, has been rocked by several murders of prominent lesbian activists.
Sizakele Sigasa, 34, an activist for HIV/AIDS and LGBT rights, and Salome Masooa, 24, were discovered dead at field in Soweto, Johannesburg, on July 8th. They had both been shot and, it is suspected, raped.
On 22nd July Thokozane Qwabe, 23, was found in a field in Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal with multiple head wounds. She was naked and it is thought she was also raped.
March 21, 2008
Gay Nigeria Christian Leader Narrowly Escapes Death in Brutal Attack, Changing Attitude calls on the Primate and bishops of the Church of Nigeria to condemn attacks on gays
Lagos – A shocking story of mob violence has emerged which almost culminated in the death of one of the leaders of the Changing Attitude Nigeria (CAN) group in Port Harcourt. The violent attack occurred at the funeral ceremony held yesterday for the sister of Davis Mac-Iyalla, attended by six members of the Port Harcourt group on Thursday 20 March 2008. Attacked was the CAN Port Harcourt leader who is not being named.
“I am in total shock and living in fear while feeling the pains,” the victim said. “I suffered in the hands of a mob group that attacked me at the Service of Songs for Davis’s late sister. While hymn singing was going on a muscular man walked up to me and asked me for a word outside the compound. The next thing I saw was a mob group who were there to attack me. They started slapping and punching me, kicked me on the ground and spat on me. I have never known fear like I knew when they were brutalizing me. I thought they were going to kill me there and then. While beating me they were shouting: ‘You notorious homosexual, you think can run away from us for your notorious group to cause more abomination in our land?’ Those who attacked me were well informed about us so I suspect an insider or one of the leaders of our Anglican church have hands in this attack,” he added.
Davis Mac-Iyalla, Director of Changing Attitude Nigeria, learning of the attack, said: “Please hold the Port-Harcourt group in your prayers as we seek Gods guidance on this ugly and sad period of testing in our life.” Speaking from Devizes in Wiltshire, England, Colin Coward, the director of Changing Attitude called on the Church of Nigeria to denounce the attack.
“The attack on one of the CAN leaders in Port Harcourt is a terrifying indictment of the attitude of the Church of Nigeria to LGBT people. Violence against LGBT people has been encouraged by Archbishop Peter Akinola and the leaders of the Church of Nigeria. They have attacked the presence of LGBT in church and society, and supported a bill which would reinforce prejudice against LGBT people. Changing Attitude calls on the Church of Nigeria to denounce violence against LGBT people. We challenge the leaders of the global south coalition to repent of their un-Biblical views which fuel prejudice against LGBT people in our Communion.
In a statement, Changing Attitude Nigeria said: “The thugs who attacked the Port Harcourt leader told him: ‘We will not rest until we silence you and any who join you to pollute the land with the abominable act of homosexuality. You are perverts who go around corrupting and inducting young people into our evil society. We will kill you and it will be a favour to the country. Nigeria will not contain you or any other person that practises homosexuality’.
April 17, 2008
Nigeria: Hotbed of Homophobic Violence
by Scott Stiffler, EDGE Contributor
Even in Africa–a continent not known for its gay-friendly cultures or governments—Nigeria stands out for the virulence and violence against gay men in particular as well as lesbians. The cultural residue of colonial occupation, political maneuvering, encouraged by the country’s influential Christian and Muslim faiths, makes Nigeria one of the most challenging African nations in which to live openly as a homosexual. A federal republic whose 36 states and capital territory are home to over 140 million people, Nigeria’s current leader is Umaru Musa Yar’Adu, whose April, 2007 election to a four-year term was characterized by a U.S. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor report as "marred by massive fraud, vote rigging and political violence." That report also noted "government officials at all levels" committing abuses, including "politically motivated killings by security forces, arbitrary arrest and prolonged pretrial detention" as well as "restrictions on speech, press, assembly, religion and movement." Homosexuality, illegal under federal law, is punishable by up to 14 years in prison. In northern Muslim states, which observe Sharia law, those found guilty of homosexual intercourse can receive death by stoning.
Authorization by the governor is required for a sentence to be carried out. While this has yet to happen, convicted homosexuals can expect to spend the rest of their lives on Death Row. In the Christian-dominated south, things are not much better. "The real threat of death or serious injury is not from legal actions by the state, but from mob violence and unofficial actions by the police who are a law unto themselves," says Davis Mac-Iyalla, Director of Changing Attitude Nigeria. "In that way, there is very little difference between North and South." Mac-Iyalla, currently living in exile, emphasizes another troublesome similarity between the Christian south and a Muslim north: "One of the few common perspectives between Islam and popular Christianity in Nigeria is a hatred of homosexuality."
Rev. Pat Bumgardner, global justice ministry chair of the MCC Church (one of the few U.S. organizations on the ground in Nigeria), observes, "Even if there weren’t a Christian-Muslim split, the situation would still be complicated by the fact that the primary religious voices are fundamentalist." The MCC, a Protestant denomination that was founded to be gay friendly, is fighting, as Bumgardner puts it, "to put a different face on religion and say fundamentalists don’t represent people of all faith. It is possible to be Christian and gay and believe that is good." MCC works mostly in the capital, the sprawling city of Lagos. Its House of Rainbow is a community of very young gay men, for whom MCC offers a spiritual home and a safe space to be themselves "in a country where just to exist is a criminal act and punishable in some very extreme ways." House of Rainbow also serves as a hiding place where LGBT Nigerians receive counseling and support from others who are gay.
Those attempting to live openly face hostile society and laws. They’ve become political footballs for various forces, especially Peter Akinola, the Anglican archbishop of Nigeria. Akinola recently served as president of the Christian Association of Nigeria, the umbrella group for most of the churches of Nigeria. Now, Akinola is aligning himself with anti-gay Episcopalians in the U.S. and is starting a breakaway denomination. Mike Hersee of Changing Attitude Nigeria, believes Akinola is using the issue of homosexuality: "It’s power dressed up as morality." Hersee notes that Akinola’s power grab is happening in a place where "religion holds much greater sway than it does in more developed countries. This influences all levels of society, including politics."
Christians & Muslims United in Hate
Homosexuality also serves as a rare source of agreement between Islam and Christianity. Hersee describes both religions, as practiced in Nigeria, as being "particularly hard on homosexuality as a convenient way of bonding between Nigerians across the whole country, and also as a way of maintaining the appearance of being vigilant against destructive forces." A Sept. 7, 2007, report from the German journal Gay Republic Daily, recounted how the newly appointed Bishop Orama of Uyo described gay people as "insane, satanic and not fit to live." He only claimed it to be a misreporting of what was actually said several days after the Archbishop of Canterbury stepped in to condemn the comments. Mac-Iyalla believes Uyo only refuted his comments because of the unexpected furor they created outside Nigeria. This incident is typical of how homosexuality is, according to Hersee, "always attacked by religious authorities, and in turn by government and ordinary people." Thus there is much more threat to an ordinary quiet life of someone gay or lesbian in Nigeria than in most other African countries. When people know, it becomes necessary to act outraged.
Religious doctrine, as practiced in particular by the Anglican Church, seems inexplicably linked to political agenda. For Mac-Iyalla, that eventually led to a quick exit from the country he was trying to unite. In 2003, Mac-Iyalla was serving as headmaster of an Anglican school. After the death of Bishop Ugede, he was fired by church authorities who had learned of his homosexuality. Mac-Iyalla then founded Changing Attitude Nigeria, which, Hersee notes, "existed originally to challenge Anglican Church of Nigeria by initiating a listening process that had been agreed to at the last Anglican Lambeth Conference, and to demonstrate to those who claim that there are no gay people in Africa that there are and always have been, as well as challenging their perceptions of gay people from misreading the Bible." Archbishop Akinola effectively blocked Changing Attitude Nigeria’s goal of fostering understanding and acceptance. On the church’s website, he accused Ma-Iyalla of various criminal activities, such as defrauding a dying bishop and obtaining church documents by deception.
Unemployable and receiving death threats, Mac-Iyalla was smuggled out of the country to Togo, where he now lives. Changing Attitude Nigeria did have some success, though, when Abuja was bidding to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Mac-Iyalla, Hersee and British activist Peter Tatchell produced "Abuja’s Bid-Sins of Omission."
The report meticulously detailed how the behaviors and planned laws of the Nigerian government were in flagrant breech of established human rights agreements. It put an international spotlight on Nigeria and was discussed at the highest levels. The government did temporarily back down a little on its virulent homophobia and took control of it in Buchi State, where 18 men were arrested when the police raided at a private party. At every successive hearing, they keep postponing it, however. The men are still in jail. Such rough justice weighs heavily on those who flee the country. "Anyone who is found out to be returning to Nigeria because they have failed to gain asylum on the grounds of homosexuality is essentially walking into an execution chamber." Mac-Iyalla says. They will be known to the authorities."
Mac-Iyalla asserts that the homophobia which permeates Nigerian culture is a byproduct of colonial rule: "It’s ironic that Britain, who was primarily responsible for instigating the legal, religious and cultural intolerance of homosexuality in Nigeria in places where there was previously tolerance, is condemning people to return to the environment with the kind of lethal intolerance it has itself now rejected as being inhuman."
Incidents of Homophobic Violence
Although prosecutions for incidents of anti-gay violence are virtually unheard of, those accused of homosexual acts are frequently taken into custody and held on the basis of nothing more than suspicion. Hersee says this terror campaign has transformed Nigeria into a place where no one–including or especially police–does anything to help victims of anti-gay attacks. In Lagos, for example, Omotayo Joshuah was attacked by a gang saying they were "cleansing" Lagos of homosexuals. He was able to tell his mother why he was attacked before he died of his injuries. But no one has made any effort to find his murderers. Hersee also cites a 2005 case that occurred in Katsina, a northern Nigerian state that imposes Sharia law. Accused of sex after they were seen leaving public toilets together, the men were jailed for six months. The police said they could not find any witnesses, but the Sharia court repeatedly gave them more time to come up with witnesses. These men were lucky: They eventually were freed due to lack of evidence, Hersee believes such an incident–one of many such– "reveals a completely twisted legal system where a flimsily perception of homosexuality leads to the court doing its best to provoke the police into coming up with evidence suitable for conviction and potentially stoning to death."
Not only do church and state work against gay men and lesbians, but so do blood relations. "A lot of people have been abused and reportedly tortured at the hands of their own families," Bumgardner observes. "A young man was turned over by his father to his uncle, who imprisoned him on a military compound and tortured him trying to get him to profess heteronormativity." A similar attempt at conversion occurred in Port Harcourt, where five lesbians were raped by a gang of boys who said they were "curing" them of homosexuality.
Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act
Much of the current tension can be traced back to 2006,when Nigeria’s Minister of Justice, Bayo Ojo, proposed the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act to Parliament. The bill would have given a compulsory five-year prison sentence to anyone involved a homosexual relationship, as well as restricting any from assembling, organizing, or participating in same-sex marriage ceremonies. The bill only failed on a technicality when Parliament disbanded its session. It was brought up again in 2007. Scott Long, director, LGBT Rights Program, Human Rights Watc recalls how "Parliament announced February 12 they were going to hold hearings on it Feb. 14. A few gay and human-rights activists were able to go to Abuja, testify at the hearings and show a different voice. Partly because of their visibility, the bill died in Parliament and was never brought to the floor for a vote before Parliament was disbanded for the national elections.
The public debate "caused a noticeable increase in violence against LGBT people," Hersee says. "The fact that it was being introduced by the Government gave people with a tendency to violence and a dislike of LGBT people the feeling that there would be de facto immunity from prosecution for attacking gay people." He also believes that Archbishop Akinola was one of the main instigators of the bill. Hersee likens this collusion between the Legislature and the church to the situation in nearby Cameroon, where "a correspondent of mine described government as being the police force of the church. In Nigeria, both Christianity and Islam have comparable influence to that description in their own areas of the country." Although Parliament ultimately declined to pass the bill, Lagos State approved almost identical legislation.
How We Can Help
We can do something to help this dire situation. Bumgardner emphasizes the importance of taking "a non-imperialist approach and know that anything we do will be paid for by the people on the ground in Nigeria." That means choosing words and actions carefully so as not to put gay Nigerians into further jeopardy. MCC has sent people there just to eyewitness the experience and provide some financial support for the community. But otherwise, Bumgardner says, they "say OK, you articulate the strategy and tell us where we fit in." Backing up Bumgardner’s assertion about perceived "imperialist" interference, Long adds, "This is an issue couched in Nigeria as us versus the west. The more they see this as pressure from outside, the more the government and the Christians will become resistant."
Change is far more likely to come from the cumulative effect of international efforts that shine a light on systemic mistreatment as opposed to defending their orientation. "Nigeria is a new democracy," Long warns. "they’re sensitive about their human rights record. If they understand this is an issue of sex, they’re not going to listen." Also the U.S. needs to step up pressure. "Our government could influence change in the world in terms of queer rights being seen as human rights, but it has been notably silent on that front," Bumgardner complains. "We should not underestimate the import of local city councils to pass resolutions calling on the Nigerian government to decriminalize queer existence; certainly ambassadors to Nigeria are important, as is striving to make contact with consulates and high commissions."
Long encourages people to contact Nigerian feminist and human rights groups. "They’re in a dangerous situation and have shown tremendous courage," he says. There’s also Increase Nigeria (a sexual rights group in the north) and LEDAT (Legal Dissents and Assistance). Ultimately, social change may take a backseat to economic change. "When economic situations tend to promote greater freedom of thought, the power of religion begins to weaken and it becomes easier for even believers to belong to a church while fundamentally disagreeing with some of the major points of doctrine," Mac-Iyalla points out. "This ultimately leads to greater freedom of thought and acceptance of individual diversity."
Scott Stiffler is a New York City based writer and comedian who has performed stand-up, improv, and sketch comedy. His solo shows include Damaged by the 70s and An Evening With Insane Mark Twain & Dead Bette Davis. He must eat twice his weight in fish every day, or he becomes radioactive.
June 20, 2008
Nigerian Archbishop claims there is "no hope" for Anglican communion
by Tony Grew
A group of senior Anglican clergy are gathering in Israel for a conference on the future of the church as one of their leaders claimed the unified communion is effectively dead. The Global Anglican Future Conference starts on Sunday. A pre-summit meeting in Jordan moved locations when one of its chief organisers, Archbishop of Nigeria Peter Akinola, was refused entry into the country. More than 1,000 Anglican leaders, including 280 bishops from 35 countries, are expected to attend. GAFCON’s attendees are from the hardline anti-gay wing of the church and there has already been open discussion of a schism or irreversible split in the Anglican communion over gay issues. Yesterday Archbishop Akinola declared the communion dead.
The GAFCON book, The Way, The Truth and the Life will be released in Jerusalem before the conference opens. It can be downloaded here. The 94-page volume "provides the theological and historical foundation for the movement of orthodox Anglicans." "There is no longer any hope, therefore, for a unified communion," Archbishop Akinola states in The Way, The Truth and the Life.
"The intransigence of those who reject Biblical authority continues to obstruct our mission, and it now seems that the Communion is being forced to choose between following their innovations or continuing on the path that the Church has followed since the time of the Apostles. We have made enormous efforts since 1997 in seeking to avoid this crisis, but without success. Now we confront a moment of decision. If we fail to act, we risk leading millions of people away from the faith revealed in the Holy Scriptures and also, even more seriously, we face the real possibility of denying our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ."
Archbishop Akinola is one of those leading the charge against gay people being ordained as priests or the blessing of gay relationships. He said that only "repentance and reversal by these North American provinces may yet save our communion." The worldwide Anglican church has been sharply divided since 2003 when a diocese in the 2.4 million-strong US Episcopal Church consecrated Gene Robinson as the first openly gay bishop.
Robert Duncan, Bishop of Pittsburgh, today released the text of his opening plenary address to the leadership GAFCON. "We who are gathered here recognise that we are at a turning point in Anglican history, a place where two roads diverge," he is expected to say. "One road is faithful to Jesus’ story. The other road is about some other story. The choice before us is a choice before all Anglicans. It is just as certainly a choice before the upcoming Lambeth Conference. Which road will the Anglican communion take? The Anglican Way of the mid-seventeenth to mid-twentieth centuries is collapsing. The present crisis in the Anglican communion, like the positive and hopeful purpose of this GAFCON pilgrimage, points to the need for some new settlement of Anglicanism."
GAFCON’s organisers have attempted to portray the six-day conference as an alternative to the Lambeth Conference to be held in Canterbury between 16th July and 4th August. The once a decade the Lambeth gathering is supposed to bring together the 800 leaders of the Anglican church from around the world. The row over the stance of evangelical and traditionalist bishops in the Anglican church worldwide over gay issues has exposed a deep division in the communion. The 2008 gathering has been dominated before it has even begun by fights about the place of gay and lesbian people in the Anglican church. The Global South group of Anglican church leaders, which includes many African bishops, decided last year that it will boycott the conference and attend GAFCON.
As many as 120 bishops out of the 800 invited will not attend Lambeth unless the American part of the Anglican church repudiates its current accepting attitude towards gay clergy and relationships. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has said that 70% of bishops had already accepted invitations to attend. He indicated in 2006 that he did not want to discuss human sexuality issues at the conference, emphasising training matters instead. However at the launch event in January he said one day would be given over to discussions of gay issues. "To those bishops who do not wish to attend, I recognise their absolute right to choose in good faith and in conscience whether or not they can be there," Archbishop Williams said. "I shall be delighted to see more rather than fewer bishops there, that is their choice, but the door is open."
The recent marriage of Bishop Robinson in New Hampshire to his partner and the blessing of the civil partnership of two gay Anglican priests in a London church have both ensured that the place of gay people in the Anglican church will be the main topic of conversation at both GAFCON and Lambeth.
July 4, 2008
Nigerian gay rights campaigner freed from asylum detention centre
by Tony Grew
Davis Mac-Iyalla, a leader of the gay Christian and gay rights movement in Nigeria, was arrested and incarcerated in Oakington asylum detention centre in Cambridgeshire earlier this week. He has now been released and will be able to speak at Pride London tomorrow about the situation in Nigeria. "After an intensive lobbying campaign for his release over the last two days, the Home Office has relented and set free Mr Mac-Iyalla," said human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell. "I am delighted that the Home Office has finally seen sense and released him. But he was only freed because he has lots of supporters and a first-class solicitor, Abigale Evans of Wilson and Co. Many gay asylum seekers are not so lucky. They end up in detention for months. Davis should never have been detained in the first place. Treating a victim of homophobic persecution like a common criminal is outrageous."
Mr Mac-Iyalla is claiming ayslum in the UK. "I believe it is too dangerous for him to go back to Nigeria – or to the neighbouring countries," said Mr Tatchell. "Long before he considered the option of asylum, I was aware of the abuses and threats that Mr Mac-Iyalla has experienced: his arrest, imprisonment and torture by the police in Abuja in 2005; his inability to attend his sister’s funeral in March this year due to fear of assassination; the threats to kill him made by assailants who attacked his CAN colleague in Port Harcourt in the same month; and the violent assault on him in Lome, Togo, also in March.
Since March 2008, Mr Mac-Iyalla has received email and text messages threatening to kill him. They originate from Nigeria. This pattern of escalating threats and attacks make it unsafe for Mr Mac-Iyalla to return to Nigeria. Mr Mac-Iyalla, 36, is the leader of Changing Attitude Nigera, a group that works for equality for lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) members of the Anglican Communion. CAN also promotes a wider LGBT human rights agenda in Nigeria, campaigning, for instance, against the Nigerian government’s bid in 2006 to outlaw same-sex marriage and ban gay organisations, churches, helplines, counselling groups, meetings and newspapers.
July 28, 2008
Nigerian activist granted asylum in the UK
by Tony Grew
Davis Mac-Iyalla, a leader of the gay Christian movement in Nigeria, has been granted asylum in the UK. Mr Mac-Iyalla, 36, is the leader of Changing Attitude Nigeria, a group that works for equality for lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) members of the Anglican Communion. CAN also promotes a wider LGBT human rights agenda in Nigeria, campaigning, for instance, against the Nigerian government’s bid in 2006 to outlaw same-sex marriage and ban on gay organisations, churches, helplines, counselling groups, meetings and newspapers.
Davis Mac-Iyalla said today: "The people I wish to thank include the UK government and the Home Office, Islington MP Jeremy Corbyn, my solicitor Abigail Evans of Wilson and Co, the Reverend Stephen Coles, the Reverend Colin Coward and the trustees of Changing Attitude, Peter Tatchell of OutRage!, Sebastian Rocca of UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group, Erika Baker, Susan Strong, Mike Hersee, Julian Batson, Inclusive Church and others too numerous to mention. Your support in different ways has been absolutely invaluable, not just for me but for our common goals. I’m very grateful to the UK government for granting me asylum. It means I will have an opportunity to continue working for the full inclusion of LGBT people in the Anglican church in Nigeria.
"My heart really goes out to my LGBT brothers and sisters still trapped in Nigeria. They are intimated and threatened by the increasingly hostile and violent environment against them, fuelled by the hostility of Archbishop Akinola and his fellow bishops – who claim that we don’t really exist, and if we do then we are the spawn of the devil. It is impossible to have a rational debate in such a climate of hatred coming from what is supposed to be a loving church. I think Jesus would be appalled at how low the Anglican Church of Nigeria has sunk by straying so far from his message of love and forgiveness that it does the complete opposite. If the Anglican Church of Nigeria and the Nigerian government had a more open-minded and understanding attitude, then people like me would not need asylum in the first place."
Mr Mac-Iyalla was arrested, imprisoned and tortured by the police in Abuja in 2005. Since March 2008, Mr Mac-Iyalla has received email and text messages threatening to kill him. They originate from Nigeria. This pattern of escalating threats and attacks made it unsafe for Mr Mac-Iyalla to return to Nigeria. In June he was arrested and incarcerated in Oakington asylum detention centre in Cambridgeshire but was released in time to speak at Pride London about the situation in Nigeria. With 17.5 million members, Nigeria is the second-largest Anglican province after the Church of England, but its number of regular churchgoers is far higher and growing.
The leader of the church in Nigeria, Archbishop Peter Akinola, is one of those leading the charge against gay people being ordained as priests or the blessing of gay relationships. The Anglican Bishop of Uyo, Rt. Rev. Isaac Orama, last year condemned the activities of homosexuals and lesbians in language that typifies Nigerian Anglican leaders’ hostility to gays. "Homosexuality and lesbianism are inhuman," he said. "Those who practice them are insane, satanic and are not fit to live because they are rebels to God’s purpose for man."
31 July 2008
Gay Nigerian tells of death threats
by Christopher Landau , BBC World Service religious affairs correspondent
Davis Mac-Iyalla is an Anglican from Nigeria – nothing unusual about that – but he is also gay and the death threats he has received since being open about his sexuality led him to seek asylum in the UK. Now he is campaigning at the Lambeth Conference, hoping that bishops will face up to the existence of gay Christians in Africa.
,,,,Homosexuality does exist in Africa – it’s not a Western thing, as our African bishops would want people to believe Davis Mac-Iyalla….
I met him just before he began a demonstration at the conference venue on the Kent university campus, joined by lesbian and gay Anglicans from six African countries. With dancing accompanied by traditional drumming, the campaigners held a banner proclaiming, "We’re here!" Many gay Anglicans around the world still feel that the church would prefer to deny their existence. Mr Mac-Iyalla’s message is simple. "Homosexuality does exist in Africa – it’s not a Western thing, as our African bishops would want people to believe," he says.
His troubles began when, in 2005, he founded the Nigerian branch of Changing Attitude, an Anglican pressure group that campaigns for the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the life of the church. He says that the group’s success "offended the leaders of the Nigerian church", which went on to issue a press statement denying that Mr Mac-Iyalla was a practising Anglican. He says that statement, posted on the Nigerian church’s website, had repercussions for his personal safety. "People began to send me death threats by e-mail, by text messages, and it got so serious I had to flee Nigeria to Togo."
In Togo he received a further handwritten death threat, and then in March 2008 he was physically attacked. Someone tried to stab his forearm with a syringe. He showed me what is still a prominent scar. This summer, Mr Mac-Iyalla was planning to attend the Church of England’s General Synod meeting. On arrival in the UK, he – along with the director of the English Changing Attitude group – received yet further death threats. He decided to apply for asylum in the UK – and it was rapidly granted. "I am so grateful to the government of the UK for granting me asylum, for giving me safety, and for allowing me to be alive to continue my work," he says.
Mr Mac-Iyalla has become an iconic figure in the global debate about homosexuality in the Anglican Communion. He stands to counter the traditionalist suggestion that homosexuality is a problem found only in Western societies. But his presence at various Anglican meetings in recent years has challenged bishops – though he says they are "not listening" to the gay Christians in their churches. He recalls the last Lambeth Conference, held 10 years ago. That meeting affirmed that homosexual practice was incompatible with scripture, though Anglican bishops also committed to listening to the experience of homosexual Christians.
Mr Mac-Iyalla believes that too many African Christians focus entirely on condemning homosexual practice and ignore their commitment to hearing stories like his own. Of African bishops, he says, "I think they should open their ears to listen rather than doing the talking." But he does believe that change is on the way. "For people like me and my members, to begin to come out, to have pride in who we are – I think change is coming. The bishops need to know that what comes out of their mouths is affecting us, and putting us in a very difficult situation."
Davis Mac-Iyalla remains optimistic about the Anglican Communion’s ability to affirm the place of gay people. But as Anglican bishops meet to discuss how the row over sexuality has affected the church’s mission, the question is how willing they are to hear his story.
2 October 2008
Nigerian Media Perpetuates Homophobia
by Mongezi Mhlongo (BTM Intern)
Nigeria – In attempts to clampdown on homosexuality, some angry Nigerian citizens devoted to torment and victimise the gays and lesbians in that country. The media is believed to be at the helm of infiltrating the recent spate of attacks in Nigeria on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people. This followed a series of articles published by some newspapers such as The Nation, PM News, The Vanguard and The Sunday Sun indicating that House of Rainbow Metropolitan Church – an all-inclusive congregation in Nigeria according to a lead member – is exclusively gay.
The newspapers articles also had photographs, names and physical addresses of members of the church and its leaders claiming that they were homosexuals in an anti-gay Nigeria. According to Stephanie Adaralegbea – a transgender man in Nigeria, the media crackdown has placed them in danger and they are “living in morbid fear and trepidation.” Early this week, Adaralegbe was attacked by a group of young men who were against his sexual orientation. “I practically escaped death just a few days ago when a group of about eleven to fifteen boys attacked me with planks, sticks bottles and iron bars”, he recounted.
“The lewd boys thought I was a girl and they wanted to get fresh with me. On discovering that I was transgender they raised a volcanic alarm that drew the attention of other people in the neighborhood”, he continued. Condemning the attacks, , an international human rights advocacy group, Global Rights, warned in a statement that; “We think it is time to start again the process of quite diplomacy to warn the Nigerian government that any attack or incitation of hatred against LGBT community and activists working on LGBT rights will not be tolerated by the international community.”
Pauline Kimani, key member of the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK), echoed the same sentiments and adding that Nigeria should be “part of the convention against torture”, which is translated as being part of the UN convention against torture, degrading and inhumane treatment. Meanwhile speculation is rife that the dubbed ‘draconian legislation’ of the federal criminal code, which dictates up to 14 years imprisonment for homosexual acts, is likely to be approved following engagement by Nigerian authorities after the media alert.
Prior to the recent media tumult, Reverend Jide Macaulay of the House of Rainbow MCC had told Behind The Mask that the LGBTI community continuously faces rampant homophobia in Nigeria. “The state of homophobia is devastating. We are having extra special sessions to record the atrocities against LGBT people, and meeting with people to share their stories. These stories include homophobic attacks by strangers and domestic homophobic assaults”, he pointed.
While authorities continue to oppose homosexuality, the controversial 2006 Same Sex Prohibition Bill in Nigeria seems to be tolling. The bill encompasses various factors that undermine human rights and suggests that a penalty of five years imprisonment be imposed to anyone who ‘goes through a ceremony of marriage with a person of same sex’ or someone who ‘performs, witness, aids and abets such ceremonies.’
Furthermore the bill intended to introduce the same penalty to individuals who engage in public or in any form of advocacy or association supporting the rights of LGBTI people. Following Nigeria’s presidential elections of 2007, the bill was temporarily held up by either one or both houses of Nigeria’s National Assembly. Human rights observers believe that the government has failed the LGBTI community in Nigeria and that the recent media crackdown has placed the LGBTI community in enormous danger.
Sankofa Way is proud to announce Freedom2Be. It is out latest initiative in our quest to help those who simply want the freedom to be. We were going to launch the Campaign in December, but the plight of HOUSE OF RAINBOW dictated that we change out time table.
I am deeply disturbed and saddened by the most recent events in Nigeria. Rev. Jide Macaulay, pastor of House of Rainbow MCC having to leave his congregation and country after threats to his personal safety is another example of the danger Black LGBT people face in many places in the world. Our people are terrorized, raped, and killed every day in places such as Nigeria, Jamaica, Sierra Leone, South Africa, and Uganda. The violence and oppression occurs solely because of whom we love.
Those of us who live in relative safety have a moral responsibility to use the resources and freedom we enjoy to create a strong and united response to the oppression of LGBT people worldwide. It is especially important for us to be visible and vocal in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who live in countries that are ruled by the restriction of religious dogma rather than the freedom of self-determination.
We at Sankofa Way hold in prayer Rev. Macaulay and all who suffer losses and live in fear because they challenge religiously based mores. We encourage the community, regardless of sexual orientation, to show their support by filing a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission, signing our petition requesting that our political leaders address this issue, and contacting your local Nigerian Consulate to express your concern about the treatment of LGBT people in their country.
Many of you may remember the success we had a few years ago when Buju Banton was scheduled to perform in Chicago. Sankofa Way called on people to pull together as a nation and send Buju Banton, through his corporate sponsors, the message that using music to incite violence against LGBT people was not acceptable. We made a difference then because we were united, visible, and vocal. All of the sponsors withdrew their financial support for the concert and Buju did not sing his notorious song Boom Bye Bye. We can make a difference now. In this election year, we can send another strong message through our unity, visibility, and voice. The message can be that we will not rest, we will not be silent, we will not disappear until the safety and equality of all same-gender-loving people are ensured and homophobia is a thing of the past.
Let us communicate to the world that we stand alongside our sisters and brothers in resistance to oppression, and we grieve along with them as they recover from the many disruptions homophobia brings to life and home. Thank you for your time.
God Is With Us!
Reverend Deborah Elandus Lake, M.Div.
October 21, 2008
Nigerian ambassador to EU pressured over treatment of gay Christians
by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
Members of the European Parliament have drawn attention to the harassment faced by people working for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people in Nigeria. MEPs from the Parliament’s Intergroup on Gay and Lesbian Rights have written to the Ambassador Usman A Baraya at the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the EU.
"We have to react to continued and life-threatening media harassment of human rights defenders taking place in Nigeria," said Michael Cashman, President of the Intergroup. Media outlets in the country have been inciting hatred against human rights activists of the NGO House of Rainbow in Lagos and many of them are scared for their lives and hiding or have left the country. That is unacceptable and the government must intervene."
Rev Jide Macaulay established the House of Rainbow in 2006. It is the only ministry in Nigeria that welcomes gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans people. The "gay church" has received negative coverage in the Nigerian press.
"House of Rainbow Metropolitan Church, a yet-to-be-registered church, publicly declared its exclusivity for professed homosexuals, as it organised the first ever conference for the practitioners," Sun News reported on October 4th. Ironically, the gathering, which observers described as debauchery, took place at the United Bible University, the same hall where the faithful of the Christian Pentecostal Mission (CPM) conduct their services. On the heels of the gathering came a resounding condemnation from the public, following which security operatives reportedly launched a manhunt for the organisers."
It is estimated that 56 million Nigerians, 40% of the population are Christians. 50% are Muslims. The Anglican Bishop of Uyo, Rt. Rev. Isaac Orama, last year condemned the activities of homosexuals and lesbians in language that typifies Nigerian Anglican leaders’ hostility to gays. "Homosexuality and lesbianism are inhuman," he said. "Those who practice them are insane, Satanic and are not fit to live because they are rebels to God’s purpose for man."
Nigerian law states that anyone who has "carnal knowledge of any person against order of nature or permits a male to have carnal knowledge of him" can be imprisoned for 14 years. In 2007 the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill was debated in the Nigerian Parliament but did not proceed. The proposed new law called for imprisonment for any person who "goes through the ceremony of marriage with a person of the same sex", anyone who helps them and any gay clubs or organisations.
October 27, 2008
Global Financial Crisis Could Hamper Uganda’s Fight Against HIV/AIDS, Officials Say
The future of Uganda’s recently launched five-year strategic plan aimed at reducing new HIV/AIDS cases in the country is uncertain because of the global financial crisis, which could lead donors to allocate funding more conservatively, IRIN/PlusNews reports. The strategic plan — aimed at reducing Uganda’s annual HIV incidence by 40% and increasing access to HIV/AIDS services — is estimated to cost $2 billion. There has been no indication yet that donors will not be able to meet their pledges to Uganda because of the financial crisis, James Kigozi, information officer at the Uganda AIDS Commission, said. He added, "Unless they give us notification, we expect to get the $2 billion over five years as planned."
However, Mai Harper, UNAIDS country coordinator, said she "would be surprised" if Uganda receives all of the funds pledged by donors. She said that this is the "last window of opportunity, and we ought to get things right" by refocusing the country’s fight against HIV/AIDS on prevention. In addition, Harper said that Uganda should use resources more efficiently and reduce corruption, adding, "Countries like Uganda should set their priorities very clearly." Uganda received about $240 million from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief for 2007-2008, as well as $70 million for HIV/AIDS programs from the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in the organization’s seventh funding round. The government set aside $4 million for malaria and antiretroviral drugs for the 2008-2009 fiscal year, according to IRIN/PlusNews.
According to Jim Arinaitwe, Global Fund coordinator at the Uganda AIDS Commission, governments are facing increased pressure to become more sustainable. He said Uganda will have to pay greater attention to its HIV/AIDS prevention during the financial crisis, adding, "When we prevent infection we have less people to treat." According to Kigozi, Uganda has been considering creating a national fund to guarantee sustainable resources for HIV/AIDS programs in the country. He added that the Parliamentary Committee on HIV/AIDS supports a national fund because donor funding can be unpredictable (IRIN/PlusNews, 10/23).