Changing Attitude visits Tanzania

Changing Attitude plays a role in the Church of England that is similar to the role played by Integrity, the gay and lesbian caucus of the Episcopal Church. Both groups have sent representatives to Dar es Salaam to be available to the media during the Primates meeting, which gets underway tomorrow. And in an inspired stroke, Colin Coward of CA has brough Davis Mac-Iyalla with him.

You can read about their arrival here.

Mac-Iyalla is the leader of CA’s fledgling chapter in Nigeria. Bringing him to Tanzania was an inspired stroke because Davis has a story to tell that the western media hasn’t picked up on yet. He’s been the victim of a lengthy, clumsy, but nonetheless dangerous smear campaign by the Church of Nigeria. (Read about it here, here and especially here.)

Not to make light of the situation, but my favorite turn in the tale took place when Canon Akin Tunde Popoola, director of communications for the Church of Nigeria challenged Davis’ credibility by saying a certain meeting of CA’s Nigerian branch had never taken place, only to have the meeting reported in the December 18 issue of The New York Times. After which, the Times reporter received an email from the American Spectator, a magazine funded by the right-wing Scaife Foundation, which publishes a lot of the Institue on Religion and Democracy’s work, asking the reporter whether she was indeed there and was certain the event had taken place. Which she was.

The way Davis has been treated makes clear Akinola’s attitude toward homosexuals, as surely as did his visceral recoil, upon learning that he was shaking hands with a gay man. A story, that, as it happens, he told on himself, to The New York Times.

Davis is also planning to confront the Primates–assuming he can actually get near them–with the reality of the legislation that Akinola has supported in Nigeria. To read a letter he has written, click on the continue reading tab.

Dear Archbishops,

The bill to ban same sex-relationships has been dormant for some time in the Nigerian House of Representatives. Due to recent pressure from Nigerian LGBT Rights Organizations and other international defenders of LGTBT Human Rights, the bill is going to be debated again tomorrow, 14 February, by the Nigerian law makers. This news arrived as Davis Mac-Iyalla, Director of Changing Attitude Nigeria, arrived in Dar Es Salaam to try and meet Archbishop Peter Akinola and other Primates to show the commitment of LGBT Nigerian Anglicans to their church.

If this bill is not stopped now it will make most lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people illegal in their own country. With their families and friends and anyone they associate with, they will be immediately criminalized. Those arrested under the provision of the law will face a jail sentence of between 5 and 14 years. Some will be forced into exile by this repressive legislation. Any bishop or priest who befriends, baptises, confirms or welcomes an LGBT person into their church will also be guilty of a criminal offence.

The Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Archbishop Peter Akinola is at the moment in Tanzania meeting with the other Primates. He is a strong supporter of this bill which threatens the lives and security of tens of thousands of LGBT people in Nigeria.

We are appealing to the Primates in the name of God to add your voices to others who have been calling on the

Nigerian Government to stop progress on this bill and withdraw it immediately. The bill will make it impossible for the Anglican Communion to engage in the listening process in Nigeria to which you, the Primates, have committed yourselves in Lambeth resolution 1.10 and the Windsor report. It discriminates against LGBT people. It criminalizes a

group which the church claims to love and should in Christian charity be determined to protect from abuse

and persecution.

Although the bill has not yet been passed into law, yet it has been implemented by many groups and

individuals in Nigerian society. Davis Mac-Iyalla the director of CAN has himself received telephone calls

and emails threatening to end his life and bathe him with acid. This is but just one example of the many

threats LGBT people are facing in Nigeria as a result of the proposed bill, threats reported by members of

CAN in their diocesan groups.

Issued on behalf of Changing Attitude Nigeria

Davis Mac-Iyalla, Director

White Sands Hotel, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

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