Human rights in Nigeria. And Peter Akinola says “Amen.”

Some of you may be clinging to an idea advanced by Canon Akintunde Popoola of the Church of Nigeria in the credulous pages of The Living Church magazine. He asserts that legislation currently under consideration in Nigeria doesn’t really infringe gay people’s rights of speech, assembly and association all that much.

Or, you may be in an argument with someone who believes, as Bishop Robert Duncan of the Anglican Communion Network, Canon Martyn Minns of the American Anglican Council or Faith McDonald of the Institute on Religion and Democracy do that pointing out that the Anglican Archbishop of Nigeria supports legislation that would violate human rights is actually worse than supporting the violation of those rights.

Whatever the case, I urge you to check out this letter from 16 human rights organizations–including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International–urging Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo to withdraw what the groups characterize as a “draconian” measure that not only “contravenes international law” but violates the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which “ensure(s) rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly.”

The bill also undermines Nigeria’s struggle to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS, as a story from Human Rights Watch points out.

So to restate a recurring theme: It is okay for the Anglican Church of Nigeria, led by Archbishop Peter Akinola, to support what a bevy of human rights organizations call a “draconian measure” that “will only intensify prejudice and discrimination based on sexual orientation.” As long as they don’t consecrate any gay bishops, their membership in the Anglican Communion is apparently safe. Because, you see, there is “consensus” within the Communion that gay bishops are a dodgy initiative that must be resisted until an overwhelming majority of the Communion is on board. Whereas advocating the imprisonment of gay people who kiss in public is not sufficient cause for reexamining the nature of that consensus.

Speaking unofficially: it is beginning to look as though the Communion faces less danger from its supposed inability to say “no” to theological innovations, than from its manifest unwillingness to say “no” to what the non-Anglican world recognizes as bigotry.

(tip of the hat to for spotting this first.)

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