Primate of homophobia?
The Anglican primate of Nigeria, Archbishop Peter Akinola, has given an interview to Philip Groves, the facilitator of the Anglican Communion's listening process, in which he defends new anti-gay measures likely to become law in Nigeria within a few weeks.
Consensual sex between men or between women is already a criminal offence in Nigeria, punishable with 14 years' imprisonment. In about a dozen northern Nigerian states, where Sharia law is enforced, homosexuality is punishable by death by stoning. The new measures will make it an offence, punishable with up to five years imprisonment, even to make a speech defending gay rights.
As many as 250 American church leaders have recently signed a petition challenging the new legislation (and the already existing Nigerian anti-gay laws) as "repressive". In March 2006, sixteen international human rights groups signed a letter condemning the new measures, saying that proposed bill "contravenes the basic rights to freedom of expression, conscience, association, and assembly." The European Parliament has already adopted a resolution condemning these and other human rights abuses in Nigeria.
But Archbishop Akinola says "the Western idea of human rights is subservient to the service of the common good." Human rights campaigners will, of course, point out that the establishment of a human rights culture may actually advance the common good.