‘NO TO FOREIGN AID-FOR-GAY RIGHTS’: Africa dares Western nations over homosexuals
By Sam Eyoboka, Olayinka Latona and David Oso
Story in brief
Africans are overwhelming in their rejection of the move by the west to get them to recognise the rights of gays and lesbians.
WHEN British Prime Minister, David Cameron, at the last Commonwealth meeting in Perth, Australia, repeated his threat to English-speaking African nations that, henceforth, strings would be attached to aid that his government would offer to the affected countries, he said, “We want to see countries that receive our aid adhering to proper human rights, and that includes how people treat gay and lesbian people”.
The British prime minister must be living with the illusion that Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and the rest of the English-speaking countries in Africa are still under British rule, and can, therefore, be ordered around.
But emerging developments in the West African sub-region are beginning to prove to the West and indeed Britain that the former dark continent has come of age and can call the bluff of the imperialists.
Cameron’s remarks have rather provoked nationalist sentiments in Africa and rallied even those previously tolerant of homosexuality to call his bluff. Critics of homosexuality have one thing in common and that is that Western countries are trying to impose un-African sex practices on Africans in total disregard of biblical principles.
Sierra Leone was the tiny voice that let loose the avalanche when political and church leaders, represented by the Deputy Information Minister, Sheka Tarawallie, ruled out legalising same-sex marriages in the West African state, after a British threat to cut aid to nations not recognising gay rights. Tarawallie said: “It is not possible that we will legalise same sex marriages as they run counter to our culture”.
The president of the 500,000-strong Methodist Church in Sierra Leone, Bishop Arnold Temple, echoed the information minister’s objections to Cameron’s warning, stating: “The Church in Sierra Leone will do everything possible to protect democracy but our values will not accept the call from British Prime Minister Cameron for countries in the Commonwealth like Sierra Leone to accept the practice of lesbianism and gayism. Africa should not be seen as a continent in need to be influenced by the demonic threat as our values are totally different”.
Criticism over Cameron’s comments Cameron’s comments have also drawn criticism in Ghana with that West African nation’s president, Mr. John Evans Atta Mills, saying Ghana will not legalise homosexuality Mills added that his country will continue to operate within its constitution regardless of any threats from any country.
Such were the sentiments echoed, penultimate week, by the upper chamber of the Nigerian National Assembly, when the Senate it defied the pressure by the Western nations against legislation that limits rights of sexual minorities to pass a bill to prohibit same sex marriage in any part of the country.
Tagged Same-Sex Prohibition Bill, the law proposed up to 14 years imprisonment each for gay couples who decided to solemnize their union while witnesses to the marriage or anyone who assisted the couples to marry could be sentenced to 10 years behind bars.
The Bill also makes operation or registration of gay clubs or organizations a criminal offence. Commenting at the issue, the Senate president, David Mark, said: “If there is any country that wants to stop giving aid because we won’t pass the bill on same sex marriage; that country can go ahead. We are a sovereign nation and we have the right to decide for ourselves because no country can interfere in the way we run our country. Same sex marriage is against our own culture and tradition and against our beliefs.”
That decision by the upper chamber has attracted applause from the Christian and Muslim communities in Nigeria, which commended the Senate for the courage it demonstrated to pass the Same Sex Marriage Bill. The action, according to them, shows the level of the upper chamber’s commitment to the cultural heritage of the African nations.
Reaction to the Senate passage of the Bill Reacting to the Senate passage of the Bill, sponsored by Senator Magnus Abe, (PDP, Rivers State), the National President of CAN, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, specially took cognizance of the statement made by Mark urging donor nations blackmailing African nations with threat to withdraw their aids unless they endorse homosexuality.
Oritsejafor described the statement as the kind of outbursts of a man who had aptly demonstrated his desire to defend the ideals his country stand for. “This is the kind of leaders Nigerians have been clamouring for; leaders who cannot be cowed by dirty carrots being dangled by imperialist nations,”the CANPresident said.
“It is therefore gratifying to note that the Senate has taken a bold step to call the bluff of donor nations who are always holding beggarly African nations to ransom; giving them impossible conditions in return for their conditional aids and thereby further impoverishing the continent.”
If other agencies of governments, Oritsejafor stated, “can follow the same line of argument, the international community would be forced to change its attitude towards Africa.”
He therefore urged the House of Representatives to toe the same line by also passing the Same Sex Marriage Bill.
According to him, God created man in His own image and told him to cleave together with his wife to procreate and replenish the earth.
“God created Adam and gave him Eve to be his help meet. If God wanted same sex marriage, He would have created Steve to partner Adam,” Oritsejafor added.
Also reacting to the development in a telephone interview, erstwhile presidential candidate of Fresh Democratic Party, Rev. Chris Okotie, described Nigeria as a hedonistic and nihilistic nation, saying our culture is steeped in totems of divine worship and to that extent we cannot accommodate elements of imperialistic idolatry.
“We applaud the Senate for towing the line of patriotic commonsense at this juncture when we need the support of Almighty God like never before. It’s with great pride that we salute the courage of our senators,” Okotie stated.
The God’s Kingdom Society, GKS, also lauded the Senate decision to ban same-sex marriage in Nigeria with a proviso that the government should focus more on reformation of homosexuals than on punishment or retribution.
In a statement signed by the Publicity Secretary, Brother Benedict Hart, the GKS asserted that the decision of the upper house was in line with the laws of God which clearly abominates homosexuality according to Deuteronomy 23:17 and Romans 1:25-27 among other places.
“It is impossible to reconcile homosexuality with the noble ideals of the Christian faith”, the statement said, adding that contrary to what some people believe, the laws of God against same-sex relationships were not informed by the prevailing attitudes or social climate in time of those days”. While homosexuals were welcome to the Christian faith, the radical transformation which is the hallmark of the new life in Christ required that they must stop the practice so as to be Christians indeed.
Stating that those who profess the Christian faith must express in conduct the values deemed characteristic of the God-centred life, the GKS stated that the solution to the problem of homosexuality did not lie in long prison terms but in setting up of appropriate programmes of spiritual counselling that would build knowledge, faith, strong will or determination, prayerfulness on the part of offenders and reformation and rehabilitation programmes by the authorities and civil society groups, so as to wean those involved from the practice by the grace of God.
The GKS said it was important that all right-thinking persons should support the effort of the upper chamber of the National Assembly to discourage same-sex liaisons or unions in the nation and prevent innocent youths from being lured into it.
“Unfortunately, however, many of those with homosexual orientation close their minds to the truth and are determined to go their own ways. They thereby sink deeper and deeper into the morass of their own perversions and perverted practices”, the statement said.
In a similar vein, the Lagos Catholic Archdiocesan Director of Social Communications, Monsignor Gabriel Osu, said it was a welcome development, saying that for the first time in the nation’s history, the National Assembly had demonstrated that they are the true representatives of the people.
“We only pray that the National Assembly will adopt the same zeal to deal with other national issues that touch on the lives of the people of the nation. Sincerely, I must say that we give thumbs up for the Senate and we hope that they will adopt the same stand on other national matter of interest to the masses of the nation,” he stated.
Even the Nigerian government last week added the weight of its voice to the opposition against gay rights. The government, therefore, asked the US and other countries opposed to the Senate’s passage of the bill banning same sex marriage, to respect Nigerians’ independence, democracy and sovereignty.
This came as the Senate, yesterday, insisted that the law banning same sex marriage in Nigeria remains while members of House of Representatives have vowed that the decision by President Obama to fight discrimination against gays and lesbians abroad by using foreign aid and diplomacy would not deter the House from passing the bill on same sex marriage.
Meanwhile, the US also vowed to use diplomacy and $3 million in foreign aid to help expand the rights of gays. Disclosing this during the World Human Rights Day, US Secretary of States, Mrs Hillary Clinton, argued that the definition of human rights must be amended to account for sexual diversity.
While fielding questions from State House Correspondents, after a prolonged weekly Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan, Minister of Information, Mr Labaran Maku, maintained that Nigeria was an independent country and reserved the right to make laws through democratic institutions to govern the country.
Maku said: “We reserve the right to make laws without apologies to anyone. Our laws will be guided by our own interests and values.”He also noted that foreign countries that were not happy with laws made in Nigeria were free to express their views “but they should also know how our democracy works.”
According to him, “let me say this, the reported comments by the US Government about the proposed law by the Senate about same sex marriage in Nigeria has not fully come to government for a position. But let me say this, we live in a democracy, we live in a free country, we live in an independent country. And in every democracy, as you know, there are institutions, there are laws and also there are cultures, there are believes and values in every nation.