BY EBUN SESSOU
Although, the story of homosexuality in Nigeria is gradually becoming unpopular as those who indulge in such act are not bold to openly declare their identities, the fact still remains that homosexuality is being practised in some parts of the world including Nigeria.
Reverend Olajide Rowland Macauley, a gay pastor, is currently running a church called House of Rainbow which was situated at No 36/38 Yakoyo street, Ojodu Berger, Lagos.
It will be recalled that in 2008, Saturday Vanguard reported that Reverend Rowland was initiating new members into the gay club and at same time running the church secretly in Nigeria. He was also reported to have appeared sometime ago on Cable News Network, CNN, where he proudly talked about his gay church.
The initial reaction which greeted his exposure, created doubts in the minds of Nigerians over the existence of such church in their shore. But an uproar in the Anglican communion in Europe on gay bishops once again brought the case of Reverend Rowland to the fore.
However, when the Saturday Vanguard visited his residence at plot 145, flat 1, Jakande estate, Isolo, Lagos, his apartment was under lock and key. It was learnt that the gay pastor vacated his home when he read the story of his clandestine activities in a national newspaper.
The usual church service at both the Jakande estate branch and the Ojodu headquarters of the House of Rainbow Ministries could not hold following the newspaper report. Impeccable sources hinted that Rev. Macauley has since relocated to Europe where he’s presently running his gay church.
Following the recent outcry against gay practice in Nigeia, the Senate recently passed the anti same-sex marriage bill prohibiting all marriages between man and man, conversely between woman and woman. The Bill sponsored by Senator Magnus Abe, PDP, Rivers, prescribes 14 years jail term for anybody convicted of contracting marriage between same sex.
It also prescribed 10 years for anybody convicted of aiding and abetting the contraction of same sex marriage in Nigeria and also nullifies certificates of same sex marriage contracted outside the shores of Nigeria.
The act also kicked against the operation of gay clubs in Nigeria with a punishment of 10 years jail term without option of fine for anybody guilty of operating gay clubs within the country. But it seems Rowland has succeeded in enlarging his coast as more people are secretly engaging in different forms of homosexual activities.
According to him, “ My Church is a voice of the younger generation of citizens and activists in diaspora and our collective belief is in a more progressive Nigeria. They are afraid of our growing influence as we gather allies not just from the West, a people that are not afraid but powerful and resilient.
“Right now, we are spreading our tentacles to every village, town and city around the world”. The Church is also calling on faithful and dedicated local leaders who believe in homosexuality and lesbianism. There are ten House Of Rainbow Fellowship local leaders in Ghana, Nigeria, UK, Burundi, and Lesotho.
According to the gay pastor, “any negative effect on the anti-gay bill will be detrimental to the work and mission of House Of Rainbow in Nigeria. The lives of LGBTI people and their friends, families and allies will be further frustrated with fear and prejudice. We need to pray and stand up against injustice”.
Consequent upon the bill, it might be a hard time for both gay and religious leaders who are in support of this practice.
Meanwhile, Rev Macauley, the gay minister who founded the church, is probably planning a come back to resume full operation of his gay ministry even though he remains in self-imposed exile in London. “Religion is the backbone to life in Nigeria, so we all want to go to church,” he said. “But we don’t want to lie to God about who we are.”
Macauley first set up House of Rainbow in 2006, where he openly held Sunday services in a Lagos hotel hall decorated in rainbow colours. A public backlash culminated in members being beaten as they left the church. Macauley fled to the UK after receiving death threats.
This year, he has recruited a small team that includes his local leaders in Lagos.The project could even spread beyond the borders of Africa’s most populous nation. Macauley has recently recruited a local leader in Accra, the capital of Ghana. Available information shows that he is presently considering spreading his tentacles to Rwanda and Zimbabwe.
Nigerian homosexual opens a gay entertainment company in Abia State
A Nigerian gay was reported in one of the social media, as being married to a German lawyer and later divorced him.
Similarly, another Nigerian gay is currently operating a gay entertainment company in Abia Sate. Okechukwu, as he is called opined that his company provides gay dancers and entertainment services for private parties and business functions amongst others.
Man, Adisa, accused of sodomising teenagers for rituals
A 21 year old man, Adisa, who was accused of sodomising teenagers for ritual purposes. He narrowly escaped being lynched by a mob at Amai Street, Amukoko in Lagos recently.
According to residents of the area, Mr Adisa, who was revered as a man of God, had been engaging in that act for a long time but luck ran out of him when his neighbours discovered he was having sex with one of the boys. “We rushed to his house but when he saw us coming, he escaped throughthe back fence of his house and ran away,” said a resident of the street who did not want to be named.
Mr Adisa was sighted last Thursday morning in the area and it took the timely intervention of the elders in the community to rescue him when his neighbours descended on him. He was subsequently taken to the house of the Baale (community leader) of the area where some of the youths in the area continued to torture him.
Eyewitnesses said Mr Adisa hypnotised the boys before sleeping with them on a white cloth spread on the floor in his apartment. Azeez Kareem, one of the boys who admitted being a victim of Mr Adisa’s sexual acts, narrated his ordeal.
“One day, we were going to the field to play football when this man called us. He asked for our names and religion, I said Islam and my cousin said Christianity. He said I should leave. I went and came back and they were preaching. I didn’t know what they were talking,” said Master Azeez, 17.
“Another day, I just entered the house and I saw one boy. He ordered the boy to go outside. He then said I should go and buy Atare (Alligator pepper). When I came back, he said I should pull my clothes and lie down on the floor, there was a white cloth on the floor. I didn’t know what he was doing. After that, he said I should eat the alligator pepper but I refused.”
Residents said that Azeez’s cousin, Tunde, who had moved in with Mr Adisa for several weeks, had become a changed person in recent times. “I came back from school one day only to find out that my brother has started living with him. We didn’t know him before. I asked my mother if she was aware of my brother’s new home and she said no, that he is a prophet of God, that God sent him to help the boy. That was the first time I met(Mr Adisa),” said Wale Razak, Tunde’s elder brother.
Tunde was indisposed at the time of the incident; he had gone to write his General Certificate Examination papers.
“He (Tunde) used to be a very noisy chap but since he began living with the terrorist, he became very quiet. And we were thinking the man was really preaching to him, we never knew he was using juju on him.”
Admission and denial
In absolving himself of any wrong doing, Mr Adisa denied indulging in any ritual act. “Whatever they say, it is only God that really knows the truth. I did not run away, I went to the mountain to pray, at Osogbo. I only make sex with them. I started doing it just this month and I’ve slept with only two boys. There is nothing like ritual. I don’t force them nor give them money and I don’t spread anything on the ground,” said Mr Adisa.
Meanwhile, the Baale of Alafia, Jide Saliu disclosed that this has been going on for long but was just told about the incident. “I have called the police under my jurisdiction. I will hand over everything to them. And I’ve talked to the Oba of Ijora and he said I should take the matter serious.”
It was gathered that police officers from the Pako Police Post, Amukoko, arrived the scene later and whisked him away.
Malawi revives debate on gay rights
By selling the presidential jet and getting rid of 60 limousines driven by high-ranking officials, Joyce Banda, Malawi’s new president, is making waves.
But even before trimming the fat from the state budget, Ms. Banda made headlines when she announced her intention to repeal the country’s anti-gay law shortly after her April swearing-in. If she has her way, Malawi would be one of the rare African countries to do so.
Two-thirds of African countries have laws that criminalize consensual same-sex acts, according to Cary Alan Johnson, executive director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), a New York-based gay advocacy group. In most countries, same-sex acts between men, known as sodomy, are punishable by harsh prison sentences. Many of these laws date back to the colonial period, in particular in countries that were under British rule.
“You cannot stop the tide,” says Mr. Johnson. “The end of stigma, discrimination and criminalization of homosexuality in Africa is only a matter of time. Like minority and disabled rights, they will move forward. This does not mean there will not be a push back. And that is what we are experiencing right now.”
The United Nations and some Western nations are urging African governments to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) rights. But recent decisions by the US and UK to tie those rights to foreign funding has had unintended consequences on the continent.
In reaction, homophobia is now on the rise in Africa, and much of it is state-generated. Several African leaders have instructed law makers to stiffen laws against same-sex acts and same-sex marriage.
Uganda has revived a controversial bill to introduce death penalty for consensual same-sex acts. According to local media, hate crimes have increased against gay persons. An LGBT workshop was raided recently in the capital, Kampala, where a well-known advocate was arrested, forcing her to flee the country.
Nigeria in the meantime has passed a bill that punishes same-sex unions with 14 years in prison. The bill also punishes those who “aid and abet” such unions with 10 years imprisonment. Foreigners without diplomatic protection and humanitarian workers could also be prosecuted under this new bill. It is currently on President Goodluck Jonathan’s desk, waiting to be signed into law.
Liberia’s president and Noble Peace prize winner, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, has defended two new bills in her country that would hand down much tougher sentences for “voluntary sodomy,” which is now a misdemeanour.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron has hinted to Commonwealth leaders that future aid from his country would be contingent on recognition of gay rights. Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama issued a memorandum last December instructing US agencies abroad to use aid money to help defend LGBT rights and protect asylum seekers.
Tying overseas aid to gay rights seems to have not only brought African leaders up in arms, but also African religious leaders.
The Council of African Apostles (CAA), an annual gathering of African Christian evangelicals issued a statement in March calling on the US and UK to withdraw their statements tying aid to the legislation of gay rights. The CAA said that aid in whatever form should not be tied to morals, principles and/or religious beliefs.
The CAA declared that “we find it morally irresponsible of Western powers to attach the adoption of ‘gay rights’ to development support. Such positions affirm the long-held beliefs that the West does not relate with Africa on a basis of equality and also that such pronouncements violate the Paris Principles on Development support.” (The Paris Declaration or Principles for Aid Effectiveness, endorsed in 2005, was meant as a blueprint for an ideal aid relationship between donor and recipient countries, in which developing countries are allowed to formulate their own policies and strategies.)
Not a government priority
For most African governments, protecting and promoting the rights of the LGBT community is not a national priority. Their position was made clear in March, when some Arab and African countries at the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council walked out on a debate about violence against LGBT persons. The panel was organized by South Africa, which legalized same-sex marriage in 2007.
Nigeria left the room after denying that any of its citizens have been subject to violence because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Ambassador Fode Seck of Senegal, as leader of the Africa group at the council, refuted the notion that gay rights are part of global human rights. “We categorically reject all attempts to hijack the international human rights system by imposing social concepts or norms, in particular certain behaviours, that have no legal grounds in the human rights debate. Such an initiative would be perceived as a flagrant disrespect for the universality of human rights.”
A historic resolution passed in June 2011 at the council made gay rights a universal human right. UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon has received a lot of criticism from some African leaders for standing behind the cause.
In his address to the Human Rights Council in December 2011, Mr. BanKi-Moon said he understood the topic of sexual orientation was a sensitive one. “Like many of my generation,” he said, “I did not grow up talking about these issues. But I learned to speak out because lives are at stake. And because it is our duty under the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to protect the rights of everyone, everywhere.”
The UN’s first report on conditions facing LGBT people around the world came out that same month. The report, prepared by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, showed incidents of targeted and systematic patterns of violence.
According to Navi Pillay, the human rights commissioner, such incidents constitute a grave human rights challenge that the council has a duty to address. “As always, people are entitled to their opinion,” she said.
“They are free to disapprove of same-sex relationships, for example and they have an absolute right to believe and follow in their own lives whatever religious teachings they choose. But that is as far as it goes. The balance between tradition and culture on the one hand and universal human rights on the other must be struck in favour of human rights.”
For Mr. Johnson of the IGLHRC, the glass is half full in regards to the advancement of LGBT rights in Africa. He points to South Africa’s leadership in LGBT rights. Malawi has now followed suit. Mauritius has also decriminalized consensual same-sex acts, while Mozambique has softened its law on sodomy if the act is consensual. “I think things are changing,” says Mr. Johnson. “A few years ago, Africa was a monolithic bloc against LGBT rights and now it’s starting to crack.”
Pastor behind the gay marriage ruling in USA
Founder, Prophet, Pastor; Rev Elder Troy D. Perry is behind the gay marriage ruling. It was noted that the history behind the California Supreme Court decision that gives the “right to marry” to same-sex couples are the bold steps taken over four decades by onetime Pentecostal minister Troy Perry in trying to establish legal and religious rights for gays and lesbians.
Perry, who founded a church 40 years ago that became an international denomination for Christian homosexuals, filed the initial lawsuit with his spouse and a lesbian couple in February 2004 that led to last month’s ruling making California the second state, after Massachusetts, to legalize marriage for same-sex couples.
The 4-3 decision by the high court though endangered by an expected state initiative in November to amend the constitution to ban gay marriage marked another milestone for the homosexual-oriented Metropolitan Community Churches, started by Perry in 1968 in Los Angeles County.
In 1969, Perry performed the first public same-sex “holy union” ceremony in the U.S., and in January 1970 he filed the first-ever lawsuit seeking legal recognition of same-sex marriage. It was dismissed before coming to trial.Perry tried unsuccessfully for years to gain membership in the National Council of Churches for MCC churches.
But ministers in the denomination do serve on NCC committees and have been welcomed into many regional and local interfaith councils. Meanwhile, gay caucuses grew vocal within nearly all mainline denominations, and some clergy were conducting same-sex blessings.
The idea of legal marriage for gays was too politically volatile in the mid-1990s for the MCC to make it a priority issue. But by early 2001, Perry and his church were fully committed to the fight. Perry and his longtime partner, Phillip Ray De Blieck, were legally married July 16, 2003, at an MCC congregation in Toronto.“Today the California Supreme Court legally recognized our marriage,” Perry, 67 and now retired, exulted on May 15, saying that “our marriage is equal in the eyes of the law to all other marriages.”
Pentecostal pastors often see gay desire as the work of demons. “You might start casually but, once you get into it, you will be possessed by the spirit,” said Emmanuel Owoyemi, a pastor in Lagos. Meanwhile, in the 12 sharia states in the North, gay sex carries death penalty, although no executions have yet taken place.
A national anti-gay marriage bill, which pushes for jail sentences for anyone who even assists gay marriage, has been before Nigeria’s parliament since 2009 and was passed recently prohibiting the practice.