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Homosexuality has never had a place in African culture nor in any of the major religions in the world, but yet it recently crept into the National Assembly as a bill for discussion and consideration. How has this come to be?

In the free world, there are laws protecting the rights of homosexuals. Now it is not the question of whether homosexuality is accepted or not, but how to further integrate homosexuals better in society. In most western countries, like the United States and the United Kingdom, gay rights have long progressed to gay marriages. In the United Kingdom, as part of your continued employment in any organisation, you must undergo some form of training on Equality and Diversity – recognition that irrespective of race, class, gender, sexual orientation etc, you must respect the diversity of people. South Africa has long embedded in its constitution, the rights of homosexuals.

Well, in Nigeria it is illegal to be homosexual. But there is pressure from overseas for this to be reversed. Can the secular country, Nigeria say it is modernising and yet discriminate? There is religious conflict, there is racism, and there is gender inequality and more. The argument seems to be that people have the right to be who they are and be treated as such irrespective of sexual orientation, race, class or gender. Countries who support gay rights have taken this view. Can Nigeria continue to claim respect for the rights and freedom of its people and yet deny homosexuality?

During the Second World War, the Nazis carried out some form of research to find out if homosexuality was inherited by injecting homosexuals with male hormones. The reasoning was that homosexuals behave like women and they lack masculinity. So is homosexuality a matter of choice or biology? Are you born as homosexual or do you decide to be homosexual? Scientific research seems to point out it is biological but some religious groups say homosexuality is a lifestyle that can be treated, if not prevented. There were, and there remain tales in Nigerian secondary school of students who have been victims of sexual abuse while in boarding houses. They were too ashamed to report the incident and confided in others. Were these young predators born this way or did they just feel the need to express their sexual desires? Have these incidents affected the mentality of the victims? Have both the predators and victims become homosexuals as a consequence? There have been reported incidents of people who thought they were gay but eventually discovered it was lust, and became straight. Are these one-off incidents? Is homosexuality curable? Now in South Africa, you have gangs taking the fight against lesbians in what they term “corrective rape” – they rape the lesbians, with the hope that it will turn them heterosexuals. Do these lesbians deserve to be so treated?

While our fellow African state (South Africa) as far back as 1994, has allowed same-sex marriage and same-sex adoption. On the right to adopt children, many will even be more appalled. If you want to raise children, why don’t you marry someone of a different sex? Why subject an innocent child to such an environment? What is the implication of that adopted child being raised along gay lines and perhaps encouraged to be gay as well? Documentaries have shown the rise and prevalence of homosexuality in Africa, where many have become victims of jails terms, mob attack and even murder. A BBC female newscaster only recently announced on Twitter that she is marrying her camera woman lover. Iran executes homosexuals as it violates their penal code and Sharia law. Different culture? Different lifestyle? Or is this, part of the modernisation and globalisation we are all in denial of?

The Senate President, David Mark was quoted as saying: “It is offensive. It is repugnant. I will preach against it and we must stand up to reject same sex marriages, in Nigeria. My faith as a Christian abhors it. It is incomprehensible to contemplate on same sex marriage. I cannot understand it. I cannot be a party to it. I do not think any religion supports this. I don’t know where this whole idea of same sex marriage comes from. There are enough men and women to marry each other. The whole idea is the importation of foreign culture but this one would be a freedom too many. We cannot allow our tradition and value system eroded. It is offensive to our culture and tradition”. President Obama says, "I don't think it's a choice. I think people are born with a certain make-up. We're all children of God. We don't make determinations about who we love. That's why I think discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is wrong." Who are you inclined towards?

While David Mark has taken a moral stand on this, let us review some of the antecedents of our moral flag bearers: the church. The Anglican Church worldwide is still locked in battle. The liberals support the consecration of gay priest while the conservative arm is totally and unequivocally against it. When few years ago, two Anglican priests exchanged vows and rings in England, The Most Rev Henry Orombi, the Archbishop of Uganda, said that the ceremony was "blasphemous”. He called on Dr. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, to take decisive action if the Anglican Church were not to "disintegrate". In 2008, Archbishop Orombi added: "What really shocks me is that this is happening in the Church of England that first brought the Gospel to us” (You taught us one thing and you are doing something else). The heads of some African churches including Nigeria, Uganda and Rwanda, who represent almost half of Anglican worshippers, once threatened a breakaway. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams ordained gay priests while he was Archbishop of Wales. The Catholic Church teaches that homosexuality is a violation of divine and natural law. Pope Benedict XVI says that homosexuality is one of the "most insidious and dangerous challenges that today confront the common good." And on catholic priest being gays, “Well, that is just one of the miseries of the church”. The Pope states that sexuality means “ bring about the union of man and woman, and in this way to give humanity posterity, children, a future. This is the determination internal to the essence of sexuality. Everything else is against sexuality’s intrinsic meaning and direction. This is a point we need to hold firm, even if it is not pleasing to our age,” the Pope added. Following, David Mark’s comments, can you trust a politician to be a source of enthroning morality? The church battles its own demons and the moral crusade seems to be at best weakened.

Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron is on collision course with Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda, Malawi, Zimbabwe and many African countries as he has told the BBC that Britain will not give financial aid to African countries who oppose homosexual rights. He is quoted as saying, “British aid should have more strings attached.” In response, Uganda’s presidential adviser John Nagenda, charged the British Prime Minister of displaying “ex-colonial mentality.” John Nagenda went on to say “Uganda is, if you remember, a sovereign state and we are tired of being given these lectures by people…. If they (Britain and others) must take their money, so be it.” How long can these conflict on acceptance or otherwise of homosexuality prevail? How do you sanitize a country of immorality especially when homosexuals do not consider their acts immoral? Do the actions of homosexuals constitute any hazards to the state? Don’t they have the right to decide what to do with their bodies? Many countries including Nigeria accept abortion, which in simple terms, is murder. Is murder a lighter sin than homosexuality?

A Christian couple recently lost a court case in the United Kingdom for turning away a gay couple from using their hotels – as this was clear discrimination. The Rev Rowland Jide Macaulay, the gay minister who founded a church, House of Rainbow in 2006, has opened in Lagos. House of Rainbow church offers underground prayer and preaching to Christians harassed by constant homophobia. The wind is spreading and can it be stopped?

Many will quote the Old Testament in the Bible: God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because of homosexuality. Others will quote the New Testament: Christ came to preach love and tolerance. That He ate and dined with sinners. Yes, hate the sin but not the sinner. That He never attempted to force people to accept his message. People will always have justification for their actions. Where do you lie in all this? Critics argue that Christianity is archaic in its statues and must move on with the times. Society is changing and religion must change with it. Lifestyles are changing and liberalism must become the cornerstone of our religion. You must adapt or be left out. Should religion change to meet the changing times or should the changing times ensure conformity with religion? They argue that Jesus Christ came with the New Testament in contrast with most of the laws in the Old Testament. Is it not time for a Newer Testament?

Jesus Christ reacted to the people who wanted to stone the prostitute to death: that if any of them claims to be a saint, cast the first stone. Can we take a moral stand and cast the first stone? The politicians can never be trusted it seems to stand true to the constitution. Many religious leaders even lack the moral right to stand for this when you consider the level of moral bankruptcy that has plagued the faith. This is a war that will continue it seems. It is a moral battle, and should we simply wait for God’s action as was Sodom and Gomorrah?

* The writer has not expressed any views on the subject but simply evaluated the topic.

Written by Efosa Agho. Email: [email protected]

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