Sex between consenting adults of the same sex is already illegal in Nigeria. But apparently that just isn't enough for the administration of Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo (hat tip to AmericaBlog).
They have proposed a bill that is nominally anti-gay marriage legislation, but that in reality has vague language affecting a broad set of rights for same-sex attracted Nigerians and visitors.
From the NYT:
Homosexual acts between consenting adults are already illegal in Nigeria under a penal code that dates to the colonial period. This new legislation would impose five-year sentences on same-sex couples who have wedding ceremonies — as well as on those who perform such services and on all who attend. The bill’s vague and dangerous prohibition on any public or private show of a “same sex amorous relationship” — which could be construed to cover having dinner with someone of the same sex — would open any known or suspected gay man or lesbian to the threat of arrest at almost any time.
The bill also criminalizes all political organizing on behalf of gay rights. And in a country with a dauntingly high rate of H.I.V. and AIDS, the ban on holding any meetings related to gay rights could make it impossible for medical workers to counsel homosexuals on safe sex practices.
Its a relief to know that the religious leaders can be trusted to present a united front opposing this kind of oppression and violation of human rights.
The NYT article reveals that the legislation has the "full and enthusiastic support of the leader of Nigeria’s powerful Anglican church."
The head of the Anglican Church in Nigeria is Archbishop Peter Akinola, a divisive figure in the Anglican Communion, who has been quoted as saying that the acceptance of gay relationships is a "satanic attack."
I can't find anything from Pope Benedict XVI condemning this most un-Christian action. Nor can I find any condemnation from the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Religions lose their moral authority when they look away from this kind of cruelty and injustice. I contend that Archbishop Akinola, in advocating for this legislation. has lost much, much more.
Certainly his humanity and very likely his soul.