Nigeria is showing a good example of why we can never, ever let religious beliefs that denigrate people become law in this country. A number of men were arrested there because they were in a hotel, supposedly dressed in women’s clothing and celebrating a gay marriage. At first they were all charged with sodomy, which carries the death penalty in Nigeria. But there was no evidence that anything sexual was occurring, so the judge dropped that to the charge of ‘dressing in women’s clothing.’ I have to wonder if this really happened as well, since they were originally charged with sexual acts.
Anyway, the worst of it is that a band of thugs decided they weren’t happy with the downgrading of the charges and they decided to try and break into the jail where these men are being held to dole out their own brand of justice. Now why would people be so angry at these ridiculous reduced charges? I think it has to do with all of the religious-based anti-gay news that is happening in Nigeria. Nigeria is trying to make it illegal to be gay and lesbian and making it illegal to do anything that might show you are gay or lesbian. People there could not discuss HIV and it would be illegal for straight people to meet with gay people. And if you don’t think there are parallels to what is happening in this country–think again. All of this anti-gay religious persecution started with a bill that wanted to ban same-sex marriage and it took off from there. We can see that now that the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act" has led to many states banning same-sex marriage, which has led to a new push to keep gays and lesbians from adopting children. The patterns are similar. And the Christian church must take some responsibility for what is happening. The Nigerian Episcopal Archbishop Peter Akinola is totally against anyone gay and lesbian and the fact that his brand of Christianity is taking over some parts of the American Episcopal church is appalling. I hope that every single member of the Episcopal church in the U.S. gets a first-hand description of what these men in Nigeria are having to deal with. I seriously doubt that that these men will survive when and if they are released from prison. And we can partially thank the efforts of Archbishop Akinola for that.