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Shame: Anti-gay African bishops ignore ‘love thy neighbor’

Davis Mac-Iyalla (Photo courtesy of LGBT Asylum News)
Davis Mac-Iyalla (Photo courtesy of LGBT Asylum News)

Commentary by Nigerian activist Davis Mac-Iyalla, currently based in London:

As a Nigerian gay man, forced to flee my homeland after standing up for the human rights of LGBTI people there, I followed the “Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family” in Rome with great interest. I am appalled but not surprised that it was African Roman Catholic bishops who fought hardest against paragraphs in the [report to the synod] which extended a loving hand to gay people.

In Nigeria, gay people now face beatings, torture and exile as a consequence of absurd and farcical laws forbidding two men from even holding hands.

Pope Francis opens the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family with a mass.
Pope Francis opens the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family with a mass.

When African church leaders should be standing up for human rights, and protecting gay people, they have become modern Pharisees, using idiotic and outdated interpretations of scripture to support crass prejudice. I am thoroughly ashamed of them.

Instead of basing their ministry on love, they are stoking the fires of destruction, for others and ultimately for themselves. Jesus said “Love thy neighbour as thyself.” What part of this don’t you understand, your Graces?

Listen to your master. Listen to your Holy Father. Listen and learn.

This commentary was also published today on the Nigerian news website PM News.

Although Mac-Iyalla’s commentary does not mention same-sex marriage, its PM News headline is “Gay Marriage: African Catholic Bishops ‘Love thy neighbour as thyself.’ ”

Nigerian officials and news media tend to focus on the issue of gay marriage at the expense of discussing other harsh aspects of the country’s new anti-gay law such as the section that provides a 10-year prison sentence for people who engage in a “public show of same-sex amorous relationship.”

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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