Monday News: Anti-LGBTQ Violence in Nigeria

Right now, there are laws being passed in other countries that make it illegal to be LGBTQ or even be associated with supporting this community’s rights. Prison sentences, torture, and the death penalty are possible punishments for violating these laws. Although there are numerous laws being passed or already passed criminalizing homosexuality, we want to bring attention to what’s happening in Nigeria.

On January 7, 2014, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed into law the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, which criminalizes same-sex marriage and relationships. With this law, gay and lesbian Nigerians engaging in same-sex “amorous relationships” face up to 14 years in prison. Persons involved in same-sex ceremonies, including guests whether straight or LGBTQ, could face 10 years in prison. Additionally, any person who directly or indirectly supports, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organizations can be sentenced to a term of 10 years imprisonment. Penalties will also be handed out for those who try to assist gay men and women avoid detection or even those who offer them sexual health services.

Since this bill was signed into law, more than 30 arrests have been made in the West African country. Additionally, numerous reports of escalating violence against the LGBTQ community have been reported. According to TIME World,

In Bauchi State, in northern Nigeria, police have reportedly arrested dozens of gay men in the past few weeks. The AP reports that police targeted gay men, tortured them into naming others, and are hunting more gay men down. Chairman Mustapha Baba Ilela  told the AP that 11 men had been arrested and denies that torture was involved. Ilela said that members of the community helped “fish out” suspected gay men and the roundups will continue. “We are on the hunt for others,” he said.

The criminalization of same-sex relationships and increasing homophobia in many African countries has created an environment of fear among Africa’s LGBTQ community and allies.

(For more information: Huffpost, ABC NewsCBS News, CNNCNN VideoFox NewsAl JazeeraTimeNew York Times)

 

 

LOVEboldly condemns these and any acts of violence against the LGBTQ community. 
Be sure to watch for a future blog post where we provide practical ways you can help the LGBTQ community in Nigeria as well as other places where this violence is occurring. 

 

Even the Christian who cannot feel comfortable supporting or protecting LGBTQ relationships should be appalled by the brutality to the community (and for that matter – brutality to any person as we are all made in the image of God.

 

At LOVEboldly we embrace controversy, dissenting opinions and even a good debate now and then. However, we also value civility, kindness, and respect. Therefore, please feel free to share your opinion, but keep it constructive, considerate, and civilized. If you choose to be rude we will delete your comment. Do so consistently and we will ban you. And yes, we do get to define the terms.

A Response To Our Supporters

Last night a friend sent me a guest-blog to publish on our site which began with a statement declaring “I am gay, Side A affirming, and fully support equal protection under the law,” and followed with his explanation of why he wholeheartedly supports the work of LOVEboldly.  I refused to publish it.  I won’t allow him to out himself in a way which will ostracize him from one of his current faith communities and damage his future permanently.  Not for me.  Certainly not for LOVEboldly.

Yesterday, after we released a “A Response To Our Critics”, we received some negative feedback.  We had expected this.  What I hadn’t expected was the overwhelming barrage of texts, Facebook messages, emails, phone calls, and face to face conversations with people, like this friend, who were outraged by those who have made false accusations or assumptions about our work, intentions, and beliefs.  I hadn’t expected to hear so much from those who were hurting by responses they read which made them feel, yet again, that even Christians won’t afford them the grace they need to exist outside of either the Gay Rights or Religious Right boxes.  And I certainly didn’t expect to hear so many thanking us for holding the middle ground we stand in, encouraging us, and pleading with us to continue being that voice.

Many agree that framing the conversation differently than the traditional rights-based approach is precisely what is needed to make progress towards healing the divide between the church and the LGBT community.  A few of these folks wrote these things publicly yesterday.  But most of them stayed the silent majority because they were too angry in the moment to form responses they could feel proud of, or because they are still closeted, or because they just didn’t want to get brutalized by those who would misdirect anger towards LOVEboldly onto them.  I don’t blame them.

We will continue to honor those who are very angry at us, and those who strongly oppose us, no matter how ugly things get, and we will constantly work to come to the table with them, resolve our differences, and find a way forward.  But I refuse to divert our focus onto those conversations with the negative minority who don’t understand our mission and don’t want to.

This post is for our supporters.  You matter.  I write tonight to say “thank you” to all who have stood by us through trying times, who have sent encouraging messages, who have been enraged on our behalf just because you love us as much as we love you.  For all the bold and brave folks who have supported us, and for those who have hung with us when they were skeptical of our work, thanks!  You are the reason we won’t be discouraged.  You have changed our lives.  You inspire us every day.  I am more excited and determined to move forward than ever, and it’s because of you!

Many have asked, “What Can I Do To Help?”  The answer is simple.  Get out a pen and a paper and write a sentence or two telling us why LOVEboldly matters to you, or why you believe in the work we are doing.  Email that statement to us (loveboldlynow@gmail.com) along with your first name (if you want it mentioned) and the city and state you live in.  Or, leave it in the comments below.  We will be publishing these on our site.

I want all of the positivity I received to be heard by the rest of the LOVEboldly family, and by all of our followers – critics and supporters alike.   Some folks, discouraged by the conversations of the past few days, desperately need to hear that they are not alone in their middle ground, and that this is a safe place for them.  So please share!  Two minutes of your time – it’s all I ask for.  I can’t wait to hear your responses.

Keep on LOVING BOLDLY!

What are S.A.F.E. meetings?

Many of you may already know this, but LOVEboldly hosts S.A.F.E. (Sexuality & Faith Engagements) the first Monday of every month. Often, I have been asked about the purpose of these gatherings and why they matter. So, here is the answer:

First of all, we can’t take the credit for the idea of hosting these meetings. The Marin Foundation began them (called Living in Tension Gatherings) several years ago in Chicago. The idea comes from a line in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail: “But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word ‘tension.’ I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth.”

As you can see for yourself, our world is polarized when it comes to the topic of homosexuality. Both sides of the issue are guilty of talking past each other rather than dialoging with one another. As a result, each side demonizes ‘the other’ and the divide deepens, resulting in abusive language and behavior towards those with whom we disagree.

At LOVEboldly, we are persuaded that agreement with one another’s political, theological, moral, or philosophical perspectives is not essential for restoring dignity and communicating with kindness and respect. We want to bring all types of people (non-Christian LGBTs, LGBT Christians, celibates, ex-gays, liberal and conservative straight Christians, straight non-Christians, etc.) together to willfully enter into a place of constructive tension, and seek to intentionally form a community that peacefully and productively takes on the most divisive topics of faith and sexuality.

The goal of our gatherings is not for people to convince others that they are right and ‘the other’ is wrong, but rather work off of a worldview enhancement model. We want to provide a place where people can feel safe to not only share their experiences and beliefs with ‘the other’ but also learn to excel in constructive tension with those they disagree. We seek to make it an active engagement in learning what relationship with ‘the other’ tangibly looks like.

If you live or are visiting the Lexington area, we would love to see you at one of our gatherings. Remember, they are held on the first Monday of each month, beginning at 7:00 pm. Please feel free to email us at loveboldlynow@gmail.com for more information.