Nigerian gay and lesbian Christians challenge Archbishop Akinola
A network of lesbian and gay Christians in Nigeria has achieved national awareness by having an article published in a recent edition of the Daily Sun, the country's national mass circulation newspaper.
In the face of a society and church which is often bitterly hostile towards them, the article challenges the Primate of All Nigeria, Archbishop Peter Akinola, with the reality of gay and lesbian worshippers in Anglican churches across the nation.
It reminds the Church of the commitment made by the Anglican primates, including Archbishop Akinola, to listen to the experience of homosexual persons in each province and to reflect on the issues they raise.
The Daily Sun piece highlights the work of Changing Attitude Nigeria, which has become the fourth national CA network to be formed. It joins one established in 1995 in England and subsequently in New Zealand and Scotland.
The group is calling for the full inclusion of lesbian and gay people in the Anglican Church throughout the world.
Changing Attitude's newest network was formed in August 2005 by Davis Mac-Iyalla, aged 33. Mr Mac-Iyalla was at one time the administrator for the office of the Rt Rev Prof I Ugede, late bishop of Otukpo diocese.
He is a knight and lay reader and was principal of the diocesan school, but the education board felt it was not proper for a gay man head the school and sacked him.
The network is working to make lesbian and gay Anglicans recognized in every Nigerian diocese. Groups are already meeting in Port Harcourt, Lagos and Abuja, where the headquarters of the Church are located.
Already 120 gay men and lesbians are meeting and planning the group's first General Meeting in Abuja on 26 and 27 November 2005.
Changing Attitude Nigeria described the recent move by the Most Reverend Peter Akinola to sever relations with the Church of England 'as more political than religious. Jesus' teaching is about love and care. If Jesus treated the converts this way, he would not have converted Matthew, the tax collector and Mary the harlot.'
Says Davis Mac-Iyalla: 'What the Archbishop should have done is to meet with us, know our feelings and appreciate us for whom we are. That way we can be well integrated into society.'
He continued 'Let society change their attitudes towards gays and lesbians. You have them in every sector in Nigeria, even in government. It is just that they are hidden because of the contempt the society has for them and it is the church that can lead the campaign for the change of attitude towards us.'
Changing Attitude England is a national organization of bishops, priests and lay people in the Church of England. It has a network of 20 groups in 22 dioceses working to support lesbian and gay clergy and lay people.
CA says it 'works for a radical change in church attitudes by witnessing to the local church through personal testimony, education and providing information.'