Canada's Anglican bishops have unanimously endorsed a strong resolution expressing "grave concern" about proposed legislation in Nigeria that "would prohibit or severely restrict the freedom of speech, association, expression and assembly of gay and lesbian persons."
Their motion also called criticized the (Anglican) Church of Nigeria for its support of the legislation, reports the magazine Anglican World and ACNS.
The legislation is inconsistent with the United Nations' International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the bishops said in their motion, which was passed at their recent Spring gathering.
They said they were "especially grieved" by the support for the legislation given by the Church of Nigeria, noting that the 1998 Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops called upon churches to "listen to the experience of homosexual persons."
The proposed laws, say the Canadian bishops and other human rights activists, "criminalize civil and religious same-sex marriage as well as the public and private expression of same-sex affection, all public affiliation between gay persons and even publicity, public support and media reporting of the same."
The proposals "would make the very act of listening to homosexual persons impossible" by law, according to the senior clerics.
In unusually strong language, the bishops say they "disassociate" themselves from the actions of the Church of Nigeria and call upon Anglicans around the world to listen to and respect the human rights of gay people.
Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, who is trying to hold the Anglican Communion together in the face of vituperative arguments about human sexuality, has been accused by gay supporters of culpable silence on the Nigerian Churchís backing for the actions of its government ñ which they say amounts to persecution.
In past weeks, senior Anglicans in Nigeria have maintained a barrage of allegations against the head of an embryonic gay Christian organization, Changing Attitude Nigeria. The UK Changing Attitude, headed by the Rev Colin Coward, says that their charges are unsubstantiated and unfair.
[Also on Ekklesia: Nigerian gay and lesbian Christians challenge Archbishop Akinola; Historic first meeting for gay Nigerian Christians; Pro-gay Anglicans say Nigerian Church 'obsessed' with gays; Akinola denies rift over Primates' letter to Williams; Newspaper suggests Africans set to found splinter Anglican church; Pope criticized for gay seminary ban; Bishop helps to launch new gay group; Nigerian church fraud warning includes allegation against gays; Williams rebukes conservatives over approach to gay issues; Orthodox suspend Lutheran links over gay blessings]