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A powerful documentary on Channel 4, ‘Hunted’, shows the level of homophobic hatred and violence in Russia. As the Winter Olympics begin in Sochi, the United Nations Secretary-General and writers from many countries have condemned the human rights abuses taking place. Churches should consider their stance.
Nigerian bishops have abandoned Catholic social teaching by backing a new law which severely violates human rights. By supporting the misleadingly-named Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act, they have also distanced themselves from Pope Francis, who has called for a more pastoral approach to gays.
UK housing minister Kris Hopkins has tried to dismiss a critical report by UN special rapporteur Raquel Rolnik as a "misleading Marxist diatribe". But it is clear that the government is failing to meet important human rights obligations, at a heavy human cost.
Sri Lankan government minister GL Peiris has tried to justify a wave of attacks on churches and mosques, claiming that these were simply community reactions to unauthorised facilities. The state’s refusal to protect religious minorities further undermines human rights in Sri Lanka overall.
Archbishop Nicholas Okoh has praised Nigeria’s president for signing an anti-gay bill into law and criticised its opponents, according to a Channels Television news report. The new law, misleadingly called the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act, goes far further in undermining human rights, contrary to Nigeria’s constitution and Christian values.
A special adviser on media and publicity to Nigeria’s president is trying to justify a brutally oppressive new law by claiming that it reflects national and religious values. Meanwhile signatures are being gathered for a petition asking the archbishops of Canterbury and York to speak out against this law. Overseas faith leaders may need to choose their words carefully if they are to be most effective.
Some Nigerian Christian leaders have tried to defend a new law that violates human rights and is contrary to Jesus’ call to love one’s neighbour as oneself. All too often, churches are captive to the prejudices and power-games that dominate their society and era.