The global leader of the world’s largest church that affirms lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people condemned the mass arrests and torture of LGBTQ people in Nigeria. The Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, the global moderator of Metropolitan Community churches, announced a call for all faith leaders and persons of good will to speak out against the brutality being demonstrated by Nigerian officials.
“Today, we face a global crisis with Nigeria being the latest outbreak of hate and violence against sexual minorities. Nigeria has a population of 169 million people, which means millions now have to hide or flee to avoid imprisonment and torture. It means vigilante beatings and killings will be on the rise. Fear will prevail,” said Dr. Wilson. “The new law impacts all Nigerians. As one person commented, ‘When the police enter your house, arrest you for no reason, torture you to confess you are gay, you’ll understand how crazy this law is.’”
“Right now, it is reported that dozens of LGBTQ people are being rounded up, imprisoned, and tortured so that they will reveal names of people to be arrested and tortured—to reveal more names. Where will this end? Why are religious people silent in the face of this vicious persecution?” asked Dr. Wilson. “Persecution and brutality are not cultural differences; these are crimes against humanity!”
“When Nigeria’s law says, ‘A person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies or organizations, or directly or indirectly makes public show of same-sex amorous relationship in Nigeria, commits an offense and is liable on conviction to a term of 10 years,’ the average citizen should know that any person could be accused of being gay,” said Dr. Wilson. “Political enemies, visitors from other countries, irritating neighbors, and anyone who is the least bit different can be a target for this vicious campaign. This must stop!”
“It must stop in Nigeria. It must stop in India. It must stop in Uganda. It must stop in Russia. It must stop in Jamaica. It must stop in the United States, where almost 25% of transgender people in a recent national survey reported experiencing ‘catastrophic discrimination.’ Every year, we mark more murders—many unsolved, where transgender people are often dismembered, burned, mutilated, and subjected to other overkill practices that reveal untold levels of hate.”
“Religious people should be on their knees to God asking for forgiveness because so much of this hatred is rooted in misguided religious beliefs. It is far past the time for religious leaders in every country to speak against the demeaning, persecution, torture, imprisonment, or murder of people because of whom they love or how they express their gender. Demand that government officials respect the human dignity of all citizens. Lives are at stake.”
Photo via flickr user Jeremy Weate