In an unexpected but dramatic turn of events at St Marylebone Parish Church London, the Coordinator of Justice for Gay Africans Society [JfGA], Mr. Godwyns Onwuchekwa, confronted the newly consecrated Archbishop of the Anglican Church in Nigeria on issues relating to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people [LGBT].
"Let me say this; the Anglican Church in Nigeria, emphatically does not accept gay people. Our bible is against it, the word of God is against it. Gay or lesbianism or whatever… it is like saying we condone drug users. What we offer them is repentance and deliverance from that evil spirit. Do not come here to tell me about grace; what grace? We will never accept it”, the Archbishop furiously replied.
The Archbishop, the Most Revd. Nicholas Okoh succeeded the former well known homophobe Peter Akinola. Mr. Okoh was on a pastoral visit to Nigerians of the Anglican faith in the UK and held an interactive open meeting at St Marylebone Parish Church London.
In his question, Godwyns who was brought up a Christian of the Anglican faith quoted the controversial Leviticus 18:22 which condemns homosexual sex, but also compared it to the subsequent verses in the same line of laws in Leviticus 21:17 which outlaws priests with physical disabilities. He then asked how the Archbishop how he will turn a new page for the church in Nigeria to desist from influencing state-sponsored homophobia.
“While Mr. Okoh did not come across as hateful as his predecessor, the hint of homophobia in him was evidently clear. However, unlike his predecessor, his tolerance to take the question and respond to it indicates a ray of light if there be onward peaceful dialogue and this is what we hope to continue to seek. We will continue to engage and hope that people in the black communities would embrace such dialogue towards understanding and respecting the natural rights of LGBT people amongst them”, says Godwyns Onwuchekwa.The audience of about 100 people, mainly of Nigerian origin were divided on the issue. At the end of the Archbishop’s adamant response, a few of them clapped to it. The meeting ended without any physical quarrel and the Archbishop went to the back seats to meet Godwyns and hugged him.
Is this a new beginning or a dead end?
Justice for Gay Africans Society [JfGA] is a pressure group newly formed by a group of gay black people in the UK to challenge homophobia in African and Caribbean countries.
The Archbishop of Nigeria is the spiritual head of the Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion, an independent church in communion with the world Anglican Church. The Church of Nigeria has encouraged a break-away church opposing the world Anglican accepting or ordaining gay people since the consecration of Gene Robinson in the USA in 2003.
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