Thursday, June 5, 2008

NIGERIA: Homosexual Trial Adjourned

The case of the 18 gay men in Bauchi Adjourned.

Dear friends/Readers,

The decision to go to Bauchi was one of the craziest I have done thus far, but I know that Jesus was moved much more with compassion for people.

I love Jesus and I learnt that Jesus never discriminated, it was not necessary to determine whether you are Jewish, Gentile or Greek, a man or woman, old or young, gay or heterosexual, Jesus will talk and play with you. In Nigeria the segregation of religions, tribes and sexuality is more open than anything. If you are not a Muslim and a Northerner you are not welcomed in most part of the North, let alone if you are a homosexual. I learnt this was one of the problems during the sixties Biafra war against segregation, and the continued conflicts between Muslims and Christians.

In preparing for the trip sponsored by The Independent Project, I was careful. I carried my bible on my trip as far as the hotel in Jos, Plateau State, but did not take it with me to the Sharia court, I understand it is a criminal offence, it would have been the wrong place to present Jesus and come out alive. I have been advised by all my friends and well meaning people to keep safe. We love Jesus and I too really want to stay alive, to preach and further the inclusive gospel of Metropolitan Community Church.

Meeting the men was like walking into familiar territory, you know when you are there, gay and lesbian people are universally unique, there were smiles and tears. I think that the gaydar in Bauchi Nigeria is as strong at the gaydar in St Louis Missouri USA and we connected, emotionally and spiritually. It took a few moments to trust me as I looked either like a preacher (ofcourse which I am) or a reporter, I ensured they understood we are their friends and not the persecutors. I tell you a few eyes were coiled up and rolled over as many times and we tapped our feet and fingers in response, there were even cheeky but unique laughter.

I saw young men who by God’s love have made them the way they are and wondered why selfishly the system has decided cruelly to destroy them because of their uniqueness in God’s lovely creation.

It is obvious that these men are heroes for many other young gay men and women in Nigeria and all over the world, they just wanted to get on with life, they least understood the seriousness of the problems and why they are in court, they acted as normal and as natural as they could until their assailant arrested them and determined by the Sharia law that their behavior was not acceptable.

Because of this case their lives have been disrupted and I believe they need the help of the community as far as we can get, they need support to regain their positions in the society, they need to be able to trust us and help us in future. I also believe that they are not public about their sexuality as they appear coy. The Hausa language is rich and has a strong culture, Homosexuality is a difficult lifestyle generally in Nigeria, made worst in the Northern part of Nigeria by Sharia law, However we must remember that we are moving on in the world and ever ready for a revolution to reality, even a place as odd as Bauchi Nigeria.

The case was administratively adjourned to the 25th June 2008, 2pm. The defense team is asking for a complete dismissal of the case.

The prevailing problems for the accused men and their legal team include;
The length of the case and the apparent waste of time,
They informed us of the fact that their lives have been disrupted and are no longer receiving support from their immediate families, therefore life has been more difficult.
All the students informed us that their families have refused to support their education and they are struggling to keep up with expenses related to their studies.
Those that are students claimed that there is an increase in homophobic abuses and they are unable to defend themselves at their different institutions.
For those trading, they have lost clients and they have been dropped and not supported by the workers union.
They have lost earnings due to the numerous court adjournments.
Two who are in work, claimed discrimination from their clients and other market traders and they have not been able to earn adequate income to support themselves.
Legal team is being discriminated against and don’t feel safe
The case is costing the legal team new opportunities for other legal work, due to the time spent on this case.

We can help NOW, please let us ACT now by raising funds

Even when this case is over these men will need some support to get their lives in order, I strongly feel that we can help.

The lawyers are also on seemingly low pay for this case and are also losing other major clients due to discrimination and stigmatisation. There is an urgent need to support their efforts by subsidizing their legal fees and other expenses.

Thanks so much. Rev Rowland Jide Macaulay

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