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Nigerian Gay Leader Speaks About Anti-Gay Repression

7 PM, Friday, June 8

St. Peter’s Episcopal Church

621 W. Belmont Avenue, Chicago

The Gay Liberation Network is proud to sponsor the Chicago leg of a national tour by one of Nigeria's most prominent gay activists, Mr. Davis Mac-Iyalla.

As founder of Changing Attitude Nigeria (www.changingattitude.org.uk), Mac-Iyalla has been in the forefront of efforts to prevent further anti-gay legislation in his country and win equal rights for gays within the Anglican Church, the country's largest Christian denomination.

Recently Nigerian Anglican Archbishop Peter Akinola has been on a crusade to split the worldwide 77 million person Anglican / Episcopalian denomination over the issue of rights for lesbians and gays, attempting to bully the American church into rescinding the consecration of openly gay V. Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire.

Akinola has been the foremost proponent of a law that not only would have banned equal marriage rights, but also would have prohibited gays from forming their own organizations and assembling together for any reason, including protests for equal rights. While the proposed law has been at least temporarily shelved, homosexuality in Nigeria is already punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment.

To promote the anti-gay schism within the church, Bishop Akinola recently traveled to Virginia to ordain the leader of a local church there as "bishop" of an anti-gay faction within the American church. As gay author and blogger Wayne Besen observed, it says something about Akinola's anti-gay fanaticism that he would travel to the United States for the sole purpose of leading an anti-gay crusade while at the same time, 50% of his countrymen live in abject poverty earning less than $1 a day and 200 people died in recent election violence. Mac-Iyalla himself was recently forced to flee Nigeria thanks to repeated death threats brought on by the hate campaign led by Christian and Muslim leaders in the country.

While in Chicago, Mac-Iyalla has made a number of media appearances including:

* Gay Liberation Network's program on CAN TV last Friday night (we hope to post an electronic file of the program on our website, www.GayLiberation.net, fairly soon)

* Last Saturday on WLUW’FM’s “Live From the Hearthland” (again, we hope to post an electronic file of this soon)

* Last week a front page interview in Windy City Times

* A show on the most popular LGBT podcast in the world, Feast of Fools – listen to it here

* An article in the forthcoming issue of the Chicago Free Press – see www.chicagofreepress.com after Wednesday

* A large, front page article on Monday in the Chicago Tribune’s Metro Section, with a large color photo

* A feature on Mitchell Szczepanczyk's “Ministry of Truth” program on WHPK-FM (88.5 FM) – a file of the show will be posted by next week at www.Szcz.org

* A long interview on Chicago Public Radio’s “Worldview” program with Jerome MacDonald. The show will be broadcast at 12 noon and 9 pm on Thursday or at 12 noon on Friday. It will be archived at www.wbez.org

The repression of the rights of lesbians and gays in Nigeria must be seen within a worldwide context of the struggle for the right of Lesbian, Gay, Bi and Trans people to organize. Gay Pride demonstrations have been suppressed across most of Eastern Europe over the past few years, most often with neofascist thugs physically attacking non-violent Pride demonstrators and the authorities then arresting the non-violent demonstrators, most recently this past Sunday in Moscow.

In most cases local religious leaders from all denominations -- Christian, Jewish and Muslim -- have called for the legal banning of these gay Pride demonstrations and in some cases have issued statements also calling for physical violence against them. In some areas, local pride organizers have reported that they have learned that U.S.-based far-right religious outfits have funded the thugs that have attacked the pride demonstrations.

Fortunately, in country after country, some lesbian and gay people have stood up to these attacks. In Poland, just a few weeks ago, LGBT people held their first "legal" pride march of 20,000 people in Warsaw after years of opposition by the national Catholic Church, suppression by the authorities, and physical attacks by neofascist thugs.

Please join us at 7 PM, Friday, June 8 at St. Peter's Episcopal Church, 621 W. Belmont Avenue, to learn about what lesbians and gays in Nigeria are doing to stop anti-gay repression in their country, and what we can do to help them.


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