The Senate during the week passed the anti Same-Sex Marriage Bill prohibiting all marriages between man and man and between woman and woman. The Bill, sponsored by Senator Magnus Abe, PDP, Rivers, prescribes 14 years jail term for anybody convicted of contracting marriage between same sexes. It also prescribes 10 years for anybody convicted of aiding and abetting the contraction of same sex marriage in Nigeria and also nullifies certificate of same sex marriage contracted outside the shores of Nigeria.
The act also kicked against the operation of gay clubs in Nigeriawith a punishment of 10 years jail term without option of fine for anybody guilty of operating gay clubs within the country. It would be recalled that in 2008, News of the People sometime ago reported a story about a gay pastor, Reverend Rowland who was running a church secretly in Nigeria. The Church, called “House of Rainbow” was situated at No 36/38 Yakoyo street, Ojodu Berger, Lagos. The initial reaction about his exposure was that such a church could not exist within Nigeria as such things are common outside the country. But uproar in the Anglican Communion in Europe on gay bishops brought up the case of Reverend Rowland, a Nigerian, who was residing in Lagos. He was also operating his gay church in Lagos. In his plot 145 Flat 1, Jakande Estate, Isolo, Lagos, where Rev. Macaulay, the gay pastor lived, the apartment was locked. It was learnt that the Reverend left his house on Saturday, September 13, 2008 immediately after the story was broken of his homosexual church. According to the neighbours, the Sunday service was unable to hold both at the Jakande Estate branch and the Ojodu headquarters of “House of Rainbow Ministries” after that publication.
Right now, Rev. Rowland has relocated abroad where he is presently running his gay church, “House of Rainbow Fellowship”. According to his statement on the internet, “My Church is a voice of the younger generation of citizens, activists, and Diaspora, and our collective belief in a more progressive Nigeria. They are afraid of our growing influence as we gather allies not just from the West, a people that are not afraid but powerful and resilient. We can reveal that right now, they are spreading their tentacles to every village, town and city around the world”. The Church is also calling on faithful and dedicated local leaders who believe in homosexuality and lesbianism. Ten House of Rainbow Fellowship local leaders are in Ghana, Nigeria, UK, Burundi, and Lesotho.
According to the gay pastor, “any negative effect on the anti-gay bill will have detrimental effect on the work and mission of House of Rainbow in Nigeria. The lives of LGBTI people and their friends, families and allies will be further frustrated with fear and prejudice. We need to pray and stand up against injustice”. Nigeria is kicking against the practice of same sex marriage where homosexuality is punishable by up to 14 years in prison, so it might be a terrible time for both gay and religious leaders who are in support of this practice.
Meanwhile, Rev Rowland Jide Macaulay, the gay minister, who founded the church, is leading a comeback even though he remains in self-imposed exile in London. “Religion is a backbone to life in Nigeria, so we all want to go to church,” he said. “But we don’t want to lie to God about who we are.” Macaulay first set up House of Rainbow in 2006, where he openly held Sunday services in aLagos hotel hall decorated in rainbow colours. A public backlash culminated in members being beaten as they left the church. Macaulay fled to theUK after receiving death threats. This year, he has recruited a small team that includes his local leaders inLagos in his voluntary role. The project could even spread beyond the borders ofAfrica’s most populous country. Macaulay has recently recruited a local leader inAccra, the capital of nearbyGhana. He is considering applications fromRwanda andZimbabwe.