Post submitted by Rebecca Parks, former Associate Director, HRC Global
Almost two weeks ago Nigeria enacted one of the world’s most repressive anti-LGBT laws, criminalizing same-sex marriage and outlawing membership in organizations promoting equality. Since then, world business and governmental leaders from John Kerry to Richard Branson have reacted with swift condemnation. But there are some Americans who have welcomed this egregious crackdown on equality and freedom of expression and assembly with open arms.
On their Faith and Freedom radio program this week, Liberty University Dean Mat Staver and his co-host Matt Barber praised Nigeria for “reaffirming marriage as one man and one woman” and “rejecting this radicalized homosexual agenda.” Barber even speculated that anti-LGBT laws around the world “have a way of coming full circle” back to the U.S. “Former homosexual” activist Christopher Doyle also jumped on the bandwagon, claiming that crackdowns on LGBT rights in Uganda, Nigeria, Russia and India were a “response to what they're seeing in Western cultures.”
The American effort to promote harsh anti-gay laws in Nigeria actually began years ago. Family Watch International leader Sharon Slater traveled to the country in 2009 and urged Nigerian leaders to stand as role models for policies that support “family values in the face of intense international pressure.” Radio host Janet Mefferd was also an early supporter of Nigeria’s right to criminalize homosexuality in 2011. American conservatives have also responded with outrage to every effort by the U.S. government to protect the rights of LGBT people around the world. Pat Robertson called these policies “appalling” and Family Research Council’s Peter Sprigg said that tying foreign aid to requirements that countries respect their LGBT citizens was “unconscionable.”
The consequences of this law have been immediate and severe. At least 38 men have been arrested on suspicion of being gay and police have employed torture to force the men to give up names of others. In the last week alone, a northern Nigeria man was lashed 20 times for sodomy and 11 others are on trial for their lives. These are the policies supported by Staver, Barber, Doyle and their allies. The American exporters of hate have been spreading their message of intolerance all over the world from Russia to Uganda and now to Nigeria and their efforts are taking a toll on real people who are living in fear of losing their freedom or their lives.