Blog, Press

A Response to the remarks made by Nigerian Catholic Priest Fr. Kelvin Ugwu On Why Homosexuals are allowed to marry in Catholic Church

Recently Fr. Kelvin Ugwu, a Nigerian Catholic Priest spoke out about his views of Gay marriage .

It was a very confusing article from the go with Fr Kelvin saying that being homosexual is not normal and that such people need help.  Later in the article he says he does not think homosexuals should be condemn but then spends the rest of the article doing just that.

Fr. Kelvin says he has done extensive research on the topic of homosexuality but he only ever quotes from articles and research from the early 70’s and 80’s  which have all been superseded by much more modern thinking and research about the LGBT community. However, Fr. Kelvin completely disregards this more modern reports. He goes on to say that Pope Francis recent remarks on gay marriage and LGBT community in the church have been totally misquoted and misunderstood.

Fr Kelvin begins the article saying he feels forced to accept homosexual people but totally disagree with the notion that it is a natural behaviour for humans to be homosexual. He says that homosexuals like to justify their behaviour by comparing homosexual behaviour in animals. He does not believe this can be be used as an argument in favour of such behaviour in humans as normal.

Then again, I say, nor should the absence of homosexual animal behaviour be used as an argument that homosexuality among humans is ‘against nature’. Platon and Christian authors from antiquity have made such arguments before that form the basis of the ‘against nature’ argument.

Interestingly, Fr Kelvin does not speak in terms of ‘against nature’, but writes, ‘not normal’. The word normal in fact has 2 meanings: the average and then also the normative. Fr. Kelvin does not make it clear about which meaning he is referring to.

Fr Kelvin says he ‘stumbled’ on a manual of mental disorders published in 1968 by the APA (American Psychiatric Association) which says that homosexuality is a mental disorder. He says that gay activists ‘threatened APA with strong words’ to make them remove this which they did in 1973.

Fr Kelvin is using a myth. No member was ever forced to vote for the removal of homosexuality as a mental disorder; they responded to a change of social reality which made them understand that homosexuals are mentally completely functioning. Is Fr. Kelvin insinuating that lesbian and gays are mentally ill? In Germany, they compared this kind of collective understanding with that of the hunting of witches, which was also based on irrational myths and beliefs.

Fr. Kelvin talks about actions that former US President Obama did to Uganda over their anti-gay laws.  He never elaborates what actions he is talking about nor do I remember what he did, but I do know that Obama acted against the death penalty for same-sex sexual acts. Fr Kelvin does not mention this grave punishment at all. Why is he silent about this? He, instead, uses simple anti-colonial rhetoric by connecting anti-homosexual statements found on Facebook with access to visas.

Fr Kelvin seems to believe that Pope Francis has been misquoted. He wants to make us believe that the Pope is just a nice guy to everybody; that the Pope has no clear understanding of what he says. He does not take into consideration that Francis did really want to say what he said. By this, Fr. Kelvin shows no respect to the Pope.

In addition, as a Catholic priest, Fr. Kelvin says nothing on what he, himself does to welcome LGBT people in his own parish. What kind of pastoral care does he offer to them? How does he follow the numerous examples that Pope Francis has given?

A recent article in Independent Catholic News (Matthew Charlesworth SJ- https://www.indcatholicnews.com/news/40759) talks about a new documentary by Evgeny Afineevsky entitled ‘Francesco’ in which the Pope is reported to say, ‘Homosexual people have a right to be in a family … They are children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or made miserable over it.’

This is obviously a continuity of the opinion that the pope holds on civil unions because he already supported them when he was archbishop in Buenos Aires. He considers same-sex couples in the framework of the family and accepts that they need to have rights in order to live undisturbed.

Fr. Kelvin, on the other hand, does not come close to understanding this perspective at all.  He does not use the framework of human rights when it comes to LGBT people.

But I do agree on one thing that Fr. Kelvin says at the end of his report, indeed do ‘pray for your Christian Leaders’ and do ‘prayer for the Pope.’ However, I suspect I might well be praying for a very different outcome.

Davis Mac-Iyalla
October 2020

Blog, Press

The Misuse of freedom of speech – A Nation’s tragedy

“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

― United Nations, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

There is no doubt that the Freedom of Speech is one of the greatest human rights any person can have and yet it is also one of the greatest to be trampled on in the world today.

One of the biggest misconceptions nowadays is that our freedom of speech not only can be exercised but should be exercised at any cost.  The problem with the world today is that everyone believes they have the right to express their opinion AND have others listen to it no matter what that might do to the feelings of others.  Freedom of speech in 2020 has been abused and misused mainly by the media.

The most attentive and influential use of freedom of speech is through the elements of the media. This spans from public speaking to news reports, to social media. In the world today, these mediums have become discriminative, unpleasant and in many cases, just downright barbarous.

We have seen the social media space fill up with malicious content, trolling and cyber bullying. It seems that the anonymity that social media can provide leads to many users to believe they can say whatever they want while hiding behind their online profile. But even the print media is adorned with writeups and commentaries that contest people’s fundamental human rights.

In Ghana or Nigeria, we see the majority use media as a tool for driving injustice and infringing on constitutional human rights. When it comes to expressing opinions, people do not have a problem doing so either by phone, email, social media or even in person. However, the global nature of online media means the abuse is immediate and far reaching. 

The ease of accessibility to social media means that anyone can express their opinions to the downfallof another person simply because they do not like the person or what the person may represent.

Some 3.5 billion people in the world today connect via social media.  That is 45% of the world population. Social media can bring people closer together, form links across social and economic divide; bring minority groups togetherfor positive reinforcement; but too often it is used to judge others, to belittle minorities, groups and individuals. Social media is becoming a forum where judging others is the norm and there is an increase in people crossing the boundaries of constitutional rights.

Freedom of speech is scaling new heights everyday but with disregard of the consequences of misusing it; consequences that include suicide and social suicide. People become so engulfed in their virtual lives that that they often fail to realise that the quest for social media relevance may be tied to another’s downfall.

Celebrities, politicians, authors, and the general public, are exposed to cruel and perverted individuals who believe that they can say whatever they want, whenever they want to say it no matter what the consequences may be. Various mainstream issues such as gay rights, feminism, equal pay or gender equality are being fuelled by people who are ignorant to culture, because they feel the need to express what they believe despite being politically incorrect.

Yes, freedom of speech dies give us the right to express how we feel, but it does not give us the right to degrade, humiliate, curse or abuse people.

Social media has changed the way we live our lives. From the way we get our news to the way we interact with our loved ones. Social media is everywhere. It’s unavoidable, it’s powerful, and it’s here to stay, but this form of freedom of speech should not be misused, abused, and thrown around, like trash.

People, we need to think before speaking; before typing.  We need to show empathy, see past what we disagree with and not hide behind our online profile.

Freedom of speech is a beautiful thing; a great human right, but it is also dangerous and we need to use it with responsibility.

Davis Mac-Iyalla

Executive Director Interfaith Diversity Network of West Africa

Fellow, Outright International Advocacy UN Religious Program 2020

Blog, Press

World Congress of Families to Boost Export of LGBTIQ-phobia in West Africa

The World Congress of Families (WCF), designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, announced last week that a regional conference would be held on October 31 and November 1 in Accra, Ghana, marking an expansion of its right-wing fundamentalist agenda in West Africa.

 Formed in Russia in 1997 by American right-wing thinkers and Russian counterparts, the World Congress of Families is one of the major driving forces of the global promotion of an anti-choice and anti-LGBTIQ agenda. Using pseudo-human rights language about the rights of the family, the child, and freedom of religion, WCF promotes conservative ideologies centered around concepts of “natural law” and “natural family” through laws criminalizing LGBTIQ people and sexual and reproductive health and rights, in particular abortion, both at a national and international level.

Davis Mac-Iyalla, Executive Director, Interfaith Diversity Network of West Africa, comments:

“It is extremely concerning to see the group expand its interest in West-Africa; its presence will undoubtedly increase social stigma and discrimination against LGBTIQ people, especially those living with HIV/AIDS. Same-sex relations are still criminalized in the majority of the region, violence, and harassment of LGBTIQ people are ripe, so LGBTIQ people are already living in hiding and in fear for their lives. We fear that the congress will come with an even harsher agenda, and ample resources for increasing hate against LGBTIQ people in West Africa.”

WCF is well-connected, well-resourced and influential, and has, to a greater or lesser degree, influenced the passing of barbaric laws such as the anti-homosexuality act in Uganda, the same-sex marriage prohibition act in Nigeria, and the notorious so-called gay-propaganda law in Russia.

Jessica Stern, Executive Director of OutRight Action International, comments:

This is not the first instance of American Evangelicals and organizations exporting homophobia and transphobia around the world. Their agenda stands in stark contrast to basic human rights standards, instead openly inciting attacks on human dignity, and promoting a long out-dated world of religious domination and stark gender inequalities. We have to work across civil society and state boundaries to support activists in West Africa and ensure that an already hostile environment for LGBTIQ people and women does not become even more so.

The congress brings together participants from right-wing civil society organizations, such as Citizen Go and Family Watch International, religious groups, as well as elected officials, religious leaders, scholars and others. It provides a platform for strategizing on further promotion of the fundamentalist agenda.

Taken from

https://www.curvemag.com/News/World-Congress-of-Families-to-Boost-Export-of-LGBTIQ-phobia-in-West-Africa/

Blog, Events, Uncategorized

The First Speakers Bureau Training

 

Interfaith Diversity Network of West Africa held it first Speakers Bureau Training from the 11-14 July 2019 at The Capitol Hill Hotel Cape Coast.

Participants attended from Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Ghana. The training was first of its kind in West Africa and the main objective was to empower IDNOWA members on how to engage with religious leaders, state actors and the media more professionally.

 

 

 

Events

ILGA World Conference, Wellington, New Zealand 2019

IDNOWA as a proud member of ILGA were able to attend this conference.  We took part in an inter-faith pre-conferences, workshops and various panels.  On our arrival, we were sadden to hear about the shootings in Christ Church.  We were able to attend the vigil for the 50 Muslims that were killed at Christ Church.

We took part in the regional pan-African Caucus of ILGA, contributing to strategies and organising the next conference in West Africa.

At the conference, we were able to establish links with other inter-faith networks and groups who were also attending the conference.

Davis Mac-Iyalla, Executive Director, along with other partners organised a workshop called “Freedom for all” LGBTI, Women, HIV/AIDS – By countering Religious Right. The workshop was well attended.  Participants engaged and learnt more about West Africa and the impact of colonisation on women and LGBTI groups.