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/

Press

STATEMENT ISSUED ON MONDAY OCTOBER 29, 2018 ON THE UNTIMELY DEATH OF A NIGERIAN YOUTH RABIU RABINA BAMANGA GRUESOMELY MURDERED IN THE FEDERAL CAPITAL TERRITORY, ABUJA NIGERIA

The entire Nigerians

It is with sadness in our hearts that we bring to your notice the untimely death of a law abiding NigeriancitizenRABIU RABINA BAMANGA and Peer Educator at TIP for Human Rights in the FCT Abuja Nigeria who was brutally killed and buried in a shallow grave with some body parts exposed and covered with mattress at Ruga, Federal Capital Territory Abuja Nigeria.

We condemn the killing of Rabiu a law abiding citizen of Nigeria and human rights activist who until this death was contributing to ending HIV infection and supporting attainment of human rights through a non-governmental organisation. Until the issuing of this statement, we have not received any information with regards to the reason behind this gruesome murder of a law abiding citizen, whose right to life has been so annoyingly snuffed out. This is one death too many to bear! Recently we issued a statement condemning the incessant and constant harassment of innocent Nigerian youths.  The above named was contributing to securing the rights of all Nigerians and was brutally murdered and buried in a space that should be referred as safe space. This death is totallyunacceptable and unjustifiable!

This is an outrage to Interfaith Diversity Network of West Africa, a regional network of activists, faith based individuals, advocates and individual activists working for inclusion of diverse persons to create a world governed by respect and dignity.

We seek a day where all persons irrespective of religious beliefs become great allies in the quest for a safe and free society for all humans. It is therefore a slap in our faces to receive information on the cutting down of a harmless Nigerian youth who was providing service to make Nigeria a better place!

We strongly believe that humans are born free and equal and should enjoy their full human rights and achieve their full potentials in a safe and loving society irrespective of background and belief.

As a West African network, we demand that the perpetrators be identified and brought to justice and receive punishment commensurate with the crime they have committed against another Nigerian.THE KILLER(S) OF RABIURABINA BAMANGA MUST BE FOUND AND JUSTICE MUST BE SERVED!

In solidarity,

Davis Mac-Iyalla,

Executive Director

Interfaith Diversity Network of West Africa (IDNoWA)

Events, Press

Engaging with religious leaders in West Africa

IDNOWA hosted activists and experts at Capital Hills Hotel, Cape Coast Ghana  this past week (4th-7th October 2018)
The event focused on kick-starting the process of developing a curriculum for training on engaging with religious leaders in West Africa.
A special thanks to COC Netherlands,  who sponsored the event and are our partners in their Pride Project as well as our partners from the Global Interfaith Network (GIN) who facilitated the event.
Stay tuned for upcoming events!
Press

76Crimes: New W. African interfaith group fights anti-LGBTI bias

Progressive faith leaders and activists from West Africa have joined forces to work to end anti-LGBTI bias in the region and seek “a world governed by respect and dignity.”

The new Interfaith Diversity Network of West Africa (IDNoWA) includes members from Nigeria, Togo, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Liberia. Continue reading “76Crimes: New W. African interfaith group fights anti-LGBTI bias”

Press

GIN-SSOGIE: Interfaith Diversity Network of West Africa launches – interview with Davis Mac-Iyalla

GIN member, Davis Mac-Iyalla, third from left above, is an award winning Nigerian Anglo/Catholic gay Christian and founder/director of Interfaith Diversity Network of West Africa.  Davis is a well-known gay Christian Activist who has been an advocate for LGBTI rights for over 20 years, a public speaker, researcher and author and is often asked to speak on the plight of LGBT Christians in West Africa. He is currently based in London, UK, his second home after Nigeria, West Africa.

  1. Could you please let us know a little about the Interfaith Diversity Network of West Africa (IDNOWA)?

Continue reading “GIN-SSOGIE: Interfaith Diversity Network of West Africa launches – interview with Davis Mac-Iyalla”

Press

RightsAfrica: Nigeria: 100+ youths face homosexuality charges in court

Over 100 young persons who were arrested in Asaba, Nigeria, and alleged to be gays and lesbians are now facing homosexuality-related charges in court.

The young persons were all arrested at a birthday party last month at Delta Park Hotel in Asaba, Delta State.

A statement released by the Interfaith Diversity Network of West Africa [IDONWA], a regional network of human rights activists and faith-based individuals who have been actively working on the case, revealed that the network paid for the release of some of the arrested persons and the families of the arrested persons were made to pay substantial sums of money to bail their wards.

Continue reading “RightsAfrica: Nigeria: 100+ youths face homosexuality charges in court”

Press

76Crimes: Interfaith activists seek stronger role in fighting AIDS

Interfaith activists at last week’s anti-AIDS conference in Ivory Coast pushed for an expanded role for progressive faith-based groups in combating HIV and AIDS.

Statement by the Interfaith Diversity Network of West Africa, issued at the 19th session of the ICASA conference, held in Côte d’Ivoire, Dec 4-9, 2017: Continue reading “76Crimes: Interfaith activists seek stronger role in fighting AIDS”

Press

WashingtonBlade: First West Africa LGBT-inclusive religious gathering takes place

An LGBT-inclusive African faith network held its first event late last month.

More than 30 delegates from 10 West African countries gathered in Ghana from Aug. 24-28 for the Interfaith Diversity Network of West Africa’s first-ever interfaith diversity event, which was themed “Building Bridges, Sharing Stories, Creating Hope.”

On Aug. 24, there was an introductory session for delegates to share their personal stories and outreach programs to support their fellow LGBT people. The participants who were from Benin, Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Gambia, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali and Togo told passionate stories of judgment, denial, shame, violence, rape, hatred and pain.

Continue reading “WashingtonBlade: First West Africa LGBT-inclusive religious gathering takes place”