OTTAWA, January 21, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – African media is reporting that a state visit by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan to Canada planned for February has been canceled by the Canadian government because Jonathan signed his country’s controversial homosexuality law.
The law imposes a 14-year prison sentence on anyone who enters a “same-sex marriage contract or civil union” or aids and abets such an action. It also bans public displays of affection between homosexuals, along with gay clubs and organizations.
SaharaReporters.com reports that sources in Abuja said the Nigerian ambassador to Canada, Ojo Madueke, was told by an undisclosed Canadian official to inform President Jonathan that the state visit to Canada scheduled for February 13-14, 2014 had been scrapped.
Attempts by LifeSiteNews to reach the Nigerian High Commission in Ottawa for a statement were unsuccessful.
Canada.com reported that its attempts to verify the African media reports through the office of Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird were also unsuccessful, with the Foreign Affairs department stating only that “no visit is scheduled” and that the government looked forward to welcoming the Nigerian president “at a future date.”
John Baird is well known for pushing homosexual rights as a key component of Canada's foreign policy.
In October 2012, Baird denounced Uganda at an international summit in Quebec City for actions he believed violate homosexual rights. Uganda has consistently stood against pressure from international gay activists and the UN to accept Western sexual values, passing in 2005 a constitutional amendment that criminalized same-sex ‘marriage’ and specified that “marriage is lawful only if entered into between a man and a woman.”
The speaker of the Ugandan Parliament accused Baird at that time of harboring a “colonial attitude” towards African nations and meddling in the country’s internal affairs.
In reaction to the new Nigerian law against homosexuality, Baird said he was “deeply concerned” about Nigeria's Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act.
“We call on Nigeria to repeal this law and to promote and protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Nigerians regardless of their sexual orientation,” Baird said in a press release on January 13.
“Canada has clearly spoken out against human rights violations committed against people on the basis of their sexuality, and we will continue to do so,” Baird said.
However, the new law has been praised by most Nigerian pro-family and religious groups and has widespread popular support.
Alhaji Ahmed Gulak, President Jonathan's special adviser on political affairs, defended the president's approval of the law, and slammed foreign governments for not respecting Nigerian cultural sensibilities and religious beliefs.
“The hostile reaction of Europeans and the United States to the recent signing into law of the bill that outlaws marriages and sexual relations between people of the same sex has not taken into consideration the socio-cultural differences between people of different racial backgrounds, and more importantly the religious beliefs of our people,” Gulak told the AllAfrica news service.
“What the anti-gay law has tried to achieve is to protect and promote family values as we know it from the start,” Gulak explained, adding that there is no way homosexual “marriages” would accelerate his nation's socio-economic progress.
REAL Women of Canada, which has been highly critical of Minister Baird for imposing what the group says is “his own perspective on homosexuality,” called the reported cancellation of President Jonathan's visit to Canada “hypocritical.”
“We can surmise that Mr. Baird is demonstrating his opposition to the Nigerian legislation on homosexuality and same-sex marriage,” said Gwen Landolt, the group’s National Vice-President, “but remains silent on the matter apparently so as not to antagonize that oil rich country and derail Canada’s commercial ties with it.”
“He may also be concerned about antagonizing conservative voters who do not like his pushing a homosexual agenda on a country which has a different socio-cultural, racial, and religious background,” Landolt said.
“Mr. Baird is treading a very thin line trying to have it both ways. He may end up undiplomatically, antagonizing everyone,” she concluded.