WASHINGTON, D.C., January 15, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and other top diplomatic brass are criticizing the African nation of Nigeria after President Goodluck Jonathan signed a new law banning same-sex “marriage.”
Both Secretary Kerry and his predecessor, Hillary Clinton, have said that promoting the gay “rights” agenda around the world is a “top priority” for U.S. foreign policymakers.
“The United States is deeply concerned by Nigeria’s enactment of the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act,” Secretary Kerry said in a statement Monday. “It is inconsistent with Nigeria’s international legal obligations and undermines the democratic reforms and human rights protections enshrined in its 1999 Constitution.”
U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said via Twitter that she was “deeply troubled” by President Jonathan’s decision to sign the law. She told CNN she thought it was a “big setback for human rights for all Nigerians.”
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. Since enforcement began last week, the law has reportedly resulted in some arrests – although there are disputes about how many were actually arrested.
The law was passed by the Nigerian House and Senate with widespread public support in the strongly religious nation, whose population is split about equally between Christians and Muslims. But it could lead to sanctions or intimidation tactics from the West, where U.S. and U.N. officials have made advancing homosexual acceptance in developing nations a top priority in recent years.
Previously, Western nations have gone so far as to make humanitarian aid payments dependent on recipients’ adoption of more liberal policies toward homosexuality, for example, in Malawi, where the U.S. and Germany in 2011 held back more than $350 million in aid unless the impoverished country abandoned its laws prohibiting sodomy.
When the Nigerian bill was being debated in the Senate, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said he thought there ought to be more “strings attached” to foreign aid, and that he would also consider cutting off aid to countries that failed to toe the liberal Western line on homosexuality.
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At the time Ghanaian President John Evans Atta Mills responded to Cameron’s threat with a strongly worded official statement vowing to forgo all aid rather than cave to the homosexual agenda. “I, as president of this nation will never initiate or support any attempts to legalize homosexuality in Ghana,” Mills said. “While we acknowledge all the financial assistance and all the aid which has been given to us by our development partners, we will not accept any aid with ‘strings attached’ if that aid will not inure to our interests, or [if] the implementation—or the utilization—of that aid-with-strings-attached would rather worsen our plight as a nation, or destroy the very society that we want to use the money to improve.”
Several other African leaders also reacted with anger to Cameron’s words, including Ugandan presidential adviser John Nagenda, who told the BBC that he thought Cameron’s “bullying mentality” was “very wrong.”
Indeed, the strong-arm approach appears to be backfiring, as some African countries – such as Nigeria and Uganda – have reacted to Western pressure over homosexuality by introducing even stronger laws against its practice.
“By pushing the homosexuality agenda … as we’re pushing that onto African countries, we’re actually making it harder on people who are homosexual in those countries,” Faith McDonnell, Director of Religious Liberty Programs and of the Church Alliance for a New Sudan, told LifeSiteNews. “Where before, they might have been able to just be homosexual in the country, once the issue becomes so politicized, some of the governments are saying, ‘No, we don’t want this at all,’ because they see where it’s leading in [the United States].”
McDonnell pointed to a controversial measure passed by the Ugandan parliament last month that would punish anyone found guilty of “aggravated homosexuality” with life in prison. (A previous version of the bill had prescribed the death penalty, but the bill was rewritten after international outcry.) The bill’s text explicitly states that the reason for its introduction was to protect the “legal, religious, and traditional family values of the people of Uganda against the attempts of sexual rights activists seeking to impose their values of sexual promiscuity on the people of Uganda.”
“It’s the pressure of the liberals in the West,” McDonnell told LSN, “the pressure of the Obama Administration and gay activists [that leads countries like Nigeria and Uganda to pass such strict laws], because they see what’s coming down the road. They see what happened to our country, and they don’t want it to happen to theirs.”
McDonnell said she believes Western nations’ focus on the homosexual agenda for Africa is at least partially an attempt to cover for their failure to address the real human rights problems facing the world’s poorest continent – specifically, the rise of Islamic extremism and subsequent persecution of Christians and other non-Muslims.
“The biggest human rights issue facing Africa today is the Jihadist movement trying to take over the continent,” McDonnell said. “But they don’t even want to touch issues like the persecution of Christians by Islamists because of political correctness.” According to McDonnell, agitating for homosexual rights makes liberal Western leaders feel like they are doing something to help Africans, but in fact they are only fanning the flames of radicalism on the continent as their promotion of homosexuality offends Muslims and Christians alike.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama has been increasingly vocal in his insistence that Africa abandon its deeply held values to keep up with Western progressives. During his $100 million tour of the continent last summer, the president managed to offend a number of heads of state over the issue of homosexuality, including Senegalese President Macky Sall and Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto – who told an audience at a Catholic Mass that while “America has made tremendous contribution to Kenya’s well-being and we are very grateful and as a government we are ready to receive any help from America that will improve the lives of our people … for these other things we hear, it is none of our business as it goes against our customs and traditions.”
Added Ruto, “Those who believe in other things, that is their business. We believe in God.”