LGBTQI: Inter-religious group chides Biden, says threat contravenes sovereignty, democracy of nations

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The National Inter-Faith and Religious Organizations for Peace (NIFROP) has frowned at U.S president, Joe Biden’s threat of sanction on countries opposed to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI) laws.

The leadership of the renowned inter-religious group, at a press conference, on Friday, in Abuja, said Biden’s stance is anti-democratic and contrary to the sovereignty nations of the world should enjoy. 

In his first foreign policy speech, the new president ordered all U.S government agencies active abroad to promote the rights of LGBTQI people and to come up with plans within 180 days. 

Among others, Biden threatened financial and travel ban to countries like Nigeria with Same-Sex-Marriage (Prohibition) laws. 

But making its stance known through Director, Public Enlightenment, Bishop Ugo Ugokwe, NIFROP cautioned Biden that Nigeria’s values and beliefs do not encourage relationships between same-sex sexual partners. 

The cleric wondered that as the so-called ‘God’s own country’, the U.S has completely negated the teachings of the Bible with regards to same-sex cohabitation. 

NIFROP, however, in strong terms rejected the position of the U.S, adding that it views the threat as “despicable and must be retracted with an unreserved apology to the Nigerian people”. 

As a sovereign nation, it reminded the United States that Nigeria deserves the right to initiate policies that protect the interest of the generality of its people. 

According to the group, the issue of LGBTQI remains a matter of values and beliefs and not compulsion evident in the threat issued by the Joe Biden administration.

The National Inter-Faith and Religious Organizations for Peace further called on all well-meaning individuals and countries to resist this threat. 

Read the full statement below:

The National Inter-Faith and Religious Organizations for Peace (NIFROP) welcomes you all to this press conference in light of the recent statement issued by the United States of America threatening to impose financial and visa sanctions on countries that fail to offer protection to LGBTQI people worldwide. 

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It is imperative to state that the stance of the United States of America toward the entrenchment of rights for lesbians, gays, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning is indeed questionable as it infringes on the sovereignty of nations, including Nigeria. 

The President of the United States of America has displayed a gross disregard for the sovereignty of Nigeria by stating that when “When foreign governments move to restrict the rights of LGBTQI+ persons or fail to enforce legal protections in place, thereby contributing to a climate of intolerance, agencies engaged abroad shall consider appropriate responses, including using the full range of diplomatic and assistance tools and, as appropriate, financial sanctions, visa restrictions, and other actions”.

This is on the heels that Nigeria is a sovereign country that is governed by laws just like the United States of America. The anti-gay laws in Nigeria prescribe between 10 and 14 years in prison for anyone caught flouting the law either by cohabitation between same-sex sexual partners, public show of same-sex relationship, registration, operation, or participation in gay clubs, societies, and organization, amongst others.

The National Inter-Faith and Religious Organizations for Peace is obliged to state that our values and beliefs do not encourage relationships between same-sex sexual partners for it runs afoul of the biblical injunction in the Book of Romans 1: 26-27 “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way, the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.” This was further emphasized in the Book of Leviticus 18:22 “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.”

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It thus remains that the United States of America that claims to be God’s own country has completely negated the teachings of the Bible with regards to same-sex cohabitation and therefore it is an affront to our sensibilities as Nigerians for the United States to want to impose such on Nigerians. 

We completely reject the position of the United States of America in this regard and view the threat to impose sanctions as despicable and must be retracted with an unreserved apology to the Nigerian people. 

Nigeria as a sovereign country deserves the right to initiate policies that protect the interest of the generality of the Nigerian people and it suffices to state that same-sex relationships are not one of the values that we hold going by our orientation as a people from time immemorial. 

The United States of America must understand that even in their country, there are divergent opinions on same-sex as evident in the stance of the immediate past administration of President Donald Trump, wherein it weakened the protection for LGBT community by rolling back non-discrimination protections for such people seeking the services of health and welfare programs funded by the US Department of Health and Human Services.  

The implication is that the issue of LGBT remains a matter of values and beliefs and not compulsion evident in the threat issued by the Joe Biden administration which by all intent and purposes is capable of threatening the fragile peace experienced in the world. 

The United States of America must do well not to impose its belief system on independent countries, Nigeria inclusive because that would amount to a fundamental breach typical of intolerant and dictatorial countries on the sovereignty of countries of the world. 

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It remains an undemocratic act that must not be allowed to thrive because of the larger consequences in the future. The United States of America must do well to respect the rights of countries unless it intends to return to colonialism through the back door.  

The National Inter-Faith and Religious Organizations for Peace is stating that the threats issued by the United States of America is misplaced and herby advise the President of the United States of America to follow the path of caution in the introduction and implementation of policies as it concerns other sovereign countries in the world. 

The directive to the State Department to include anti-LGBTQ violence, discrimination, and laws in its annual human rights report is an anomaly that should be resisted by all well-meaning individuals and countries. 

The National Inter-Faith and Religious Organizations for Peace stands firm in condemning the stance of the United States of America and wishes to emphasize that under no circumstance should the government of Nigeria succumb to any form of pressure through threats of sanctions. 

We thank you for your time and attention in this regard. 

God bless Nigeria.

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