This is a press release from the Gay & Lesbian Humanist Association
The Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (GALHA) has condemned the recent arrest of leading Nigerian humanist Leo Igwe, who was detained on January 5th, along with his 77-year-old diabetic father. While they have since been released on bail, Mr Igwe complained that both had been threatened, and denied food and water. This appears to be part of a pattern of repeated harassment of Mr Igwe and of several members of his immediate family.
Mr Igwe has consistently defended humanism and gay rights in Nigeria in the face of a religiously motivated onslaught. In particular he has denounced attempts to increase penalties for consensual gay relationships.
GALHA Secretary David Christmas commented.
“Leo Igwe’s arrest appears to be totally without valid legal justification, but also looks to be part of a wave of politically and religiously motivated persecution mixed up with corruption that is sweeping across Africa, aiming to intimidate and silence anyone who does not conform to the narrowest and most intolerant interpretations of religion, especially those of Christianity and Islam.
“Targets obviously include humanists, who argue for reason and fact based values, and also gay people, along with those fighting for democracy and against corruption. While the situation is different in Nigeria, Uganda, Malawi and Zimbabwe, it is the internationally organised force of religious bigotry that is oppressing the general population in each of them, and trying to use gay people as a convenient scapegoat for wider social problems.
“Humanists and gay people in the West should not assume that we can continue to exist in a relatively comfortable and tolerant “bubble” while basic human rights are trampled on in Africa and in many other parts of the world. Self interest as well as decency requires action.
“GALHA calls for all charges against Leo to be dropped and for an end to the persecution of humanists and gay people in Nigeria. We call upon the British Government and the EU to use all practicable means to encourage this. We also call upon Christian and Moslem religious leaders to respect the rights of ordinary people of all faiths and none, gay and straight to lead their lives free from interference and intimidation, both in Nigeria and across the continent.”