MAKURDI—Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has cautioned gays to stay away from the state, warning that his administration would "not spare anyone caught practicing homosexuality in the state," according to a report in Vanguard News.
The governor gave the warning when he hosted the Prelate of the Anglican Communion of Nigeria, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, in Makurdi, the state capital Tuesday.
This is what he reportedly said:
“Gay lifestyle is alien to the customs, lifestyles, and the belief of Africans and the church, even though it is being promoted in the Western world.
“I sincerely pray that a revival would spring from Benue State and produce evangelists that would drive evangelization in Africa and the Western world because the personal knowledge of the Lord Jesus is the solution to the decadence sweeping across many nations today.”
Ortom commended the Anglican Communion in Nigeria for its stand on gay marriage and reiterated that his administration would entrench core values that would enhance the socio-economic well-being of the people.
This is yet another example of people being riled up by a politician, misusing the Christian religion to persecute gays. The politician instills fear in the community. Suggesting that gays and lesbians are demons who hurt culture and wellbeing, helps the politician to advance his popularity. And of course the Church has its own motivation, with a needy congregation inspired to participate.
This type of rhetoric, which perpetuates myth and lies about LGBTI people, by a public official, serves to exacerbate the ongoing persecution of Nigeria's LGBTI community. A warning of this nature will cause a spike in discrimination, harassment and likely arrests, making the already difficult closeted life for gay Nigerians,in the region, even more stressful and dangerous.