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New Yorkers Join Global Protests Against Nigerian, Ugandan Anti-Gay Laws

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NIne demonstrators were arrested outside
Nine demonstrators were arrested outside the Consulate General of Nigeria in Midtown on March 7. | GAY CITY NEWS

BY DUNCAN OSBORNE | Nine AIDS activists were arrested after they blockaded the entrance to the Consulate General of Nigeria while protesting that country’s recently enacted law with harsh criminal penalties for LGBT people and for advocacy of LGBT causes.

“We have gathered today to demonstrate our solidarity with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community of Nigeria and with their families and friends,” said Charles King, the president of Housing Works, an AIDS group, at a March 7 rally. “We stand today not only in solidarity with this community, but also with the same communities in Uganda, in Cameroon, in Jamaica, with the young black gay man in East New York, with the young transgender Latina woman in the South Bronx, indeed, with all those around the globe, wherever they may dwell, who live in fear, who are forced from their homes, who suffer violence and indignities upon their person because of who they are or whom they love.”

Housing Works' executive director Charles King addresses the demonstrators. |GAY CITY NEWS
Housing Works' executive director Charles King addresses the demonstrators. | GAY CITY NEWS

King spoke to the roughly 400 people who joined the rally that was held in Midtown Manhattan on Second Avenue across from the consulate. Moments after King’s speech, the nine activists blocked the entrance to the building. They were first addressed by a senior consulate staffer using a police megaphone, though he could not be heard over the activists’ chanting, then police warned them to disperse. Similar protests were held in seven other cities around the globe on March 7.

The rally was produced by the Nigerian Solidarity Alliance, with Michael Ighodaro, a Housing Works staffer, being the primary organizer. Ighodaro is a gay Nigerian who won asylum here in the US. The rally was endorsed by a dozen gay and AIDS groups.

Nigeria is the latest nation to enact harsh criminal penalties for homosexuality in a trend that stands in contrast to gains made by the LGBT community on marriage in North America and some European countries.

Gay City News columnist Kelly Cogswell and filmmaker Harriet Hirshorn provide a video report.

Jessica Stern, executive director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, speaks outside the Consulate General of Nigeria on March 7. | GAY CITY NEWS
Jessica Stern, executive director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, speaks outside the Consulate General of Nigeria on March 7. | GAY CITY NEWS

On March 5, members of ACT UP, LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent, and Queer Nation gathered outside the Permanent Mission of Uganda to the UN to protest Uganda’s anti-homosexuality law, also recently put in place. That law applies harsh criminal penalties to LGBT Ugandans and even to those who fail to report knowledge of homosexual activity. Similar protests were held in roughly a half dozen cities on March 5.

Stacey Robinson, who convenes Maranatha, the LGBT ministry at New York City’s Riverside Church, told the crowd, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere... It does not matter if you are black, white, straight, gay, transgender, lesbian, whatever you are, you are entitled to your place on God’s green earth... What’s going on in Uganda, we’re not going to sit by and just let happen.”

Updated 5:17 pm, July 20, 2018
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Reader feedback

Jody May-Chang says:
The world is watching Uganda! Please help LGBT activists flee Uganda HERE: http://www.gofundme.com/Uganda-LGBT-Fund
March 8, 2014, 10:40 am
jamesnimmo says:
We gay people have been too acquiescent in our own supression for far too long in this century. There is nothing inherently bad abou our orientation. but look at the tactics and violence used against us by acknowledged leaders of both the USA, and countries around the world.. Homo-hatred is being used as a tactic to maintain power over other aspects of society besides the, what should be, private lives of gay citizens. Though I'm not advocating using violence such as directed at us our doormat days should be declared over and done with. Closeted gays need to stay our of our way.
March 8, 2014, 2:09 pm
William Stribling says:
Nicely put, James.
March 8, 2014, 5:40 pm
jamesnimmo says:
http://www.laprogressive.com/african-homophobia clip In expanding their African power in the Anglican Church, African bishops also work in tandem with their countries presidents and politicians, promoting a Christian nationalism. Presidents Museveni and Jonathan set the stage for other countries to follow suit. Denouncing homosexuality is one of the ways these African countries decry perceived neo-colonialism, Western imperialism and cultural annihilation. And it’s telling the West- U.S. and England, in particular- to mind their business.
March 8, 2014, 7:50 pm
John Knoebel says:
Really disappointed I didn't hear anything about this protest in advance. This issue really concerns me. I would have joined and brought activist friends. I thought I was well connected via emails and Facebooks posts from local organizations, but nothing reached me in advance. Is there a source I can connect to? A clearinghouse site for future actions? Help.
March 11, 2014, 5:38 pm

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