(This post previously appeared at The Bilerico Project)
Recently, leaders of Commonwealth nations met to discuss pressing international issues, and leaders from the U.K., Canada and others pressed for human rights reforms for LGBT people. British Prime Minister David Cameron went so far as to threaten to cut off aid to member nations that still criminalize homosexuality — something that was met with accusations of “bullying.” Nigeria responded by redoubling efforts to symbolically pass a bill to ban same-sex marriage (even though homosexuality is already illegal there), including witnessing, participating in and “abetting” a same-sex marriage (it’s unclear from the text of this bill if this is limited to marriages performed in Nigeria) which had been simmering for a few months.
Anti-abortion “news” websites Human Life International (HLI) World Watch and Canada’s LifeSiteNews (LSN) have taken encouragement from this, and co-published an article cheering Nigeria on, calling the bill something that “pro-life and pro-family supporters” should rally behind. The two often partner, and at least one of the organizations is engaged in ongoing work against LGBT people in Nigeria:
“Human Life International Nigeria is joining forces with other pro-life organizations and well-meaning Nigerians in mobilizing support for the defense of this bill,” said Chizoba Nnagboh, Human Life International (HLI) country director in Nigeria.
… Last week, HLI Nigeria sent a letter in support of the bill to outlaw same-sex “marriage” to the Nigerian Senate ahead of a public hearing on the bill on October 31, 2011.
Did I happen to mention that in Nigeria, homosexuality is already punishable by death in 12 states and up to 14 years imprisonment everywhere else?
Neither do Human Life International or LifeSiteNews.
Given that both websites claim to be reputable news organizations — and that real journalists investigating potential changes to laws affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people in Nigeria would typically make a point of knowing what the existing laws are — this can only be seen as either a serious journalistic failure, or else a deliberate obfuscation of the facts to encourage anti-abortion donors to keep giving, without realizing what it is that they’re supporting.
The latter is more likely in the case of HLI, which has admitted to being directly involved in Nigerian politics. LifeSiteNews, which didn’t author the article, has nevertheless had their own writers do this before. LSN attacked a recent U.N. resolution about human rights for including LGBT people — initially not mentioning that the statement was a condemnation of execution and genocide (the LSN article now appears to have a faint mention, added since they’d been called on it). LSN has also previously cheered on the nation of Uganda for not bowing to international pressure, while omitting that said pressure was to drop its Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which included severe punitive sentences or death for LGBT people — although after the bill had gained international notoriety, LSN backtracked slightly and publicized calls for lighter sentences (the criminalization itself is still largely not in question). I’ve also previously written about other far-right groups and Canadian tabloid media using deliberate omission to further a perspective, so it’s not like doing so is anything new.
Human Life International has had a colourful history, after founder Paul Marx made several remarks that were characterized as anti-Semitic. Successor Thomas Euteneuer then led the organization for ten years, only to step down after sexual improprieties with a woman he met through a ministry in which he performed exorcisms.
LifeSiteNews is a media project of Campaign Life Coalition (CLC), led by Jim Hughes, who is also the Vice President of the International Right to Life Federation. LSN recently faced a lawsuit from Catholic priest and former Member of Parliament Raymond Gravel after articles on LSN caused him to lose is position as a cathechist. They were also banned from the bishops’ annual plenary assembly because of relentlessly dogged campaigns against Development and Peace, the Catholic Church’s official international development arm in Canada — causing some to speculate that either Hughes is trying to assert authority over D&P or that CLC is making a play for control of the amply-funded organization.
Africa is significant to international aid organizations because of the amount of cash being allocated toward financial assistance, combating the spread of HIV and other relief efforts. George W. Bush reduced or eliminated the barriers between foreign assistance and proselytization, making this a boon to faith groups, something that Canada’s Prime Minister is poised to follow with his Orwellian-sounding proposed Office of Religious Freedom. Meanwhile, targeting LGBT people has provided a convenient scapegoat and distraction from the failures of some of these governments, as well as making it possible to disqualify some of the neediest or highest risk groups from competing for this financial assistance.
Together, HLI, CLC et al form a significant portion of the anti-abortion industrial complex — which does not yet have a comparatively high stake in Africa, but has influence that is evidently growing. Both groups support radical personhood legislation, making their indifference toward executions in Nigeria all the more stunning.
But if they’re willing to tacitly condone genocide and excessive punishment by looking the other way — and erasing the true horrors of those nations’ policies while trumpeting the nations that practice them — the conclusion one inevitably comes to is that even if Human Life International, Campaign Life Coalition and LifeSiteNews seek life for fertilized eggs, the lives of LGBT people must not have nearly as much value to them.
(previously posted at The Bilerico Project)