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Religion: Changing Attitude

in NIGERIA, 08/08/2006

First Anniversary of Changing Attitude Nigeria (CAN)

Changing Attitude Nigeria is proud to celebrate the first anniversary of our founding. CAN started in the diocese of the Niger Delta, Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion on the 1st of August 2005 with 35 members.

In the first year, we have many achievements to be proud of, including our impact on the life of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, which had previously denied that lesbian and gay people are members of the church. The Church was so disturbed by our visible presence that it attempted to discredit the organisation, at the same time falsely claiming to be open to gays.

After several meetings in Port-Harcourt the members decided to give CAN a formal national structure and asked the founder and leader, Sir Davis Mac-Iyalla to relocate to Abuja where the headquarters of the Church of Nigeria are situated.

It was not difficult for Davis Mac-Iyalla to start a new group in Abuja as he already had gay and lesbians friends who are members of the church in Abuja.

News about the group began to spread among the LGBT members in the church and soon Davis Mac-Iyalla was contacted by church members from Lagos, who wanted to start a group there.

As the groups continued to grow in number Davis was always on the road visiting the newly-formed groups and teaching them about the aims and ideals of CAN.

Davis was always prepared to chat in groups with the leaders where they exchanged ideas and developed a vision for the group. It was at one of these meetings that it was agreed the group should host a General Meeting to bring members from all the dioceses in Nigeria together in Abuja. This idea was agreed by every leader but there was one major problem - money. But we trust our God to provide so we continued actively to plan the general meeting and told CA England, who agreed to provide some assistance.

Davis Mac-Iyalla, Director of CAN, said: “We hosted the first General Meeting on the 25-27 November 2005 in Mocca Club Hall, Arts Council, Abuja. The meeting was the first of its kind in the history of Nigeria and over 1000 LGBT Anglicans turned up from the various dioceses in Nigeria."

“The meeting was reported in the Nigerian Sun newspaper, the Vanguard and the New York Times. The success of the general meeting gave birth to new diocesan groups in Calabar, Jos and Benin. We are currently seeing the possibility of forming another group in the diocese of Warri."

“The success of the groups and how they were spreading fast across the various diocese in the Church of Nigeria offended Archbishop Peter Akinola and some of his homophobic bishops so much that on the 28 December 2005 without proper consultation with the standing committee of the national church or with the priests in the church of Nigeria, Canon Tunde Popoola issued a press release and disclaimer in an attempt to destroy my reputation. All the allegations were false and have been answered on the website of Changing Attitude England.
Canon Tunde has to this date failed to produce any proof in support of his allegations.”

ILGA:
Davis Mac-Iyalla was invited to attend the World Conference of the International Gay and Lesbian Association in Geneva in March 2006, where he delivered two papers, one as part of the world faith day and the second as part of the Africa forum.


Episcopal Church:
We want to thank the Episcopal Church for electing a Katherine Jefferts-Schori as their next Presiding Bishop. Not only will she become the first woman to join the Primates‘ meeting but she is someone we know has the qualities of a good leader who believes in the full inclusion of LGBT people as members of the Church of Christ. We pray that God will give the Episcopal Church the courage to endure in this period of difficulty caused by opponents of their integrity like Archbishop Peter Akinola and his aasociates.

Church of England:
We have also followed with great interest the meeting of the General Synod of the mother church in England and were very happy about the decision to begin the process which will eventually allow women to be ordained as bishops.

Archbishop of Canterbury:
We have read all the publications of the Archbishop of Canterbury about the future of the Anglican communion and are saddened that his words are often mostly misinterpreted. We see the fear of the conservatives who are worried about losing the debate. They seem to be people who are seriously afraid and are using their criticisms of the Archbishop to draw sympathy.

CAN and the anonymous Nigerian bishops and priests who support us secretly are very confident in saying that the Archbishop will have more bishops who want to remain under his leadership if Archbishop Peter Akinola and his friends decide to walk their separate way.

Lambeth 2008:
CAN is assuring the worldwide Anglican communion that the supplementary Lambeth conference which is Akinola is planning will not get further than mare say as if it did hold it will give the world clear figure of how few Akinola and his supporters are in the communion.

The bill to ban same sex marriage introduced by President Obasanjo:
Since the President of Nigeria introduced this deadly bill to make LGBT people outcasts from Nigeria, CAN and our international supporters have been using all constitutional means to fight against the bill.

Obstacles:
CAN regrets to say that finance as been one of the major obstacles we have been facing since we started. We are now seeking funds to host our leadership meeting and the next general meeting which is coming up in November. We hope our friends and supporters will assist us financially.

We are sadden by the refusal of visas to the director of CAN by the UK and US embassies, preventing him from travelling to attained important meetings where he will speak about our situation and the hostility we are facing in the Nigerian church. We hope there will be changes in the future.

Appreciations:
CAN is grateful to Changing Attitude England who from the very begin have been assisting us financially and morally.

We are also grateful to the WISH Group in Belgium and Gay Liberation Network in Chicago, USA who have been supporting us greatly and even working on plans to seek funding for us.

Thanks to ILGA for their invitation and sponsorship to the world conference in Geneva and for recognizing and working closely with us.


For further information please contact :
Davis Mac-Iyalla, Director of Changing Attitude Nigeria
email: davis@nigeria.changingattitude.org
+234 80 25866133
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