Gay Marriage: Nigerian Lawyers React, Clerics Kick
Reactions have continued to trail the recent judgment by the US Supreme Court, which provides same-sex couples the constitutional right to marry, thereby handing a historic triumph to the American gay rights movement.
The court ruled 5-4 that the Constitution’s guarantees of due process and equal protection under the law mean that states cannot ban same-sex marriages.
Though the historic ruling, which was the culmination of decades of litigation and activism, triggered jubilations and tearful hugs from same-sex couples in the United States, it has continued to receive condemnation from Nigerian clerics, as well as senior lawyers.
Speaking separately to The Guardian on the incident, the Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, His Grace, Most Rev. (Dr.) Alfred Adewale Martins, the Executive Secretary/CEO Muslim Ummah of Southwest Nigeria (MUSWEN), the umbrella body for all Muslim organisations and institutions in the Southwest, Professor Dawud O. S. Noibi, the General Secretary of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Dr. Musa Asake, and Primate of the African Church/President, Christian Council of Nigeria, His Grace, Most Revd. Emmanuel Josiah Udofia, condemned the ruling, describing it as an unfortunate situation.
“I think it’s a very unfortunate one because in many ways, it is trying to upturn the definition of marriage that both nature and Scripture have given to us since the beginning of time.
It is a natural disposition for people that are going into marriage; it is always a man and a woman. So, this attempt to redefine marriage is a breach of natural law and the laws of God that we have in the Scriptures,” Bishop Martins said.
The Archbishop, who berated the US Supreme Court for giving a ruling that is capable of damaging family values said, “it is very unfortunate that the Supreme Court has given that kind of judgment and that means you begin to denigrate on marriage and its values.
On the long run, it will have an effect on the society as a whole,” he said. In his reaction, Professor Dawud Noibi said, “we human beings are not in control of deciding if people of same sex should be married; our creator who made us two different sexes is wiser than we are.
The very first man Adam had a mate, who was a woman and God said that he did that because he wanted human beings to increase in number so that most of them will inhabit the earth for the purpose of fulfilling God’s own purpose.
It is said that people of the same sex who are married cannot produce children and if the people of the world obey this policy decision, the consequences is that our species are going to be beyond our imagination,” he said. The General Secretary of CAN, Dr. Musa Asake, in his reaction, said the original creation by God was man and a woman and not man and man or woman and woman.
“Since they have done that, it is very unfortunate because it is against God’s order of creation which is a man and a woman. God had the right to have created a man and a man but instead it was a man and a woman; anything against that is not right.”
While urging families to keep to their moral standards, Asake said, “nobody should go towards that direction and families should protect their children from getting them into this law decision. Every family should keep to their own laws of marriage.
Our politicians should be careful where there are taken us to; families should stand up and protect their own.” Condemning the ruling, the Primate of the African Church, His Grace, Most Rev. Emmanuel Udofia, said, “what the US has done is in violation from the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Human beings were created in the image of God. God created man and saw that it was not good for him to be alone, so, He made a woman for him; He did not make a man. God did not make a woman for a woman, so, for any government to legalise a system whereby a man marries a man, is total deviation from the word of God.”
Giving legal interpretation to the judgment, Awa Kalu (SAN) noted that, though the decision may be morally right in the United States of America, it is against the African culture and tradition. “As a Nigerian and an African, I do not believe in man to man or woman to woman. I believe in the original purpose of creation, which is a man to woman.
I do not know the grounds upon which the American Supreme Court based its decision, but on morality grounds, I do not support the decision. I know that ordinarily, domestic law in our country has forbid man to man; it’s criminal in our country. So whether man to man is an ideology that a future generation would succumb to, I do not know.
But as the law is now, it won’t be a decision of the Supreme Court; it would be something the legislature will look at.” For Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), every country has its own culture. “There’s American culture and I think for Americans, it is alright.
That’s their culture because they believe its part of their human rights. I think it has to differ from culture to culture; the Nigerian culture is the very opposite.
For instance, if the Supreme Court were to decide that in this country, of course, I would oppose it vigorously.
But since American Supreme Court decides that, I think we should be tolerant enough to accept what other people’s culture entails,” he said. As for the United States mounting pressure for other nations to adopt that, “it would be totally unacceptable; it would amount to imposition.
Their lifestyle and culture is something that is totally contrary from ours. Such would be oppressive and it would be resisted,” he insisted.
Another senior legal practitioners Sebastine Hon (SAN) said the ruling is against the constitution of the United States. “That decision is wrong in my own humble opinion.
The American constitution does not even guarantee the right of man marrying a man or women marrying women. By no stretch of imagination should that decision be justified.
The supreme court of the USA supposed to be the moral compass of the USA and conscience of the nation. All the reasons advanced for justifying gay marriages are highly immoral, sinful and unjustifiable in a democratic society.”
On the grounds that gay partners can adopt children and therefore live a normal family life, Hon said, “that argument is flawed for two reasons.
One, it doesn’t take into account the right of the child being adopted. If such child were to be an adult, he would have formed his opinion as to whether he would like to live with such family.
The rights of the child are being infringed upon just because of some callous adults that come into an unholy union.” Secondly, “the power to procreate which comes from God has been truncated. If those gay partners were not procreated through the normal way, they wouldn’t be human beings today.
So, why would they now after enjoying procreation designed by God stamp logic on its head and say that since they are adults, they can force everybody to agree that it is normal for them to come together even if they are not going to procreate? So, constitutionally, naturally, legally, spiritually and even culturally, that decision will never be upheld as having been sound with due respect with the judges of the Supreme Court of the USA,” he said.