TWO reports this week indicate that Christians and Muslims are increasingly aligning themselves over the issue of same-sex unions.
In Nigeria, Senate President David Mark told the Catholic faithful and guests at a recent civic reception in honour of Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan in Abuja that a bill prohibiting same-sex marriage would definitely be passed.
And in France Muslims have begun joining a mostly Catholic-led movement against same-sex marriage, widening opposition to the reform that the Socialist-led government is set to write into the law by June.
Fifty Muslim activists issued an open letter on Monday urging fellow Muslims to join a major Paris protest against the law this Sunday. That followed a similar appeal last Saturday by the influential Union of French Islamic Organisations (UOIF).
The Muslim activists' letter said:
We will protest on January 13 by joining a pluralist campaign to preserve the traditional framework of marriage. We invite all French Muslims to turn out in large numbers.
In a press release issued yesterday, the UK gay charity, the Pink Triangle Trust said that the international community and human rights activists are calling for Nigeria to reconsider the bill prohibiting same-sex marriage.
Mark was quoted as having said:
We will not compromise on this. I want to invite you all to join the crusade of decency in our society. There are many good values we can copy from other societies but certainly not this one [same-sex marriage].
We have to prove to the rest of the world, who are advocates of this unnatural way, that we Nigerians promote and respect sanity, morality and humanity. Every individual is a product of the union of a man and woman.
An overwhelming number of religious and socio-cultural groups across Nigeria has been unequivocal in their opposition to same-sex marriage which some foreign countries are openly urging Nigeria to accept.
Such opponents include Christian denominations as well as Muslim groups all of which have voiced their rejection of the pressure from some sections of the international community for Nigeria to change its stance.
Among them is the Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) the Most Rev Nicholas Okoh who has repeatedly opposed the move, saying same-sex marriage is not biblical and therefore unacceptable.
However, Nigerian human rights activist Leo Igwe, who is a supporter of the Pink Triangle Trust, said:
The statements made by David Mark that the ban on same sex marriage was irrevocable are reprehensible. They are a clear demonstration of homophobia and show a lack of appreciation of the humane moral values of the contemporary world. He has used the civic reception of John Cardinal Olorunfemi Onaiyekan to fan the flames of hatred and persecution of a sexual minority and to promote his skewed sense of decency. They are inconsistent with the constitutional role of a Senate President. They are also another clear indication of how the Senate and the church in Nigeria are working together in prosecuting a crusade against gay people.
Instead of supporting the ban on same sex marriage, the Senate and the Government of Nigeria as a whole should make a commitment to promoting and protecting the universal human rights of everyone, whatever their race, ethnic origin, sex, sexual orientation, religion or belief, even when such commitment conflicts with the teachings of religion.
Meanwhile, in France, leaders of almost all main faiths in France have spoken out against the law, but not called on their followers to march in Sunday's demonstration to avoid giving the opposition campaign an overly religious tone.
President Francois Hollande and his government clashed with the Catholic Church last weekend, telling Catholic schools not to discuss the law with their pupils and urging state education officials to report anti-gay discussions at Catholic schools.
The Muslim activist letter was signed by intellectuals, business leaders and leaders of several grassroots Muslim groups. It accused the government of using the marriage issue:
To mask its ineffectiveness in the fight against unemployment.
France's 5-million-strong Muslim minority is Europe's biggest and Islam is the second largest faith after Catholicism.