Democratic Virginia Rep. Gerry Connolly opposed a bill on Tuesday condemning the persecution of Christians in Nigeria because it failed to also include the LGBTQ population.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday performed markups on a bill condemning violations of religious freedoms in Nigeria, including the ongoing persecution and murder of Christians. Connolly, a member of the committee, said he didn’t favor the bill in its current form because it failed to encompass a broader condemnation of all persecution in Nigeria, including against “the gay and lesbian community.”
“Congress can’t simply say, ‘We’re only concerned about Christian persecution.’ We’re concerned about anyone’s human rights being violated,” Connolly said during the committee markup session on Tuesday. “And by the way, that includes the gay and lesbian community, which has suffered in Nigeria, among other African countries, [and] even at the hands of religious leaders, who have called for the death penalty because of somebody’s sexual orientation.”
“If we’re going to express ourselves with respect – as we should – it ought to be a comprehensive statement, not a particular group we single out, and basically say ‘That’s the one we’re concerned about,” Connolly said.
Republican Pennsylvania Rep. Scott Perry later said the bill aims to distinctly condemn the violation of religious freedoms in Nigeria and accused unspecified colleagues of trying to “muddy the water” with irrelevant points. Connolly responded that he considered that a “smear” and explained his personal history with Catholicism.
Islamic militants and vandals terrorize and persecute Christians in Nigeria, and more “believers are killed for their faith” in the country every year than anywhere else in the world, according to Open Doors International.
The Biden administration canceled a grant providing aid to persecuted Christians in Nigeria in 2021, according to the Heritage Foundation. House Resolution 82, the bill being marked- up by the committee on Tuesday, would order the Biden administration to address Nigeria as a “particular country of concern” for violating religious freedoms.
Same-sex activity has been criminalized in Nigeria since 2023 and is considered a jailable and punishable offense, according to Human Dignity Trust. There have been several reports of violence and harassment against LBGTQ-identifying people in Nigeria, and other reports indicate that some have been murdered.