The Archbishop of Canterbury is “appeasing homophobia,” according to a gay rights group.

Outrage condemned Dr Rowan William’s silence over a ministers support of anti gay laws in Nigeria which make gay unions illegal and ban gay organisations.

Dr Williams refused to comment on Reverend Peter Akinola’s support for the law, he told a delegation at the World Council of Churches, “There is a difference between what might be said theologically about patterns of behaviour and what is said about human and civil rights.

He called it a “real challenge to give effect to the listening process in situations where gay people are actively persecuted.

“The question is whether their churches can find ways of acting on that recognition on the wrongness of persecution,” he said.

Petrer Tatchell, leader of Outrage, said: “We are stunned by the failure of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, to condemn Archbishop Akinola’s support for Nigeria’s

savage new anti-gay legislation.

“Dr Williams would not appease a racist or an anti-Semite cleric. Why is he appeasing a boastful homophobe like Archbishop Akinola?

“With the blessing of the Nigerian Anglican Church and its leader, Archbishop Peter Akinola, the government of Nigeria has tabled in parliament one of the world’s most comprehensive and repressive anti-gay laws.

“The new legislation will strip lesbian and gay Nigerians of their already limited civil rights and outlaw almost every expression, affirmation and celebration of homosexuality, including same-sex marriage and blessing ceremonies.

“It will also prohibit gay organisations, gay churches, gay safer sex education, the advocacy of

gay human rights, and sympathetic advice and welfare support for lesbians and gay men.

“The Archbishop of Canterbury is silent about this major threat to the human rights of gay members of his Anglican Communion in Nigeria. The new law will criminalise gay Christian gatherings, blessings and celebrations. It is a direct attack on both the Christian and gay

communities of Nigeria.

Mr Tatchell praised the Bishop of Washington, Reverend John Chane for speaking out against the law, “We salute Bishop Chane’s defence of lesbian and gay human rights. Unlike the Archbishop of Canterbury, he is a true Good Samaritan to the suffering gays and lesbians of Nigeria.

“Bishop Chane’s support for the human rights of gay Nigerians accords with a gospel of love and compassion, while Archbishop Akinola’s homophobia embodies hatred and ignorance.

“Under attack by both Church and State, we fear for the safety of our gay brothers and sisters in Nigeria.

“Akinola’s harsh, merciless Christian fundamentalism poses a grave danger to the spiritual and physical welfare of gay Christians and non-Christians in Nigeria.”