Nigerian YouTuber Victor Emmanuel who runs the YouTube channel ‘For Fags Sake!‘ has declared an indefinite hunger strike at the National Assembly until the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill (SSMPA) is repealed.
Posting a video on his Twitter page, Emmanuel said he would not leave until his body either gives up or until the law is repealed.
The SSMPA bill, which was signed into law by Nigeria’s former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan on January 7, 2014 as a way of appealing to voters ahead of the elections, carries a maximum of 14 years in prison for offenders. Since the bill was passed into law, the police have cracked down on parties and used the law as a tool to oppress citizens. The law imposes a 10-year prison sentence on anyone who “registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organization” or “supports” the activities of such organisations.
Emmanuel first tweeted: “I am going to start asking the government of Nigeria to repeal the same-sex marriage prohibition act (SSMPA) — a law that criminalizes the lives and existence of LGBTQ+ Nigerian citizens. ”
He compared the punishment meted out for being gay to the same punish meted out to rapists.
“Every other day, Nigerians, armed with state-facilitated homophobia, go out of their way to harm, harass, and assault LGBT well-meaning citizens of this country,” he said.
Emmanuel’s choice of venue was influenced by the fact that the SSMPA bill went through the National Assembly before it was signed into law.
“I am not asking anyone to join me physically in protest, but if you’re queer, an ally, or just a human being who isn’t wicked enough to actually think we deserve 14 years imprisonment for just existing, then I ask you to join me on this journey and send this message to the government: Repeal the SSMPA,” he said.
According to the Human Rights Watch, “the SSMPA contravenes basic tenets of the Nigerian Constitution, including respect for dignity and prohibition of torture”.
“It also goes against several regional and international human rights treaties which Nigeria has ratified, including the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Charter), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” it said.
At the time of reporting Emmanuel was neither picking calls by friends, nor responding to messages.
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