Nigerian YouTuber, Victor Emmanuel, popularly known as VicWonder has gone on indefinite hunger strike in a protest calling for the repeal of the infamous Same-Sex Prohibition Act, 2013 (SSMPA) that criminalizes gay marriage in addition to curtailing the rights of the LGTB+ to free association.
Victor, who runs the YouTube channel ‘For Fags Sake!’ revealed in a video he posted to his Twitter page that he will be at the National Assembly building and on hunger strike until the law which has emboldened state and non-state actors to amp up attack on the LGBT+ is repealed.
The law prescribes 14 years imprisonment for anyone enters into a marriage contract or civil union with another person of the same sex. 10 years imprisonment for anyone who registers, operates, or participates in gay clubs, societies and organizations, or directly or indirectly displays affection in public for the same sex. 10 years imprisonment for anyone who witnesses, administers, aids or abets the solemnization of same sex marriage or supports gay clubs or organizations.
Civil unions are defined in the Act to include; adult independent partnerships, caring partnerships, civil partnerships, civil solidarity pacts, domestic partnerships, reciprocal beneficiary relationships, registered partnerships, significant relationships and stable unions.
The reaction to this overbold move by Victor has been mixed. Rightly so.
Just last month, Ghana was embroiled in a storm of homophobia led by the Catholic Church and a media that seemed out of its depth, if we are being generous. Part of the reason for that, as many seasoned LGBT+ rights activist noted was because the leadership of Human Rights Ghana went for a bold move rather than a strategic one.
For the many young and understandably frustrated LGBT+ Nigerians, the call for strategy from seasoned activists is infuriating at worse and stressful at best. Twitter user @theycallmeprada captured this frustration precisely when they asked, “We cannot keep surviving. When do we live?”
The fear of a crackdown is valid because it is rooted in the intimate understanding of the modus operandi of the Nigerian Government – cruelty with a dash of wickedness. The #EndSARS protests and the resultant crackdown on it that led to the death and injury of dozens of young Nigerians is still fresh in our collective memory.
What is also fresh from those protests was the exclusion of the LGBT+ at the peak of the protests because many young Nigerians understand the cost of police violence only where it affects them, and the plight of the LGBT+ is not one.
The frustration from LGBT+ Nigerians who desire change at the very least in the laws that make the victimization of the LGBT+ legal is also understandable.
Whatever happens in the long run, Victor has spun the wheel and the best everyone can do is to closely watch this play out. Attaining desired change is not an exercise in convenience and even seasoned activists know this.