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Feminist Coalition deletes LGBTQ+ tweet, emphasises focus on #EndSARS

“We ask that we all remain focused on our SINGLE goal at this time, which is to #endSARS and #endpolicebrutality,” the gender activists said.

• October 18, 2020
#EndSARs Protesters
#EndSARs Protesters (Photo Credit: PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

Feminist Coalition has walked back its declaration that the ongoing #EndSARS campaign is also a platform that seeks to enforce the rights of LGBTQ+ community and other gender non-variant groups outlawed in Nigeria.

“We are committed to the elimination of violence against all Nigerians, and our demand for accountability from the government is simple: that all Nigerians across this nation live and thrive,” the group said in an updated statement Sunday night. “Every Nigerian has the right to protest freely against police brutality.” 

The fresh statement came hours after the gender rights group, which has become the major driver of ongoing march against police brutality, sent out a message declaring absolute support for LGBTQ+ community and others whose rights have been taken away since 2014 when President Goodluck Jonathan signed a controversial law.

The group deleted the tweet after Peoples Gazette ran a story on it, eliciting criticism that the activists risked derailing their #EndSARS message by injecting LGBTQ+ community rhetoric into the broad-based campaign around which the highly religious and conservative Nigeria has rallied for two weeks. 

It came hours after Segun Awosanya, a rights activist who has led the campaign against police brutality and credited with popularising #EndSARS in 2017, said he would be pulling out of the ongoing movement because of its fluid organisation and changing demands.

Mr. Awosanya was amongst the top critics to jump on the Feminist Coalition blunder Sunday evening, saying it reinforces his message that the protests were no longer about police brutality but insurrection

He did not immediately provide additional evidence to substantiate his message beyond what the feminist groups and other key actors have posted on social media. 

Other social media commentators said the LGBTQ+ community dimension introduced by Feminist Coalition could potentially bolster government’s argument for a forceful dispersal of protesters, who are already bracing for another week of nationwide marches.

Feminist Coalition subtly admitted its messaging error but said it would not be distracted from the message to end police brutality and facilitate justice for victims of police brutality.

“We ask that we all remain focused on our SINGLE goal at this time, which is to #endSARS and #endpolicebrutality,” the group said. “Thank you for your support.”

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