Prominent Nigerian pastor T.B. Joshua’s church channel has reportedly been deactivated by YouTube. This came after UK-based organisation OpenDemocracy sent complaints to YouTube two weeks ago.
Joshua’s Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) YouTube channel allegedly housed several gay conversation videos, one of which showed the pastor violently slapping a gay member as a form of exorcism to drive out “unclean spirits”.
Lydia Namubiru, OpenDemocracy’s Africa Editor, said that Joshua had slapped a woman sixteen times in one video which garnered over 1.5 million views. In another video, a gay member was forced to cut off his dreadlocks to cure him of his attraction to men. Joshua, who does not consider the disturbing events harmful or hurtful, has instead asked his congregants to pray for YouTube to reopen his church’s account. According to IOL, the pastor appealed to YouTube saying that he is against all forms of hate speech however he did not comment or apologise for his violent actions.
Homosexuality is illegal in Nigeria, and members of the LGBTQIA community live in constant fear of being incarcerated for up to 14 years. In October last year, a Nigerian judge finally released 47 men who were facing charges of homosexuality in a controversial case that lasted two years.
Joshua has a huge following across Africa, especially in Nigeria and South Africa. Furthermore, his church enjoys prime-time slots on some of the country’s biggest television stations. His actions further exacerbate the persecution of African LGBTQIA population, currently the most vulnerable in Africa. Homophobia is admittedly a continental scourge that has seen many gay individuals killed in homophobic acts — even in South Africa where homosexuality is decriminalised.
According to CNN, YouTube has indefinitely terminated the channel. The YouTube channel belonging to The Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) had more than two million subscribers and over 600 million views.