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LGBT+ people in Ghana are ‘refusing to be silenced’ after catalogue of horrific injustices and violent attacks

Josh Milton April 3, 2021
Ghana: Man violently beaten by vigilante group on suspicion of being gay beheading

LGBT+ rights are heavily suppressed in Ghana. (Creative Commons)

A powerful Twitter thread by a Ghanaian LGBT+ rights groups has captured just some of the injustices the country’s queer community has suffered in the last three months.

From police raids to lawmakers hoping to further criminalise being LGBT+, the thread highlighted how Ghana’s LGBT+ community has, with increased intensity, endured hostility this year.

The thread was part of an online campaign called #GhanaGetsBetter to raise awareness of what is happening to LGBT+ people in Ghana. Supporters are encouraged to change their social media profile pictures to the colour red in solidarity.

LGBT+ Rights Ghana knows this hostility all too well. Its opening of a brick-and-mortar office in February made international headlines, with so-called “family rights” activists, faith leaders and lawmakers calling for its downfall.

An unlawful police raid – supported by the building’s landlord as well as national security agents – forced the group to flee “and go into hiding for their safety“.

Throughout February, government officials “denied the humanity of LGBTQIA Ghanaians and declared our existence as criminal,” LGBT+ Rights Ghana continued.

It pointed to then-nominee for minister of gender, children and social protection, Adwoa Safo, who was asked by an MP whether queer folk are “human” as part of the vetting process. Safo said that “the issue of its criminality is non-negotiable” and was later approved for the ministerial role.

Later that same month, president Nana Akufo-Addo dashed any hopes that the country would budge even an inch forward on equality. “It will not be under the presidency of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo that same-sex marriage will be legal,” he said.

Continuing its thread, LGBT+ Rights Ghana brought the violence such comments from politicians can provoke into sharp focus.

It spotlighted a queer person “assaulted by a soldier simply because he couldn’t tell whether I’m a boy or a girl” in Teshie, a southeastern coastal town, on 1 March.

“He hit me with a stick three times,” the victim wrote, “and asked me to go back home ‘cos he wouldn’t allow me go to wherever it is I’m going to.”

In the next chapter of violence documented by the group, a gaggle of lawmakers bolstered by top faith groups with a simple aim: Further criminalising being LGBT+.

Across March, MPs outlined their intentions to push a new bill to ban any kind of LGBT+ “advocacy”.

The 30 MPs, forming the group “Believers Against LGBTI+“, are now leading “the charge against criminalizing LGBT+ activities in Ghana.”

It came after “major Christian leaders, with the backing of Ghanaian media houses, organized a one-day prayer rally against LGBT+ people,” the thread added.

“These leaders encouraged their millions of followers to pray for the destruction of LGBT+ people. ”

The most recent incident this month saw 22 people arrested as police flooded a home in Obomeng, Kwahu South – all because authorities suspected a “lesbian wedding” was taking place there.

Chilling footage showed the group pushed by police officers as one local chanted: “We will burn them, we will burn all of them.”

The raid was orchestrated by a senior police official who went onto say that he believes being queer is a “taboo“.

Capping off the chilling list of anti-LGBT+ atrocities taking place in the country, LGBT+ Rights Ghana wrote: “Far and wide across the country, LGBT+ people are being outed, lynched, dehumanised and harassed.

“We refuse to keep silent! There is no freedom until we are all equal!”

 

More: Ghana

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