Members of the LGBTQ community in Ghana are currently living in fear for their lives after a series of unfortunate events. Ghana like most West African countries, has legislation(s) that criminalizes same-sex relationships and acts. Although situations, where such legal action is taken, are rarely reported and hasn’t occurred in years, it isn’t uncommon to hear about cases of discrimination and violence against LGBTQ Ghanaians.
Besides government laws, the LGBTQ community in Ghana have often had to deal with issues of public morality. That is, they have had religious institutions and organizations, established to preserve family values, condemn their existence. These institutions often go as far as making demands from the government. In the past, they asked and ensured that LGBTQ conferences ceased to be held in the country.
Barely three weeks after its opening, the LGBTQ community centre in Ghana has had to close down. This was the outcome of a nationwide display of violent homophobia.
The community centre was opened by Ghana’s foremost LGBTQ rights organization, LGBT+ Rights Ghana. The organization itself was founded by Alex Donkor. When opened, the purpose of the centre was for providing LGBTQ Ghanaians with healthcare, therapy, training and other forms of support.
How did this happen?
To mark its opening, a fundraising event was organized by the community centre on the 31st of January, 2021. This fundraiser was attended by the Danish Ambassador and the Australian High Commissioner.
Unfortunately, the attendance of these diplomats sparked debate about the international sponsorship of the LGBTQ community. This led to the centre receiving threats from different angles. The entire situation escalated when religious institutions entered the conversation.
Two Saturdays ago, most, if not all, of the newspapers in Ghana carried headlines quoting several religious leaders. These leaders, both Christian and Muslim, had held a conference to discuss the existence of the community centre. Their verdict was a demand to close down the centre. Amongst the things they said was that the government should not give in to international pressure by passing same-sex acts into legislation.
What happened after?
It was as though validation had been given to homophobic Ghanaians. Death threats were sent to Alex Donkor and other staff members. They have all gone into hiding. People who attended the fundraiser have not been spared. This is exemplified by the demand for the arrest of a popular musician who was at the event.
Of course, the community itself is not exempt from the tirade of violence. A group of people, who regard themselves as an anti-LGBTQ advocacy organization have gathered together. They distributed memorandums online, which clearly state their intention to kill LGBTQ Ghanians in a nationwide witch-hunt.
Where’s the Government in All This?
The Ghanaian government is considering legislation that will place a ban on LGBTQ advocacy in the country. This is an outright denial of the basic human rights of LGBTQ Ghanaians. Many rights have been violated but this has the power to take away their major resource: their voice.
How did word get out?
LGBT+ Rights Ghana took to their official Twitter account to let everyone know what had happened to the centre and its staff. Also, seeing as there’s nowhere to run to and no one to call on in their country, several LGBTQ Ghanaians took to their individual online platforms to solicit help from other LGBTQ communities and human rights organizations like the United Nations(UN).