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An Ill Wind--LGBTQ+ Rights In Ghana

LGBTQ+ Rights in Ghana

Just as in the US, a wave of vitriol is being directed at LGBTQ+ persons in Ghana. The sources of the castigations are the National House of Chiefs (NHC), the National Chief Imam, the Christian Council, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, and various politicians. The NHC issued a statement that said in part, “...nowhere does the Ghanaian culture subscribe to LGBTQI which is a taboo, inhuman and alien to our society...” This claim is based on the false concept that homosexuality in Africa is strictly an import from the West. We know this isn’t true because of condemnatory writings of early Portuguese explorers who described a range of African sexual relations including homosexuality. Wide variations in sexual preference are seen all over the world. Africa is no exception. The Nzima of Ghana had a tradition of adult men marrying each other, usually with a difference of about ten years. Thousands of years ago, the San people of Zimbabwe depicted sex and amorous relationships between men.



Ancient painting of two San men kissing
Ancient painting from San people of Zimbabwe (Mehra, Bharat & Lemieux, Paul & Stophel, Keri. (2019).


The British colonizers codified homosexuality into law as “unnatural carnal knowledge,” a ridiculous phrase that remains on Ghana’s law books till this day. However, in 2021, a small group of ministers of parliament (MPs) in Ghana introduced a similarly ludicrously worded anti-LGBTQ bill called the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Family Values. This would introduce jail terms up to up to ten years for “promotion” of LGBTQ activities, five years for same-sex intercourse, and up to one year for a same-sex “public show of amorous relations,” whatever the that means.


One of the main proponents for the anti-gay bill is a fine specimen of humanity called Moses Foh-Amoaning, the executive secretary of the National Coalition of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Family Values. The irony is that Moses is among one of Ghana's most marginalized groups: albinos, who are the target of persecution and ritual killings at the hands of people who believe that body parts of an albino have magical powers.



Albino man speaking in front of a microphone
Albino Moses Foh-Amoaning (from publicagendagh.com)


So, rather than putting his energy into advocating for the stigmatized group to which he belongs, he spends time demonizing another stigmatized population. Go figure. He was sacked from the Association of African Albinos for his hate speech against gay people. At the behest of Moses, a bunch of hoodlums tore down two “Love, Tolerance, and Acceptance” Accra billboards sponsored by LGBT+ Rights, an organization founded by gay activist Alex Donkor.


Even though the bill hasn’t been signed into law, Ghana’s queer communities have been suffering increased attacks including gang rapes, forced evictions, and attempts at “conversion,” a long-debunked concept. Homophobic vigilantes use social media and sex sites to lure gay people into perilous circumstances. LGBTQ+ parties, meetings, and other get-togethers are sometimes raided either by the police or hostile gangs who, in addition to physically assaulting the gay attendees, rob them of items like phones and jewelry, and blackmailing them with the threat of photos of them stripped naked or in other compromising situations. Bizarrely, there have been occasions in which the police arrest the gay victims and let the attackers go.

The greatest irony is that while homosexuality in Ghana isn’t a western import, homophobia is. The American organization World Congress of Families (WCF) has been instrumental in pushing draconian anti-gay penalties in Russia (where billionaire oligarchs provide funding), Uganda, Kenya, and Nigeria. WCF has strong ties to American religious and conservative groups such as Focus On The Family and the Knights of Columbus. The First Ladies of Nigeria and Uganda attended WCF events shortly before their respective governments implemented anti-LGBTQ+ measures. The Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled the WCF a hate group. Among the conspiracy lies peddled by the WCF are that LGBTQ+ people are responsible for the Holocaust and the Rwandan Genocide.


I am always amazed that anyone would be proud to go to their grave with the legacy of having persecuted other human beings.

You can be sure that in 2024, Emma Djan will be tackling homophobia in Ghana.

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