’The most homophobic document in the world’ and how it will affect Ghana’s LGBTQIA+ community
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CAPE TOWN – Dubbed the “most homophobic document the world has ever seen”, legislators in Ghana are hell bent on passing a new law making life even harder for LGBTQIA+ persons in the West African country, a bill which essentially strips the community of all their human rights.
The 36-page Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill 2021, which is yet to be considered by parliament, seeks to criminalise LGBTQIA+ activities in the staunchly religious West African country.
The draft bill also proposes punishment for groups and individuals who advocate for LGBTQIA+ rights, express sympathy or offer social or medical support.
There has been widespread condemnation on social media of Ghana’s proposed “anti-gay” bill that legislators in the West African country are seeking to implement.
In an exclusive interview with the African News Agency ANA, we spoke to Alex Kofi Donkor who is an openly gay human rights advocate and the director of LGBTQIA+ Rights Ghana, which is a movement of LGBTQIA persons, championing the freedom for all LGBTQIA+ persons in Ghana under the slogan, #BornFreeAndEqual.
“As LGBTQ+ Ghanaians, we continue to live in fear, the fear of your known or perceived sexual orientation on the streets, the fear of being rejected by family members, being sacked from school or from work, the fear of being emotionally and psychologically abused on a daily basis, and currently the fear of being criminalised for your known or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Donkor said that being part of the LGBTQIA+ community in Ghana is like being a second class citizen, in which they live in a constant state of fear, and unable to live up to their full potential because of their sexual orientation.
He said that living in a continuous state of fear means that as LGBTQIA+ citizens, they are even unable to contribute to the development of the country.
“The situation has worsened in recent times, with the closure of a community space, which was a centre for LGBTQIA+ people in Ghana, following a wave of protest against the rights of sexual minorities in the country.”
He said there had been individual abuses and violations on LGBTQIA+ persons with the arrest of 22 people in the Southeastern city of Ho earlier this year for attending a conference, as well as the unlawful arrest of 21 people in May by heavy handed police, for what the authorities deemed an “unlawful assembly” and advocating a “gay agenda”.
“They were subjecting them to cruel and inhumane treatment for 22 days in jail cells and the multiple denial of bail for these 22 persons,” said Donkor.
According to media reports, a Ghanaian court acquitted and freed 21 people who were arrested during a crackdown on homosexuality in May for attending the LGBTQIA+ event, after a global outcry from rights groups in Ghana and abroad.
They were arrested illegally in his opinion, he said.
“They were not supposed to be arrested, for them to be acquitted of the charges, only goes to point to the impunity and the abuses that the Ghana police continue to perpetuate towards the LGBTQIA+ community.
“We have been constantly ignored by state institutions and even the Ghanaian public at large with regards to the abuse against LGBTQIA+ persons.”
He added that the constant abuses come from the institutions that are meant to protect them on a daily basis, yet they are the ones perpetrating the abuses against them.
“We have continuously been ignored in these conversations and the abuses that we keep calling out,” said Donkor.
Donkor added that due to the high level of homophobia and volatility in the country at present, he has had to take extra precautions for his own safety, amid the growing wave of hate against the community, which has been fueled by the proposed “anti-gay bill”.
African News Agency (ANA)