LGTBIphobia multiplies in Ghana after a bill that sentences LGTBIQ+ people to up to 10 years
Ghana lived for several years unprecedented wave of LGBTIphobia. This situation reached its peak in February 2021 with the eviction by the Police of the permanent reception service of one of the few associations that support the collective LGTBIQ+ (LGBT+ Rights Ghana) just one month after the opening of the space.
Since then, the community has been the target of violent attacks in the Ghanaian media and on social media by politicians, journalists and religious leaders. «Homosexuals are not going to suddenly disappear with the appearance of a new law, it is just that they will tend to hide even more«, Warns Alexander Marcel, of the Idaho Committee.
The draft presented a year ago, which is supported by members of the ruling party, threatens to turn the country into one of the most authoritarian, insecure and repressive in Africa. The bill includes:
- Up to 5 years in prison for being LGBTIQ+.
- Up to 10 years in jail for anyone who participates in activities that support LGBTIQ+ people.
- 'Cure' homosexuality with conversion therapies.
- That trans people cannot access medical treatment, threatening doctors who participate with up to 5 years in prison.
- Operate on intersex children with invasive surgical interventions
This law is a serious violation of human rights. The situation is summed up clearly by some activists. “we are all in danger"Sentence Kwame Amankwah Afrifa, queer activist and director of the association in support of sexual minorities Reflex Ghana. "Attacks have doubled; I fear that some people will take their own lives instead of being arrested, humiliated and tortured"Says Danny Bediak, founder and director of Rightify Ghana, popular organization dedicated to the defense of human rights LGTBI. "The law proposes the violation of the prohibition of torture”, he states in a report United Nations.
The new Promotion of proper human sexual rights and family values of Ghana (name given to the bill, which is currently under review by a parliamentary committee) unequivocally criminalizes homosexual relationships and even the defense of any issue related to the group. The eraser punishes with up to 10 years in jail to people who identify themselves as LGTBIQ + and to groups or individuals who protect their rights, express their sympathy for them or offer them social or medical support. But the text goes much further in terms of restrictions and drastic cuts in freedoms. An example: the Government reserves, in one of the most controversial articles of the draft, the power to force intersex people to undergo gender assignment surgery.
The new bill also proposes up to 10 years in prison for media outlets, online platforms or social media accounts that publish information that “encourage the children” to explore any gender or sex outside of the categories of male and female. And slide the possibility of exchanging the time behind bars for conversion therapies. The draft also prevents same-sex marriage, with the immediate annulment of weddings for gay Ghanaian couples who have married outside the country and who reside in it.
And it wants the government to guarantee that refugees who have applied for asylum abroad are returned to Ghana for his prosecution. For prohibiting, the law also prohibits even sex toys. And cross-dressing. And it requires, under penalty of imprisonment, that anyone who has knowledge of acts classified as crimes in the text report them to the authorities.
Panic among members of the LGTBIQ+ community in Ghana
"The bill threatens access to information, privacy, and freedom of expression, association, assembly, and thought and conscience", summarizes bediakoof the organization Rightify Ghana. "It will increase panic among community members, who already live in constant fear. They will have to deny themselves, accept conversion therapy or go to jail", Add. With the same concern he expresses Kwame Amankwah Afrifa, activist of Reflex Ghana. "Discrimination and hate are already beginning to be seen on social networks, on the street and at work. In addition, the police break up parties and gatherings. Our lives are in danger".
"Since the bill against LGBTQ+ people was presented, we have seen an increase in many types of violence (against members of this community)”, indicates Leila, a queer activist from Ghana, when talking about the impact of a bill against people LGTBIQ +"Attacks by individuals, communities, as well as an increase in calls corrective violations".
Leila describes a recent case she has worked on, in which six men robbed and raped three women in their 30s. She also explains the case of a 15-year-old girl who was raped by men who claimed that she was a lesbian. Many of these violations go unreported because the aggressors are relatives of the victims or members of their community.