Anti-gay uproar after Ghana opens its first LGBT+ community centre

Church groups, politicians and anti-gay rights organisations have called on the government to shut down the centre, run by local charity LGBT+ Rights Ghana, and arrest and prosecute those involved. "We did not expect such an uproar," said Alex Kofi Donkor, director of LGBT+ Rights Ghana, which hosted an opening event on Jan. 31 attended by European and Australian diplomats.

Reuters | Accra | Updated: 23-02-2021 23:25 IST | Created: 23-02-2021 23:24 IST
Anti-gay uproar after Ghana opens its first LGBT+ community centre
Representative Image Image Credit: ANI

(Deletes extraneous word 'who' in par 2) By Nita Bhalla

NAIROBI, Feb 23 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Anti-gay outcry has forced Ghana's first LGBT+ community centre to temporarily close to protect its staff and visitors three weeks after it opened, its founder said on Tuesday. Church groups, politicians and anti-gay rights organisations have called on the government to shut down the centre, run by local charity LGBT+ Rights Ghana, and arrest and prosecute those involved.

"We did not expect such an uproar," said Alex Kofi Donkor, director of LGBT+ Rights Ghana, which hosted an opening event on Jan. 31 attended by European and Australian diplomats. "We expected some homophobic organisations would use the opportunity to exploit the situation and stoke tension against the community, but the anti-gay hateful reaction has been unprecedented," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. LGBT+ people face widespread persecution in the West African nation where gay sex is punishable with up to three years imprisonment.

Ghana has not prosecuted anyone for same-sex relations in years, but LGBT+ people face frequent abuse and discrimination, including blackmail and attacks, human rights researchers say. Donkor said the anti-gay rhetoric was "scary" and he could not risk the safety of people at the centre, which offers paralegal services, counselling and training through workshops, even though its location had not been made public.

He dismissed local media reports that police had shut down the centre on the orders of Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, adding that he had not received any communication from authorities directing its closure. The government spokesman and police officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The government banned an LGBT+ conference last year after Christian groups protested. FAMILY VALUES

The National Coalition for Proper Sexual Rights and Family Values, which brings together Christian, Muslim and traditional leaders opposed to LGBT+ rights, is among those seeking to close down the centre, along with prominent church groups. "The Church rejects the unfounded and demeaning assumption that the sexual behaviour of homosexual persons is always and totally compulsive and, therefore, they should not be blamed for their homosexual acts," said the Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference.

"We call on the Government of Ghana to close down the LGBTQI office space that was recently opened in Accra (and) urge the Executive and the Legislature never to be cowed down or to succumb to the pressure to legalize the rights of LGBTQIs." A member of the ruling New Patriotic Party has also called on the public to find the centre and shut it down, while a local counsellor has called for the arrest of a popular musician who attended the launch event.

Ghana's minister of information designate has also weighed into the debate, proposing legislation against advocating for LGBT+ rights. The European Union did not immediately respond to a request for a comment but last week posted on Twitter that its delegates attended the opening and that "equality, tolerance, and respect for each other are core values of the EU".

LGBT+ Rights Ghana's Dunkor said he was not sure when the centre would reopen but the group would continue to battle against homophobia. "There is nothing illegal about the centre. The idea is to create a safe space for the LGBT+ community," he said. "We will not give up this fight. We cannot give up on our human rights."

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


TRENDING

OPINION / BLOG / INTERVIEW

Addressing conflict-related sexual violence at long last

... ...

Why unequal access to coronavirus vaccines is a threat to us all

... ...

India’s love affair with fossil fuels: the path to sustainable development?

... ...

Videos

Latest News

In a first, sanitary napkin vending machine installed at Delhi's RK Puram police station

A sanitary napkin vending machine has been installed at New Delhis RK Puram Police Station, making it the first police station in the national capital to have such a provision. On the occasion of International Womens Day on Monday, an NGO S...

Ex-minister says sexual harassment charges baseless, videos fake

BJP MLA Ramesh Jarkiholi, who had stepped down as minister on March 3 following allegations of sexual harassment against him, said on Tuesday that the videos purportedly showing him with a woman were fake and vowed to send the conspirators ...

China launches COVID-19 vaccination certificates for cross-border travel

China has launched a digital COVID-19 vaccination certificate for its citizens planning cross-border travels, joining other countries issuing similar documents as they seek ways to reopen their economies. As vaccines are globally being roll...

Paresh Rawal receives COVID-19 vaccine

Veteran actor and former BJP MP Paresh Rawal on Tuesday said that he has received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine.The 65-year-old actor took to Twitter and shared a picture, flashing the victory sign at a vaccine center.V for vacc...

Give Feedback