Ghana has been accused by the rights group, Human Rights Watch of abusing the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and those that are transgender.
The rights group in its report No Choice but to Deny Who I Am’: Violence and Discrimination against LGBT People in Ghana, said LGBT persons “suffer widespread discrimination and abuse both in public and in family settings.”
The group said “While some Ghanaian officials have publicly called for an end to violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity, the government has yet to repeal a colonial-era law that criminalizes same-sex activity.”
Section 104(1)(b) of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 in Ghana prohibits and punishes “unnatural carnal knowledge,” but Human Rights Watch said in its report that such a law fails to “actively address violence and discrimination,” and relegates “LGBT Ghanaians to effective second-class citizenship.”
HRW said although Police officials in Ghana and the county’s Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) have taken some steps to protect LGBT people, these minority persons “are still frequent victims of physical violence and psychological abuse, extortion, and discrimination in many aspects of their daily life.””
“Having a law on the books that criminalizes adult consensual same-sex conduct contributes to a climate in which LGBT people are frequently victims of violence and discrimination,” said Wendy Isaack, LGBT rights researcher at Human Rights Watch.
Isaack also said “Homophobic statements by local and national government officials, traditional elders, and senior religious leaders foment discrimination and in some cases, incite violence.”
Human Rights Watch said it interviewed 114 LGBT people in Ghana’s cities of Accra, Tamale, Kumasi, and Cape Coast in December 2016 and February 2017. The group also said it interviewed three representatives of human rights organizations based in Ghana, a CHRAJ complaints officer, the assistant police commissioner, and three diplomats in Accra on the issue for its report.
“The government should recognize that we are human beings, with dignity, not treat us as outcasts in our own society,” a 40-year old lesbian from Cape Coast told HRW.
“We want to be free, so we can stand tall in public and not deal with obstacles and harassment daily – this will make it easier for us to get an education, learn a trade, get jobs and be useful and productive Ghanaians,” the lesbian added.
“LGBT Ghanaians should have the same protection from the government as everyone else,” Isaack of HRW said stressing that “the government should work to address the stigma that subjects people to violence in their own homes, the place where they should feel safest.”