Recognizing the rights of Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons is a thorny issue in most African countries.
Only a handful of countries on the continent are willing to discuss and recognize the rights of such persons.
Most Africans consider the sexual orientation of such persons immoral, absurd and an affront to their culture and religion. They are always apprehensive when the issue of homosexual rights come up.
Ghana is one of the countries that is struggling to settle the issue of gay rights once and for all.
A new survey conducted shows that Ghanaians are more apprehensive about the perceived negative consequences of LGBTI issues than surge in crime rates.
They also will prefer to live in poverty, become jobless and have poor infrastructure than recognize the rights of gays.
The survey was conducted by African Centre For International Law and Accountability (ACILA).
In a statement on Monday the centre said the only concern that ranks above gay rights for Ghanaians is corruption.
1200 respondents across five regions of Ghana were surveyed according to the statement from ACILA.
KEY HIGHLIGHTS OF FINDINGS
- Ghanaians are more concerned about the perceived negative consequences of LGBTI issues than armed robbery, high cost of living, unemployment, rape/defilement, and poor infrastructure. Corruption was the number one concern followed closely by LGBTI issues.
- About 60% of Ghanaians “strongly disagree” or “disagree” LGBTIs deserve equal treatment as heterosexuals.
- A significant number of Ghanaians (87%) are against allowing LGBTI persons holding public meetings to discuss LGBTI issues.
- Majority of Ghanaians (80%) are “very uncomfortable” or “uncomfortable” associating themselves with LGBTIs. However, about 67% will receive
emergency medical treatment from a nurse or doctor they perceive as LGBTI.
- About 13% of Ghanaians will “physically abuse”, “verbally abuse” or “force” an LGBTI to hide his or her identity if they discover a person who is
Majority of Ghanaians (45.3%) will “socially shun” an identified LGBTI.
- More than 75% of Ghanaians applaud homophobic statements by state officials, religious leaders, or influential people in society. Only 24.5% say
homophobic statements should be condemned.
- Thirty-six per cent of Ghanaians are of the opinion that LGBTIs should be discriminated against in job search, religious association (10%) and
public appointments (9.16%).
- More than 54% of Ghanaians say expelling students perceived to be LGBTI should be promoted.
Ghana’s laws on human rights
The West African nation’s Constitution drafted in 1992 guarantees human rights to all persons.
Ghana is required by the UN, other international instruments and obligations, as well as its 1992 Constitution to
protect the rights of all citizens in Ghana.
Ghana has committed to provide Equal Protection of the Law from violence and discrimination
to all persons including LGBTI people under the United Nations Universal Periodic Review mechanism.
The countries laws however do not recognize same-sex unions and sexual relationships between LGBTI persons.
Hatred for LGBTI persons
Ghanaians have on several occasions attacked persons they perceive to be gays and lesbians with victims left without protection even from the police.
The country in January this year was 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 LGBTI 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.”
Lawmakers against gay rights
The Speaker of Ghana’s parliament this year also threatened to resign if any attempt is made to put a legislation before the law-making chamber to approve gay rights.
Professor Mike Oquaye who is also a religious leader in the West African nation is a major campaigner against homosexuality in Ghana.
Ghana’s parliament Speaker told local TV channel, Metro TV in May that “If anybody should bring such a thing to parliament and I have to preside over that I will rather resign than subscribe to this delusion.”
Oquaye said that homosexuality is “a phenomenon calculated by Satan to destroy God’s best formation; that is the human being…it is evil, very very evil, and dangerous and the church cannot allow it.”
Ghana’s current laws do not permit homosexual activities and the laws can only be reviewed in parliament.
Human rights groups continue to push for the protection of the rights of LGBTI persons but such campaigns from all indications may struggle to achieve any results anytime soon.