Accra 4th October, 2011. The Coalition Against Homophobia in Ghana (CAHG) is deeply concerned about a statement issued by the Ghana Aids Commission (GAC), captured by the Daily Guide on Friday 3rd June 2011. This statement was only recently brought to the attention of CAHG members.
The statement was headed “AIDS Commission Monitors Gays”, according to the newspaper, “in reaction to reports of gay activities”. In the statement, Dr. Angela El-Adas, Director General of GAC, said that the MSM (men having sex with men) situation in Ghana was “an issue we cannot run away from”.
The statement subsequently says that “it is important that all hands are on deck to reduce the number of young people who are lured into MSM” and called on “all religious leaders, traditional authorities, educationist, parents and NGOs working with young people to get involved in educating males on the dangers of being involved in sex with other men”.
This was followed by a press conference by a member of the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC) who is also a member of the Christian Council of Ghana to condemn homosexuals. The press conference allegedly included references to members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) community calling for the de-criminalization of homosexuality in the country – which has not been the case to date. Those in attendance called for everyone to fight against homosexual individuals and groups, plus defeat any member of parliament supportive of homosexuals and homosexuality in the next election.
Following this, traditional leader have also condemned homosexuality and called for arrest of any people who engage in the practice. After President John Evans Atta-Mills made homophobic comments during his nomination acceptance speech in Sunyani, the Western Regional Minister, Mr. Paul Evans Aidoo, also called for the arrest of all homosexuals in the region.
Even the newly-appointed head of CHRAJ – mandated to protect the Human Rights of all Ghanaians – has recently back-pedaled and distanced herself from an earlier statement that she made which was “misquoted” as calling for de-criminalization of homosexuality. This was a particularly discouraging turn of events for Coalition members.
The coalition believes the statement made by the Ghana AIDS Commission set the stage for the present homophobic attacks against gay and lesbian people who are just trying to live their lives on a daily basis like anyone else. We know of no members of the LGBT community who attempt to lure young people into homosexual behavior. We believe adults having sex with minors is wrong, whether the perpetrator be heterosexual or homosexual. Such behavior must always be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
We feel the statement issued by the Ghana Aids Commission has been inflammatory and seriously misunderstood by the general public as giving license to gay-bashing and other forms of discrimination against members of the LGBT community. We call on the GAC to clearly state how its position has evolved on homosexuality in Ghana to give the public and the LGBT community a clear idea on their position. The GAC’s job is to work in all areas of HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, care and support; not to derogate or single out any particular population for further stigmatization and discrimination.
Since over 90% of people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in Ghana to date are heterosexual, it seems particularly inappropriate to be calling on Ghanaian leaders to single out men having sex with men as culprits to be arrested or incarcerated in the midst of this serious epidemic.
Because of the HIV/AIDS statistics to date, should the GAC be warning only males and females about the risk of having sex with each other? No, that would be ridiculous.
Rather, GAC should just be educating ALL Ghanaians – male and female of all ages, in all occupations and all religions – about the risk of having unprotected penetrative sex, about having multiple sexual partners and about stigmatizing any of our Ghanaian sisters and brothers, who have all been created equal in the eyes of our Creator.
For more information, please contact the coalition on firstname.lastname@example.org
Or Nii Addo on +233 277 754247