Coalition spokesperson, Mac-Darling Cobbinah was interviewed by Behind the Mask, the following are excerpts.
What was the reason for establishing the coalition?
The coalition was formed to address issues of homophobia within institutions and the Ghanaian society. Institutions, in this context, are both human rights and HIV/Aids groups who do not honour diversity but promote hatred and call homosexuals names behind their backs.
The coalition was formed to also respond to all questions, queries, enquiries and contributions relating to issues around LGBT sexual rights, health, and socio economic well being in Ghana.
The Coalition is ready to open its doors to the local and international media and all those who want accurate information on LGBT issues, so that some of the misperceptions will be diffused and media backlash stopped.
The Coalition has among its objectives to create a friendly rapport between the media and the LGBT community and also educate people to respect the rights of LGBT people’s privacy and human dignity, which is a vital part of fundamental human rights.
What organisations constitute the Coalition?
The coalition memberships are human Rights and sexual and reproductive health rights organizations and groups. We will be out with the list of organisations or groups as soon as we conclude it.
How is the Coalition governed?
The coalition is governed by the principles of equal rights and justice.
Was the Coalition set up to attack the government on issues relating to homosexuality in Ghana?
No. The coalition was set up to deal with the high rate of homophobia from the Ghanaian society including religious groups and preachers.
For instance, a statement released by the Ghana Aids Commission recently called on religious groups and traditional leaders to reduce the number of young people who are “lured” into homosexuality in the country.
“It is important that all hands are on deck to reduce the number of young people who are lured into MSM,” the commission said and called on all religious leaders, traditional authorities, educationists, parents and NGOs working with young people, to get involved in educating young males on the dangers of being involved in sex with other men.
The religious groups have responded with a member of the Ghana Aids Commission, who is also the leader of the Christian Council of Ghana, who publicly called for an end to homosexual activities in the country and also asked the people to vote against any politician who supports the issues around homosexuals.
What are the current activities of the coalition and how are they funded?
The coalition activities involves following media releases and stories and responding to them appropriately. We are also looking forward to hiring a consultant to help develop a security and protection plan for individuals and group members of the coalitions and their organisations.
We are also organising a “speaker’s bureau” to train some speakers across the regions of Ghana to respond to the media on issues relating to homosexuality.
We are also inviting groups into sexual rights and democracy to get on board to help educate and build a diverse and all inclusive society. There has been no funding for the coalition activities yet.
Any other information?
We think the groups and concerned organizations should support build the capacity of LGBT organizations and groups to control the situation instead of dictating.
The issues affecting the LGBT community is not just HIV/Aids, but homophobia, which forces funding organisations to channel their funds to mainstream organizations to run MSM programs instead of equipping LGBTI organizations to manage and respond to threats appropriately.
Homophobia is deep rooted in most of the HIV/Aids organisations and groups in Ghana and funders for MSM programs needs to look at where their funds go to and the use of such funds.