|Stephane Tchakam, Charge de Communication Pan Africa ILGA|
The following open letter to President John Evans Atta Mills is reprinted from GhanaWeb. Appiah Danquah Kufuor is a columnist for GhanaWeb.
I was absolutely gobsmacked when I read the edict of the Western Region Minister concerning the homosexual community in Ghana. My initial reaction was, is it true? Am I day dreaming? My initial horror was compounded by the statement that the Regional Minister has asked the BNI and all security agencies to smoke out homosexuals and also enlisted the services of landlords and tenants to provide reliable information which will lead to the arrest of homosexuals.
My day dreaming turned into a Frankenstein monster when I read this line by the Regional Minister “all efforts are being made to get rid of these people”-by what means if I may ask? Firing squad? Injection? Castration? Beheading? Oh, Mr Minister- power has gone into your skull.
I do not intend to waste my time on the legality of his edict as it is unjustified, illegal, undemocratic, arrogant and quite simply very dangerous- indeed extremely dangerous. Mr President, being an eminent law Professor you will attest to the fact that in a democratic society, no one or no group of people can be subject to surveillance, arrest and imprisonment without recourse to the courts.
The world is a global village and I can assure the Regional Minister 100% certainty that if a single homosexual person is killed because of your edict, as night follows day you will have your day in court.
You may find temporary comfort on the shores of Ghana but as Mr President you stated in your victory speech at Sunyani- “the wheels of justice grind slowly”. The EU and Western European Countries will await the arrival of the Regional Minister on their shores with much anticipation. Mr, President this is not a moral issue it is a fundamental principle of natural justice. We are all aware of your stance on the issue of homosexuality but you have never advocated for their arrests. What about our churches? Where is the Christian Church?
Many of us are not surprised by the role being played by the contemporary church in Ghana, they are following in the footsteps of their European counterparts during the holocaust period. Most churches throughout Europe were mostly silent while Jews were persecuted, deported and murdered by the Nazis. Likewise, churches in Ghana are acting as any human institution – self interests- narrowly defined and very short sighted. There is little desire on the part of the Churches for self-sacrifice or heroism. Christian leaders in Ghana must stop debating points of doctrine and challenge undemocratic edicts-they must not passively acquiesce to this dangerous demagogue’s instruction. Christian leaders in Ghana must develop adequate moral and political responses to such tyrannical commands and respond to it on equal measure. The Churches must have a vision and determination not just to condemn homosexuality but show love. Protestant and Catholic religious leaders loyal to creeds professing that love can withstand and conquer evil, must stand up and be counted. Mr, President it seems to many Ghanaians that the Christian Churches in Ghana through their actions have been preparing the way for the mass destruction of Ghana’s homosexuals. This is clearly seen through its proselytization, continual attacks on homosexuality and their tacit support for the harassment, arrest and liquidation of all homosexuals. Our perfect, forgiving, merciful, compassionate Lord Jesus Christ will definitely feel the pains of the homosexuals as they cried out to him.
This is especially haunting, of course, because the Christian clergy and laity in Ghana have never thought of their respective Churches as mere institutions, but as a religious body witnessing in the world to certain values, including love of neighbours, the sanctity of life and the power of moral conscience.
To make it worse Ghanaian churches have argued that homosexuality is un-African and that it never existed in any prominent way in African societies.
But of course, as historians of Africa are beginning to learn, we now know that the basic assumptions underlying these African attitudes towards homosexuality are wrong and quite clearly ahistorical. At the very dawn of history in Southern Africa, when there was a transition from the hunting-gathering economy of the Khoisan to the cattle-based economy of Bantu-speaking people that brought more male control over the sexuality of women, dissident sexualities such as hungochani (homosexuality) began to emerge or were already known.
Among the Lovedu people, the gender inversion involved women. The “rain queen” kept her virginity but married girls. In the nineteenth century, Ndebele and Ngoni warriors introduced the practice of ritual male-male sexuality as part of war preparations.
The history lesson will be put on ice for now but my point is simple, if we want to argue that homosexuality is “un-African”, it is better not to use “tradition” as a justification for our homophobia. It is fallacious, therefore, for Africans to claim that “tradition” dictates that homosexuality is “un-African”.
The actions of the Regional Minister reminds one of Heinrich Himmler, Head of the Nazi SS, who likened a homosexual who was killed in 1936 and thrown into a great bog to the weeding process in a garden. Like Himmler, the Regional Minister wants us to “identify” the homosexual and remove them from society. Mr, Regional Minister I have news for you. Never, Never, Never again would the world community sit idle for any regime, government, individual or institution to act with impunity.
We all love our country; it is well known for its friendliness, tolerance, fairness and compassionate nature. Its democratic credentials are the envy of the world and I am proud of its secular nature. None of us, is and must be above the law. No Ghanaian, and I mean no Ghanaian can be arrested for being a homosexual. The police service and the security agents must disregard the rantings of this Himmler in the Western Region and better still I will implore the President to get rid of this cantankerous, obnoxious man.