|Stephane Tchakam, Charge de Communication Pan Africa ILGA|
The Coalition Against Homophobia in Ghana (CAHG) is a group of organizations and individuals that aims to counter ongoing attacks against homosexuals in Ghana. The Coalition supports the Human Rights of all Human beings including Lesbian, Gays, Bisexuals, and Transgender (LGBT) individuals in the country.
The Coalition has been paying close attention to the discussion in the print and broadcast media regarding the allegedly increasing numbers of homosexuals in Ghana. In these discussions, religious, political, and traditional leaders, as well as media pundits have condemned homosexuality as a threat to national security, as pathological, as un-African, and/or as ungodly. Instead of coming out with practical programs and activities to help deal with the issues associated with human sexuality – including homosexuality and bisexuality - reports are flying virtually every day on front pages of newspapers, promoting fear and hatred against homosexuality.
Recently, the President, John Evans Atta Mills, denounced homosexuality and promised to take steps, although unspecified, to combat it. Thus, it is no surprise that in this context, the Western Region Minister, Paul Evans Aidoo, made an order for the “immediate arrest of all homosexuals in the (Western) region” last week according to Myjoyonline.com.
CAHG vehemently denounces these types of sensationalist, unfounded, and bigoted attacks against LGBT Ghanaians, who are brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, daughters and sons of Ghanaian families just like any other Ghanaians. LGBT people are in every conceivable walk of life and have existed throughout history. Contrary to unsubstantiated and speculative remarks that homosexuals are “evil”, “filthy”, and “ungodly”, LGBT people are our family members, co-workers, worshippers, taxpayers, voters, media people, pastors and lovers who deserve the same rights and protection under the Ghanaian Constitution as anyone else.
Hate and violence
Unfortunately, a few people with religious, political, and institutional power continue to use their privilege to perpetuate hate and violence against homosexuals with the support of the criminal code 1960, Act 29, which criminalizes “unnatural carnal knowledge”--ironically a “western” concept imported to Ghana during British colonization of the country. If these anti-homosexual forces care about the future of Ghana, then the coalition calls on them to do something about issues that actually pose a threat to Ghana’s future such as poverty, women’s rights, class inequalities, environmental destruction, educational rights, and job opportunities. Addressing such issues would be more productive for the country than utilizing fear- mongering tactics to divide Ghanaian people from their LGBT family members and colleagues.
Although the international community has not said much on the issue to date, HIV prevention experts and human rights activist from different parts of the world have come out to allay the attacks against LGBT people. The Coalition urges Ghanaians harbouring hostility against LGBT people to “judge not lest ye be judged” and set aside their animosities for the good of the country and its diverse citizenry.
In view of this situation, the Coalition members have made themselves available to 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.
As United Nations Secretary –General Ban Ki-moon recently declared:
“I understand that sexual orientation and gender identity raise sensitive cultural issues. But cultural practices cannot justify any violation of human rights…. When our fellow humans are persecuted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, we must speak out…States bears the primary responsibility to protect the human rights of all its citizens”.
CAHG calls on the government and the good people of Ghana to condemn the ongoing attacks and to support the rights of LGBT Ghanaians before our country becomes a pariah state like Uganda and Zimbabwe. The current state of affairs disgraces Ghana’s image internationally and calls negative attention to its human rights practices. Further it creates an environment where no one is safe to be themselves due to fear that someone might suspect they are homosexual. With the help of our local and African Regional allies of Human Rights Defenders, the Coalition will continue to organize against any efforts by hateful groups, institutions, and individuals to demean, blackmail, arrest, or violently assault LGBT individuals, ironically in the name of God or any other religion. We invite everyone who supports the human rights and dignity of all human beings, irrespective of their sexual orientation or gender identity, to join the fight against homophobia in Ghana.
We encourage all to channel any inquiries to our email for further information.
“CAHG stands firm with all the LGBT people in Ghana as they struggle to maintain their freedom and dignity."
The Coalition Against Homophobia in Ghana