Homophobia in Ghana.. A Growing Crisis Amid Legislative Changes

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On the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, the global spotlight turns to the increasing challenges faced by the LGBT+ community. In Ghana, a significant legislative shift occurred this past February when Parliament voted to enact a law—yet to be ratified—that would subject individuals identifying as LGBT+ to a three-year prison sentence.

Prominent Ghanaian artist Wanlov the Kubolor remarks that “the current poverty, lack of education, and lack of opportunities have made the average Ghanaian angrier and more inclined towards hatred.”

This alarming trend reflects a broader pattern across the African continent, where 31 countries criminalize same-sex relationships. In extreme cases, nations like Mauritania and Uganda enforce the death penalty for such acts. Amnesty International reports a tightening of anti-LGBT laws in several African countries, contributing to a hostile environment for sexual minorities.

In Ghana, the legislative landscape is particularly severe. The recent bill passed in February but awaiting ratification would impose three-year imprisonment on those identifying as LGBT+. Wanlov the Kubolor has vocalized the depth of discrimination faced by homosexual individuals in Ghana today.

“Being LGBT+ is Seen as a Sin”

Speaking to Guilhem Fabry, Wanlov described the pervasive microaggressions against the LGBT+ community: “If you are a man with effeminate tendencies, or if you display certain behaviors in public transport, people react negatively. It becomes nearly impossible to form friendships, as many are embarrassed to be seen with you in public. This societal alienation is profound because, nowadays, being LGBT+ is considered a sin.”

Reflecting on his experiences, Wanlov noted a stark increase in homophobia: “Growing up, I didn’t feel as much homophobia as I do today. The current poverty, lack of education, and lack of opportunities have made the average Ghanaian angrier and more prone to hate.

The current Vice President, Mahamudu Bawumia, who aspires to become President, is running a homophobic campaign. Similarly, former President John Mahama, seeking re-election, follows the same path. From the top echelons of the state to the everyday Ghanaian, the atmosphere is intensely homophobic.”

On May 8, the Ghanaian Supreme Court began reviewing appeals against the law passed by Parliament. As Ghana heads towards its general elections on December 7, 2024, the issue of LGBT+ rights is a significant topic of debate. President Nana Akufo-Addo has yet to enact the controversial law, leaving the nation at a critical juncture regarding its stance on LGBT+ rights.

In the lead-up to the elections, the discussions surrounding this law and its implications are expected to intensify, highlighting the need for greater awareness and advocacy for the rights of LGBT+ individuals in Ghana.

Soukaina Sghir

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