21 people were arrested in Ghana for attending a meeting to discuss LGBTQ+ rights last Friday. The police claimed that this was an unlawful gathering that was promoting an LGBTQ+ agenda.
The 21 have been denied bail and will appear before court on June 4. Activists say that what is happening is a breach of human rights. The statement from the police also called on the public to report other LGBTQ+ people.
Yesterday, our colleagues were arrested in Ho, volta region for organising a workshop aimed at strengthening the community. They have been arraigned to court on the charges of unlawful assembly. This is unacceptable. pic.twitter.com/vc3PKJa6Ee
— LGBT+ Rights Ghana (@LGBTRightsGhana) May 21, 2021
"Freedom and Justice"
Where is the Freedom?
Where is the Justice? @GhPoliceService There are gay, lesbian and transgender Ghanaians! Learn to live with it! That way you may learn the meaning of tolerance and, hopefully, love. #ReleaseThe21 ✊????️?
— #ReleaseThe21 ✊????️? (@ahuoden) May 22, 2021
Director of LGBT Rights Ghana, Alex Kofi Donkor, told UniversNews that this is “a clear indication of the police inciting hate and violence against other citizens.” He also questioned the legality of such a move. “Which part of our constitution or criminal code criminalises LGBTQ persons such that you will ask that people should report incidents? This is a clear violation of our human rights as equal citizens of this country and it is being perpetrated by the police who have a mandate to protect us.”
There is no law in Ghana that says being LGBTQ+ is illegal. But same-sex relationships are criminalised with up to three years in prison by a criminal code introduced by the British when they ruled Ghana. However, it is rarely used and no one has been prosecuted in years.
— Melons_rVeggies™ #release_the_21 (@Melons_rVeggies) May 24, 2021
In January, Ghana’s first LGBTQ+ community centre and safe space opened. Following anti-LGBTQ+ protests against the community space, the LGBT Rights Ghana centre was closed by police in the capital Accra on February 25. LGBT Rights Ghana, who had an office in the centre, were defiant following its closure saying: “We will triumph. The police may have raided our office, and closed it down but the real office is in our hearts, and minds.”
Rights organisation Rightify Ghana said that journalists collaborated with the police to detain the group in the hotel where the meeting was taking place until the police could show up.
“We are calling on the Ghana Police Service to #ReleaseThe21,” the group said.
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