Naomi Campbell, Idris Elba and Michaela Coel are among those who have signed an open letter in support of Ghana’s LGBTQ+ community.
The letter addresses the recent closure of Ghana’s first and only LGBTQ+ community centre due to backlash from anti-LGBTQ+ groups and politicians.
Supermodel Campbell is joined by a host of other well-known signatories including British Vogue Editor in Chief Edward Enninful, broadcaster Reggie Yates, actor Paapa Essiedu, radio DJ Clara Amfo, architect Sir David Adjaye and model Adwoa Aboah.
The letter calls on Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo to “reach out and engage in a meaningful and purposeful dialogue” with the nation’s LGBTQ+ population.
The letter signed by Naomi Campbell and 65 others says: “To our Ghanaian LGBTQ+ family: We see you and we hear you. We are in awe of your strength, your bravery and your audacity to be true to who you are even when it is dangerous to do so.
“You are loved, you are important and you deserve a safe place to gather in your shared experience.”
In the West African nation of Ghana, the LGBTQ+ community face widespread discrimination and while no-one has been prosecuted for same-sex relations in years, it is punishable with up to three years imprisonment.
Human rights researchers say that the LGBTQ+ community in Ghana frequently experience abuse and discrimination in the form of blackmail and attacks.
The founder of the centre Alex Kofi Donkor said the homophobic abuse being subjected to staff and visitors was “scary” and he was left with no choice but to close the centre temporarily in order to protect their safety.
“In recent weeks we have watched with profound concern as you have had to question the safety of your vital work at the ‘LGBT+ Rights Ghana’ centre in Accra, and feared for your personal wellbeing and security,” the letter says.
“It is unacceptable to us that you feel unsafe. Even though at present you might be feeling alone and concerned, we want to assure you that we are here.”
It adds: “As prominent and powerful advocates for this great country, we are beseeching his excellency, the president of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo and political/cultural leaders to reach out and engage in a meaningful and purposeful dialogue with the LGBTQIA+ community leaders to create a pathway for allyship, protection and support.
“We petition for inclusivity which will make the nation even greater and even stronger.”
Donkor says that while he is unsure when the centre will reopen, he will continue to fight against homophobia.
“There is nothing illegal about the centre. The idea is to create a safe space for the LGBT+ community,” he said. “We will not give up this fight. We cannot give up on our human rights.”
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