LGBTI groups have come together in Ghana. They want to create a plan of how to overcome violence and discrimination in the African country.
Sisters of the Heart in partnership with Alliance for Dynamics Initiative came together to discuss how to protect the rights of LBQT persons in Ghana.
The meeting is important because LBTQ persons in Ghana continue to face widespread discimination and violence.
The discrimination contravenes the laws of Ghana (fundamental human rights). It also contravenes the United Nations instruments which Ghana has accepted to create a safe environment for all people in Ghana.
Last month, police arrested a group of men in Kasoa for luring, beating and robbing suspected gay men.
In 2017 alone, media reported more than 200 acts of violence against people perceived as gay or lesbian.
In recent research conducted by the Africa Center for International Law and Accountability, 87% of Ghanaians said they were against allowing LGBTI persons holding public meetings to discuss LGBTI issues.
Ninety-one per cent of Muslims are against allowing LGBTIs holding public meetings; Christians (87%), Traditionalists (73.1%); and Atheists (33.3%). Respondents in the Volta Region had the highest approval (19.4%) allowing LGBTIs to hold public meetings.
In addition, about 13% of Ghanaians will ‘physically abuse’, ‘verbally abuse’ or ‘force’ an LGBTI to hide his or her identity. Furthermore, 45.3% of Ghanaians will ‘socially shun’ an identified LGBTI.
More than 75% of Ghanaians applaud homophobic statements by state officials, religious leaders, or influential people in society. Only 24.5% say homophobic statements should be condemned.
In fact, 36% of Ghanaians are of the opinion that LGBTIs should be discriminated against in job search, religious association (10%) and public appointments (9.16%).
More than 54% of Ghanaians say expelling students perceived to be LGBTI should be promoted.
It needs to stop
These findings show more people need to learn about the rights of all Ghanaians, LGBTI people included. That is the aim of Sisters of the Heart (SOH) and Alliance for Dynamics Initiative. They brought together relevant stakeholders to created dialogue on the way forward.
Allies and friends
POS Foundation, an ally of the LBTQ commended the organizers of the stakeholder meeting and indicate their full support in the form of conferencing,capacity building and crowd sourcing of funds.
They also said that issues of LBTQ are sensitive, hence civil society and the general public need more education and training in order to create the needed atmosphere for LBTQs in Ghana.
The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) assured LBTQs their full support.
They said that LBTQs fall within the ‘key population’ whose rights need special attention.
CHRAJ assured the LGBTI community their doors are always open to it.
Human Rights Defenders Ghana, said media training was the best strategy to use because the media is responsible for educating the public.
It is the media which reports cases of abuse and violence against LGBTI persons. That’s why they need to understand the issues surrounding this group of people before they can adequately report on them.
Better media coverage will improve public awareness on the rights of citizens and marginalized groups. This will hopefully create the needed atmosphere and environment for LBTQ persons in Ghana.
Redeemer Buatsi is the director at Human Rights Defenders Ghana.