Ghana Moves to Arrest Gays and Lesbians

Gays and lesbians in Uganda are not the only ones living in fear for their lives in Africa. According to news reports from Ghana, “the Western Region Minister Paul Evans Aidoo has ordered the immediate arrest of all homosexuals in the region.”

The move comes after the Christian Council of Ghana released “a strongly worded message against the practice [of homosexuality] and courting Ghanaians not to vote for any politician who believes in the rights of homosexuals.”

What moved the “Christian Council” to action was media reports that there were about 8,000 gay and lesbian people living in the region, something the Gay and Lesbian Association of Ghana [GALAG] disputes. “We have no clear estimate of the number of GLBT in Ghana,” they stated, but did say they had research to support that perhaps 2,000 were living in Accra and Tema. “Each of these men and women contributes positively to Ghanaian life,” they asserted.

The Christian Post reported that Rev. Dr. Fred Deegbe, General Secretary of the council, blamed Western influences for the existence of gays and lesbians in his country.

“We Ghanaians and for that matter Africans cherish our rich and strong values on issues such as homosexuality and we must not allow anyone or group of people to impose what is acceptable in their culture on us in the name of human rights,” Deegbe said.

Apparently, the only “human right” gays and lesbians have, according to Deegbe is the right to pray away the gay, saying “as Christians we are not stigmatizing homosexuals and do not want them to be victimized. But, we want to accept them and provide the necessary help they may require to heal them.”

It’s unclear how calling for the arrest of gays and lesbians, and the declaration from Aidoo that “all efforts are being made to get rid of these people in the society,” is somehow not stigmatizing or victimizing of a whole community of people.

There has, so far, been no connection made to the U.S. religious right influence that played a major role in the anti-homosexual campaign in Uganda. Their influence on Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” bill has been well-documented—and may have played an indirect role in influencing Ghana’s new anti-gay activism.

Homosexuality is illegal in Ghana, but is considered a misdemeanor—and some gays and lesbians live openly. The viciousness of this new attack, though, could lead to more aggressive anti-homosexuality legislation and possibly even violence against gay and lesbian Ghanaians.

Candace Chellew-Hodge is the founder/editor of Whosoever: An Online Magazine for GLBT Christians and currently serves as the pastor of Jubilee! Circle in Columbia, S.C. She is also the author of Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians (Jossey-Bass, 2008)