LGBTIQ+ people and rights under attack; journalist detained

Nana Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana, arrives at United Nations headquarters during the 76th Session of the U.N. General Assembly, in New York, September 20, 2021. John Minchillo/Pool via REUTERS

LGBTIQ+ people and rights under attack in Ghana

LGBTIQ+ groups say they have seen an increase in attacks on LGBTIQ+ people since the controversial draconian anti-LGBTIQ+ law, the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill 2021, was introduced in Parliament at the end of June 2021 by eight Members of Parliament. As reported previously on the Monitor, the draft law would set high prison sentences for identifying as LGBTIQ+ and those supporting or advocating for LGBTIQ+ rights – the latter punishable with prison sentences of up to ten years. In November 2021, Ghana's Parliament opened public hearings on the draft law. 

In a recent interview with CIVICUS, Danny Bediako, founder of Rightify Ghana commented:

"The implications of the bill reach even beyond those who identify as part of the LGBTQI+ community and are already being felt, even before it has been passed. Blackmail has become a major issue faced by the LGBTQI+ community. We used to see two or three cases a week, but now we are getting about three per day. We are seeing homophobic people on dating sites and social media pose as gay to lure gay men into their homes, where they subject them to group violence. In one particular case, the victim was blackmailed and threatened with death. If the bill is passed, people like these will have free rein to harm others, because the law will condone their behaviour."

This year had already witnessed an LGBTIQ+ centre forced to shut its door following a police raid and the arbitrary and unlawful detention of 21 people while attending a paralegal training session in May 2021 organised by Rightify Ghana on how to document and report violations against LGBTIQ+ people. Human rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) published a report outlining the hardships - including economic hardship and psychological stress - suffered as a result of their detention for 22 days before their release on bail. The case against the 21 was dismissed in August 2021 due to “insufficient evidence”.

Peaceful Assembly

Justice for Ghana protest e-levy in 2022 budget

On 8th December 2021, dozens of protesters from the group Justice for Ghana marched to demand the withdrawal of a proposed levy on electronic money transfers contained in the 2022 budget, saying that Ghanaians already face enough economic hardship. Prior to the protest, police presented the group with a High Court injunction, prohibiting protesters from picketing at the Parliament. On 8th December, however, protesters arrived at the entrance of the Parliament, where they were stopped by police, who refused them entrance to the Parliament's forecourt to present their petition. After negotiations, police allowed ten protesters to hand over the petition.

#FixTheCountry protests 

On 4th August 2021, thousands gathered in Accra to protest for improved socio-economic conditions in the country, ranging from employment opportunities, fixing the roads, lower taxes and better service delivery.  As reported previously on the Monitor, #FixTheCountry started out as a social media campaign and became a movement demanding better living conditions. A previous planned protest in May 2021 was denied a permit. No incidents were reported. 

Radio journalist detained

According to the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) and local news sources, Nhyiraba Paa Kwesi Simpson, a journalist and host for Connect FM, was detained on 1st November 2021 on charges of publishing false news with the intent to cause fear and alarm to the public contrary to the Public Order Act, and false publication of news through an electronic device contrary to the Electronic Communications Act 775 of 2008. The arrest relates to a call-in from Stephen Kumi, who claimed on the radio show that his girlfriend had been kidnapped. Both Simpson and Kumi were detained after police said that their investigations showed that the kidnap claim was a hoax. Both men were remanded in police custody by the Takoradi High Court. Simpson was reportedly granted bail on 8th November 2021.