At long last, the battle has ended! And thus, Ghana, your beloved country is free forever!…from now on, today, we must change our attitudes and our minds. We must realise that from now on we are no longer a colonial but free and independent people. That new Africa is ready to fight his own battles and show that after all the black man is capable of managing his own affairs.

We are going to demonstrate to the world, to the other nations, that we are prepared to lay our foundation – our African personality…we are going to create our own Africa personality and identity. It is the only way we can show the world that we are ready for our battles.

But today, may I call upon you all, that on this great day that let us all remember that nothing can be done unless it has the support of God.

We have won the battle and again rededicate ourselves…OUR INDEPENDENCE IS MEANINGLESS UNLESS IT IS LINKED UP WITH THE TOTAL LIBERATION OF AFRICA.

Excerpts – President Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, 6th March 1957.

‘Independence’ of a country is a sovereign right that has to be respected by all nations because its cultures and traditions are unique and they also define the character of the country and her people.

In Ghana our set of cultural and traditional practices, define our identity and heritage. These are found in the language, ethnicity, food, family hierarchy, greetings, marriage ceremonies, celebrating birth and mourning the dead, which are unique to our country.

Most of our practices and beliefs have now been influenced by globalisation, technology and European religions which have been imposed on us and have also been systematically exploited internally by the elite and politicians to control and manipulate the vulnerable gullible citizenry who have now lost their common-sense of reasoning to develop their future.

One classic case of infiltration and imposition of foreign influence on Ghana is the intense pressure on the country to “respect the rights of Lesbians, Gays, Transgender and Queer” (LGBTQ) persons in spite of the fact that “open” advocacy and practice of such lifestyle is “alien” to the identity and heritage of the country.

Currently, there is an intensified discussion going on in Ghana as some celebrities, both local and international), non-governmental organizations (NGOs), civil society organizations (CSOs) and international organisations such as Amnesty International, advocating forcefully (and sometimes with impunity) for the legalisation of open practice of LGBTQ. President Nana Akufo-Addo has publicly made it clear it will not happen under his Presidency. Former Presidents John Agyekum Kufuor, the late John Atta Mills and John Mahama also had all made the same pledge and declared their stance during their respective time as heads of state.

Every individual has the prerogative human right to determine what he or she wants to do with his or her body including prostitution. This has been the respect we have for each other in our respective cultures, traditions and communities. We have co-existed peacefully and in harmony before the Europeans invaded our country and colonised it.

But for the international community to tell lies about human right abuses against LGBTQ in Ghana is utterly absurd, arrogant and hypocrisy.

Polygamy has existed in our cultures, traditions and customary laws for ages until European colonisation, which culminated in the imposition of their own interests made it illegal in our civil laws.

Yet, after 64 years of ‘independence’, we have not had the guts to reverse this obvious disregard of our traditional belief and practice. Ironically, the international community now wants to impose LGBTQ practise in our civil laws, WHY?

After 64 years of ‘independence’, do we still allow ourselves to be ruled by outsiders and dictate to us, tell us what we have to do and not how we want to be? And we cannot confidently say the same to the international community how they have to live their daily lives?

Since ‘independence’ and, as a sovereign country, do we have to put our hands between our thighs and do nothing and accept this impudence? Hell NO.

I have just filed a petition to the speaker of Parliament in support of the six Members of Parliament (MPs) who have expressed their intention to jointly sponsor a bi-partisan Private Members’ Bill for Parliament to pass specific legislation to expressly prohibit and criminalize the practice or advocacy of homosexuality in Ghana.

As I indicated in my petition, I am motivated to support this effort of the six members of parliament because I believe the Bill, if passed, will further strengthen legal jurisprudence and existing legislation on “unnatural carnal knowledge” to reflect the current state of affairs in the country.

The intended private members’ bill and the numerous petitions should be treated with all the urgency it deserves to enact a law against any form of advocacy of LGBTQ in Ghana as suggested by the honourable Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, during his ministerial vetting.

We cannot continue to play the ostrich and pretend this intensified advocacy to legitimize LGBTQ+ will die a natural death. The intensity of their campaign has been growing by the day, expecting that the legitimacy of their immoral practice is “bound to happen”.

Homosexuality in Ghana was criminalized as far back as the 1860s. Section 104 of the Ghanaian Criminal Code of 1960 contains provisions criminalizing consensual same-sex sexual acts between males. Under Section 104(1)(b) “unnatural carnal knowledge” with consent is considered a misdemeanor.

Under other subsections of Section 104, rape and bestiality are also criminalised.

Additionally, Section 104(2) defines “unnatural carnal knowledge” as “sexual intercourse with a person in an unnatural manner or with an animal.”Under Article 296(4) of the Criminal Procedural Code, a misdemeanor shall be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years.

According to a 2017 Afro-barometer report, 89% of Ghanaians said they strongly/somewhat dislike LGBT practice, which them the most disliked group in Ghana. Additionally, when examined as to who is being polled, all different demographics – those of a different age, education, religion, living style (rural or urban,) gender – reported having a dislike towards homosexuals of 80% or more.

Also, nearly 90% of Ghanaians shared that they would report a daughter, relative, friend, or co-worker to the police if they knew that they were engaging in such behavior. Additionally, 86% of Ghanaians stated they would support legislation to criminalize those who are in same-sex relationships.

While serving as president of Ghana, the late John Evans Atta Mills vowed in 2011 not to legalize homosexuality despite UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s threat to cut aid to Ghana because of its record on human rights for its gay population.

In November 2017, President Nana Akufo-Addo suggested that the legalization of homosexuality in Ghana is inevitable and said he can foresee a change in the law. Akufo-Addo, who grew up in England, said that LGBT rights will evolve in Ghana as they have in the United Kingdom, but affirmed that LGBT rights were not part of the government agenda at the moment. In response, LGBT activists announced they would hold a peaceful march in Accra in December.

In August 2018, President Akufo-Addo stated that the Government of Ghana would not legalize same-sex marriage or decriminalize homosexuality.

In February 2017, Speaker of the Parliament, Prof Aaron Mike Oquaye, called for amending the laws of Ghana to ban homosexuality entirely.

Many public officials from government and church organizations are publicly against the LGBT community. In March 2020, the National Women’s Organizer of the National Democratic Congress shared that homosexuals should be killed. Many pastors speak out against the LGBT community, such as Kofi Tawiah, Head Pastor of the Osu Church of Christ, who called on Ghanaian Christians to violently attack LGBT people. In his statement, Tawiah also stated that homosexuality should be treated with capital punishment.

Activism

LGBT activism had largely been anonymous in Ghana. However, in the year 1998, a young man named Cobbina MacDarling who uses the pseudonym Prince Kweku MacDonald became one of its voices. Prince works with the Gay and Lesbian Association of Ghana (GALAG) which was later transformed into a human rights organization known as the Centre for Popular Education and Human Rights Ghana (CEPEHRG).

In recent years, there have been several grassroot LGBT groups which have come together to form a bigger movement under the name Coalition Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia in Ghana. These groups operate underground.

There are a few LGBT groups in Ghana, most of whom operate secretly online. One such group is FOTHA-Ghana (Friends of the Heart Alliance – Ghana). Members of the group operate through the dark web. In September 2006, the BBC reported that the Ghanaian Government had banned an LGBT rights conference that was alleged to be taking place on September 4 at the Accra International Conference Centre, Minister of Information and National Orientation, Kwamena Bartels, said, “The government does not condone any such activity which violently offends the culture, morality and heritage of the entire people of Ghana.”

In March 2020, a historic conference was to be held in Accra. The Pan Africa ILGA was aiming to hold its first conference in West Africa to develop strategies to “improve” LGBT rights, increase awareness of LGBT issues, and to protect queer youth in Africa.

After Ghana faced backlash from religious organizations, President Nana Akufo-Addo banned the event, citing that it would be considered illegal for such an event to be held in Ghana, since they legally condemn and criminalize same-sex acts amongst adults.

Despite the laws in place, some LGBT groups, such as the Solace Initiative are providing LGBT citizens with human rights trained paralegals, so that when they face court, they can be aware of police violence or overreach of the law.

In 2013, lawyer John Ndebugri challenged views on the illegality of lesbianism under Ghanaian law. According to him, lesbianism, which is also homosexuality, does not involve penetration with a penis and therefore cannot be described as sexual intercourse or unnatural, based on section 104 of the Criminal Code. He added: “females don’t have [sic] penis. They cannot penetrate”.

On an international front, many external entities, such as the United Nations and other individual countries, speak in favor of LGBT rights.

Anti-activism

In October 2019, The World Congress of Families, a US-based anti-LGBT group, held a conference in Accra. On the agenda for their conference, they planned to push the necessity of conversion therapy in Africa.

Given that Ghana still has anti-gay laws in place, the police are legally mandated to go after LGBT citizens.

Sixty-four years after independence, we are still flip-flopping on our cultural identity. The time to assert our identity is long overdue.