The Human Rights Watch (HRW) has blamed the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 for the abuses and discrimination against homosexuals in Ghana.
Speaking to Emefa Apawu on Joy FM’s Newsnite Monday, the HRW for Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Rights Programme Director, Graeme Reid said the law contributes to a climate of human rights abuses in the country.
The Criminal Offences Act also makes it difficult for LGBT people to report cases of discrimination and abuses to the police making them second-class Ghanaians, he added.
HRW LGBT Rights Programme Director, Graeme Reid
He was reacting to a 72-paged report released by the New York-based organization after an interview with 114 people on the LGBT situation in Ghana.
Download full report here: Ghana: Discrimination, Violence against LGBT People
The report catalogued several cases of abuse and discrimination against LGBT Ghanaians, which it described as “widespread.”
A 30-year-old woman identified as Pearl narrated how she was nearly torched by some residents in Kumasi.
“They took me outside, dragging me and beating me at the same time. A boy put a car tire around my neck and poured petrol over my body, ready to burn me,” she reportedly told the HRW.
Her story is one of the grim revelations in the report titled “No choice but to Deny Who I Am’: Violence and Discrimination against LGBT People in Ghana.”
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo
Although some legal experts claimed the practice of same-sex relationship has not been defined as a criminal act, they said the Criminal Offences Act has dealt with one homosexual act which is the unnatural carnal knowledge.
Section 104(1)(b) of the Act states: “Whoever has an unnatural carnal knowledge of any person of sixteen years or over with his consent is guilty of a misdemeanor.”
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo told Qatar-based Aljazeera last year Ghana could change its laws banning homosexuality if there is enough public pressure.
Making a case for the repeal of the law, Graeme Reid said the “wording carnal knowledge” is a colonial legacy that has no place in modern Ghana.
“What we are saying is that the people need to feel safe [but] the law makes them feel that they are criminals [so] it will be good for the law to go,” he said.
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