Fierce opposition from church groups has forced Ghana’s first LGBT+ community center to temporarily shut down its operations to protect its staff and visitors, its founder said on Tuesday.
Alex Kofi Donkor, director of LGBT+ Rights Ghana, posted a simple message on Twitter which reads: ‘Culture, Tradition & Religion can never justify the denial of human rights.’
“We expected some homophobic organizations would use the opportunity to exploit the situation and stoke tension against the community, but the anti-gay hateful reaction has been unprecedented,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Although Ghana has not prosecuted anyone for same-sex relations in years, LGBT+ people face widespread discrimination and abuse across Africa.
In Nigeria, gay-sex can be punishable by up to 14 years imprisonment, and in Ghana, the punishment is three years according to the constitution.
LGBT+ Rights Ghana offers paralegal services, counseling, and training through workshops, the office is supported by international donors and charities.
The National Coalition for Proper Sexual Rights and Family Values, which brings together Christian, Muslim and traditional leaders opposed to LGBT+ rights, is among those seeking to close down the centre, along with prominent church groups.
“The Church rejects the unfounded and demeaning assumption that the sexual behaviour of homosexual persons is always and totally compulsive and, therefore, they should not be blamed for their homosexual acts,” said the Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference.
“We call on the Government of Ghana to close down the LGBTQI office space that was recently opened in Accra (and) urge the Executive and the Legislature never to be cowed down or to succumb to the pressure to legalize the rights of LGBTQIs.”