In pictures: Ghana ‘bar raid’ against LGBTQ community

Image copyright EPA Image caption Members of Ghana’s LGBTQ community hold banners in their protest As part of an crackdown in Ghana on the LGBTQ community, police, security and intelligence agencies have raided nine…

In pictures: Ghana 'bar raid' against LGBTQ community

Image copyright EPA Image caption Members of Ghana’s LGBTQ community hold banners in their protest

As part of an crackdown in Ghana on the LGBTQ community, police, security and intelligence agencies have raided nine bars and detained close to a hundred people.

Government leaders, particularly members of Ghana’s Christian churches, have long voiced concern over the lives of the community.

But this week’s clampdown on bars followed protests by the community in Upper West and Upper East regions.

The crackdown was spearheaded by an American group with connections to the far-right.

Body found

During the demonstrations against their jailing and homes being raided, Ghanaian LGBTQ community members removed sheets from their homes which were later used to make hammocks.

‘Body found’ one of the chants heard when they chanted. A day later, many could not account for their missing children, spouses or families.

Most of the 250+ protestors who marched through churches and gathering points in the northern city of Kumasi were male, and men shared their grievances with police.

Government leaders, particularly members of Ghana’s Christian churches, have long voiced concern over the lives of the community.

According to the newly-minted Ghana Equality Index (www.goo.gl/k2FSt4), on 5 November 2010, Nigeria was by far the worst place for LGBTQ people, with Iran taking the number two spot.

Ghana, as well as South Africa, placed at the top of the equality index.

The Equality Index suggests that a society is ‘gender equal’ when three quarters of its citizens are of the same gender; when only 10% are of any other gender, and when those of the opposite gender account for more than 10% of the population.

In a joint statement, the non-governmental organisation Human Rights Watch said in a report published in 2014, that law enforcement authorities were using questionable tactics, such as sexual intimacy bans and underage arrests, to target LGBTQ people, especially those who are involved in sex work.

The report said security forces conducted mass arrests, locking up LGBTQ people in tent-like cottages where in many cases, they were severely beaten or raped.

“Violence and abuse against LGBTQ people is intensifying, including in some of Ghana’s major cities and towns, resulting in increased vulnerability to trafficking for forced labour or sexual exploitation,” the report said.

‘Attack on [the LGBTQ community] and for gay people in the country’

Ibrahima William, an Amnesty International Ghana representative told the BBC that “fundamental rights are being infringed”.

“If you look at the number of people arrested – these are just the people who have been affected – they have all been from that LGBTQ community and for gay people in the country, especially in the north.

“It is an attack on them and for gay people in the country.”

Ahad Leachim – a journalist in Ghana – says although police say they are simply detaining those they claim are involved in homosexuality, the scale of the crackdown indicates otherwise.

“This is not just crackdown; it is law enforcement going beyond the law to catch the people they say are against it, and that seems to be what this arrest is all about.”

Ghana’s Muslim leaders, who have made similar statements against the LGBTQ community, have tried to condemn the dragnet.

Image copyright AP Image caption Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo has spoken about civil rights for the LGBTQ community

Image copyright REUTERS Image caption Parliament in Ghana’s parliament in January heard a debate on the situation in the country’s LGBTQ community

However, Mohammed Imam, the general secretary of the Muslim Ummah of Great Lakes, told the BBC that “people should not bring sexuality into discussions in Nigeria, Nigeria cannot determine the history of humans in all the parts of the world”.

Mr Mohamed said the Muslim Ummah views same-sex activity as a “violation of Allah’s laws”, but said there should be respect for private lives and called for people to unite against “strange lifestyles”, and “moral decay”.

Civil rights groups have criticised the raids, but say they will continue to campaign for the free and equal treatment of LGBTQ people.

“This kind of unlawful crackdown is a violation of the rights of our members to their private lives,” Ahad Leachim, said.

“It should stop immediately, when we see the leaders of the different religious bodies denouncing it and calling for the release of those arrested.”

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