Metro Weekly

Ghana political leader calls LGBTQ people “worse than COVID-19”

Ghana's speaker of parliament slammed LGBTQ people amid debate over criminalizing homosexuality

ghana, alban bagbin, lgbtq, covid
Alban Bagbin — U.S. Embassy photograph by Archibald Sackey and Courage Ahiati

Ghana’s speaker of parliament has caused outrage among activists after calling LGBTQ people “worse than COVID-19.”

Alban Bagbin, one of Ghana’s most powerful politicians, decried the “LGBT+ pandemic” and said it “must be fought by all of us” after lawmakers introduced a bill that would criminalize “promotion, advocacy, funding and act of homosexuality in all its forms,” 76 Crimes reports.

“I can tell you that it is more than COVID-19, and I am happy that our beloved country, Ghana, is together in this,” Bagbin said.

“The President has spoken, our traditional leaders have spoken, our religious leaders have spoken together, and Ghanaians have spoken with one voice, and we don’t want to do anything that has to do with LGBTQ activities.”

Bagbin said he would “always do what is right because good will always triumph over evil.”

Activists slammed his comments as “unfair” and “insensitive,” and urged him to apologize to LGBTQ Ghanaians.

“His statement lacks sympathy for those who have lost families and friends through COVID,” human rights organization Rightify Ghana told PinkNews.

Bagbin’s comments displayed “a lack of empathy to the LGBT+ community in Ghana, who have for decades been targeted for violence, discrimination and injustices,” they continued.

“Unlike COVID-19, [being] LGBT+ doesn’t harm or kill anyone and it doesn’t bring a country’s economy to its knees as Ghana’s economy struggles because of the pandemic.”

Earlier this year, 21 people attending a paralegal training session to learn how to document and report human rights violations against LGBTQ people were arrested by police for “unlawful assembly” and accused of promoting an LGBTQ agenda, in the latest crackdown on LGBTQ equality.

Rights groups decried the arrests as illegal, while Alex Kofi Donkor, the founder and director of LGBT+ Rights Ghana, told the Guardian that LGBTQ people are being increasingly targeted and abused.

“There is no law preventing advocates or LGBTQ+ people from existing or gathering,” Donkor said. “It’s a constitutional right.”

After police urged Ghanaians to contact them with information on LGBTQ activities, Donkor called it a “witch-hunt.”

“It is very, very disturbing — also for the fact that the police are now inciting the public against Ghanaians,” he said. “It’s already a vulnerable situation for LGBTQ+ people in Ghana.”

Last month, Human Rights Watch called on Ghana to drop charges against the 21 individuals, calling their arrest and detention a “stain on Ghana’s reputation.”

“Ghana should ensure that human rights defenders work in an enabling environment that is free of stigma, reprisals, or criminal prosecution as a result of their human rights protection activities, including defenders working on sexual orientation and gender identity issues,” Wendy Isaack, LGBT rights researcher at Human Rights Watch, said.

“The authorities should stop harassing human rights defenders for doing their work and should disavow efforts to advance legislation that would further entrench discrimination against LGBT people.”

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