Regarding the March 18 incident, a leading activist in Ghana said “the pressure on President Mahama was uncalled for. We, the LGBTI communities of Ghana, never asked for it and the Ghanaian government does not merit it, as it has relatively been supportive.”
Mac-Darling Cobbinah, founder and director of the Centre for Popular Education and Human Rights Ghana (CEPEHRG), added, “Far from helping the LGBTI communities in Ghana, this incident has generated exactly what we are hoping to avoid. What it has done is to generate an anti-LGBTI moral hysteria and backlash with allegations that a ‘homosexual lobby’” is trying to impose its values on Ghana.
KaleidoScot reported (referring to the Scottish government by its location in the Holyrood section of Edinburgh):
Holyrood’s intervention regarding LGBTI rights backfires in Ghana
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon raised on Friday LGBTI rights to the President of Ghana during his visit to Holyrood.
The intervention, uncalled for by LGBTI Ghanaians, has caused a backlash against the LGBTI community and a media moral panic against a “homosexual lobby” trying to allegedly tarnish Ghana’s image and force “unAfrican” habits unto the nation.
The Ghanaian leader, John Dramani Mahama, met the First Minister during his tour of Scotland, which saw him presented with an honorary degree from the University of Aberdeen.
Ms Sturgeon has come under some pressure to raise issues of LGBTI rights with Ghana’s leader, John Dramani Mahama as his visit to Scotland comes against a backdrop of increasing vigilante violence against LGBTI people in Ghana. The KaleidoScot Trust, Amnesty International and, in particular, Patrick Harvie, co-convener of the Scottish Green Party, called for the First Minister to confront Mahama about LGBTI rights. It has also been reported that opposite leaders of the Scottish parliament have boycotted a meeting with the president.
Far from helping matters, this has resulted in a fury of negative reporting on a “homosexual lobby” trying to force “unAfrican” habits onto Ghana, thus further fuelling anti-LGBTI prejudice and hysteria rather than combat it,
It has also resulted with mounting pressure of Ghana’s Socialist government, which has been relatively supportive of LGBTI rights and Human Rights in general, to distance itself from LGBTI issues and “stand up for Ghana”; with accusations that the president has been too weak in resisting “colonialist” pressure or him being “insulted” by Scotland.
Speaking with KaleidoScot, Mac-Darling Cobbinah, founder and director of Centre for Popular Education and Human Rights Ghana (CEPEHRG), said: “I must stress my disappointment that no one contacted LGBTI activists in Ghana, either politicians in Scotland or journalists, to find out what the communities here needs. While we welcome raising the issue with the president, it could have focused on concrete steps that LGBTI Ghanaians can be helped rather than a critical media focus on Ghana and its government.”
This is despite the fact that KaleidoScot supplied to Patrick Harvie [co-convener of the Scottish Green Party] and the First Minister the contact details of LGBTI Ghanaian activists.
Mac-Darling added: “Far from helping the LGBTI communities in Ghana this incident has generated exactly what we are hoping to avoid. What it has done is to generate an anti LGBTI moral hysteria and backlash with allegations that a ‘homosexual lobby’” is trying to impose its values on Ghana.
“Not only this strengthens the hands prejudice in Ghana but actually puts pressure on the government to act against our communities during an election year which might see the socialist president kicked out of office, with him being ‘too soft’ on gays as on of the ammunition levelled against him.
“I also want to stress that the pressure on president Mahama was uncalled for. We, the LGBTI communities of Ghana, never asked for it and the Ghanian government does not merit it, as it has relatively been supportive”, said Mac-Darling.
Asked what Scotland and the West in particular can do to help, he answered: “Our priorities really are about diversity education so people see LGBTI people as part of our culture and society. Workshops with the police, teachers and health workers are essential to combat widespread prejudice. This is one area that organisations and governments from the west, including Scotland, can help with resources and experience.
“In addition, religious leaders, especially of evangelical groups, are promoting anti LGBTI hate within the society as well as in the media. These groups sometimes receive help from their affiliated organisations in the West, principally from the USA and Europe. These leaders put pressure on the government to take actions against Ghana’s LGBTI communities and pass further discriminatory laws. When Ghana’s Constitution Review Commission recommended in 2012 to legalise same-sex acts, these leaders caused such a moral panic and uproar that the attempt to do away with this law were abandoned. …
““This climate of hate against LGBTI encouraged by religious leaders and some aligned politicians is basically causing moral hysteria and affect us in various ways. …
“Our President has not only ignored these pressures but has even appointed human rights lawyer, Nana Oye Lithur, who has publicly advocated for LGBTI rights, as the Minister of Gender, Children, and Social Protection. Her appointment sparked a lot of controversy in the media and religious leaders mounted a campaign to have her fired.”
The outcome of such a hate campaign has encouraged and incited the vigilante violence against LGBTI people in Ghana: “As a result of such anti LGBTI hate and activities by religious leaders’ incitement against the LGBTI communities has escalated. Not only LGBTI rights advocates like me and others have been attacked but many who are identified as LGBTI have faced violence. Many young people get abused, bullied and forced to leave school because of their perceived sexuality and gender identity.” …
Maurice Tomlinson, a Jamaican LGBTI rights campaigner who has worked closely with grassroots African activists, told KaleidoScot:
“I appreciate that allies in the Global North are anxious to help with the LGBTI liberation movements in the global south. As such, I would hope that they would engage with us before rushing in as that can often things worse. What we have found works with our political leaders is positive provocation.
“So, leaders from the Global North can adopt what I have come to call the A.R.E. approach:
“First ACKNOWLEDGE that the Global North has struggled and continues to struggle with homophobia and also that much of the anti-LGBTI animus originated in and is sometimes being supported by Global North players. Therefore, some humility would help to foster understanding.
“Second, RESPECT our elected leaders. The may be bastards but they are OUR bastards. Respecting their office and positions respects our democratic process. Also, respect and celebrate the work of local civil society groups and individuals that are engaged in the liberation struggle.
“Third, ENGAGE as EQUALS with our local politicians by suggesting practical ways that we can collectively reap the benefits of inclusion. Sell those positives (e.g., better healthcare for all, less brain drain, improved productivity when people bring their WHOLE selves to work, etc.). Some of these engagements will require financial resources so clean up the toxic export of homophobia from the global north laws, etc.”
For more information, read the full article in KaleidoScot: “Holyrood’s intervention regarding LGBTI rights backfires in Ghana.”
- Dummies!…Scottish MPs Action Disgraceful; Mahama Can’t Be Coerced To Accept LGBTs! (March 18, 2016, PeaceFMonline)
- Akwaaba! (Welcome!), says Ghana — but not if you’re gay (Feb. 5, 2016, 76crimes.com)
- HIV in Ghana: Progress toward protecting vulnerable gays (October 2015, 76crimes.com)
- Ghana arrests reputed leader of violent anti-gay gang (September 2015, 76crimes.com)
- Ghana student faces anti-gay threats, so police arrest him (August 2014, 76crimes.com)
- Ghana president: Anti-gay anger blocks even talk of change (October 2013, 76crimes.com)