Press release June 15, 2021
Ghana: Freedom House Condemns Arbitrary Arrest of LGBT+ Activists
The arrest and detention of the activists comes as anti-LGBT+ rhetoric rises in Ghana, with members of the community facing pervasive threats and abuse.
In response to the recent arbitrary arrest of LGBT+ activists, who were unlawfully detained by Ghanaian police, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“We are deeply concerned by the rise of anti-LGBT+ sentiment in Ghana,” said Mindy Michels, interim director of international programs at Freedom House. “We condemn the Ghanaian government’s discrimination and arbitrary arrest of LGBT+ human rights defenders. We call on the authorities to respect and protect the right to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and association.”
On May 20th, police arrested 21 LGBT+ activists in Ho, the capital of Volta Region, after raiding a training workshop on documenting human rights violations and supporting survivors. The activists were accused of unlawful assembly and of “advocating LGBTQI activities,” even though the promotion of LGBT+ rights is not illegal in the country. Rights groups criticized the arrests, noting the activists did not receive prompt access to legal representation. The 21 detainees were denied bail at least twice before they were released on June 11th, having spent 22 days in detention. The case is still pending before the Ho District Court.
Even before the raid, the Ghanaian LGBT+ community has been subjected to a sharp increase in anti-LGBT+ rhetoric. The January opening of a LGBT+ community center in Accra was met with calls for its closure and for the arrest of its organizers, while LGBT+ Ghanaians were subjected to threats and online abuse. The center’s founder temporarily closed it in late February, days after it was raided by police, citing risks to its visitors and staff members.
Ghana is rated Free in Freedom in the World 2021.
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