In this current world, at least everyone has seen same sex couples either live or on TV. In the west, it is generally accepted and people are able to even do an official wedding with their same sex partners. In Africa however, this is a matter that is generally frowned upon. Many Africans go to church and are religious individuals. It is therefore no wonder that eighty seven percent of Ghanaians are against public meetings of lesbian and gay individuals. Is there hope for legalization of LGBT Ghana? It may be plausible but it may take a while.
If you are wondering if Ghana lesbians can marry, the short answer is no. This is due to a variety of reasons the top being the legal ramifications if you do. In this article, you will be able to have an overview of the current overall situation in terms of Ghana LGBT rights as well as Ghana LGBT laws.
Human rights laws Section 12(2) of Chapter 5 of Ghana’s constitution states that “Every person in Ghana, whatever his race, place of origin, political opinion, color, religion, creed or gender shall be entitled to the fundamental human rights and freedoms of the individual contained in this Chapter but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest."
This may be the law for all individuals in Ghana but when it comes to gay individuals, it may not always apply. As a matter of fact, due to the deep beliefs and traditions of the Ghanaian people, it is hard for most Ghanaian citizens to socially accept gay individuals.
According to the Ghanaian criminal law, it is illegal for one to partake in gay activities and it is punishable by law for individuals to take part is such activities. If one is caught partaking in such, they earn themselves a minimum of three years imprisonment.
History of homosexuality in Ghana
One question that people possibly ask themselves is before there were set laws prohibiting LGBT Ghana, was it legal? Many also wonder when the first cases of homosexual activity was first reported in Ghana. Apparently, in the 18th and 19th century, the Asante Kingdom that is actually current day Ghana had male slaves who served as concubines.
This might go as proof of some form of homosexual behavior in pre-colonial Ghana within the African kingdoms. However this does not mean that this is acceptable to traditionalists. The general view of most Africans statistically remains the same. Homosexuality is not yet accepted and the church plays a big role in keeping these beliefs that way.
Laws on homosexuality in Ghana
Knowing that it is a criminal act to partake in homosexual activity in Ghana does not give the full view of of what the criminal code says. Below we will give a quote of chapter 6 of the criminal code of 1960 as amended by the criminal code act, 2003 amendment.
Section 104. Unnatural Carnal Knowledge.
(1) Whoever has unnatural carnal knowledge
(a) of any person of the age of sixteen years or over without his consent shall be guilty of a first degree felony and shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of not less than five years and not more than twenty-five years; or
(b) of any person of sixteen years or over with his consent is guilty of a misdemeanor; or
(c) of any animal is guilty of a misdemeanor.
(2) Unnatural carnal knowledge is sexual intercourse with a person in an unnatural manner or with an animal.
To clarify their standing on the Ghana antigay laws, section 99 says that the proof of unnatural carnal knowledge is the event of the least degree of penetration. Misdemeanors are generally punishable by not less than three years of imprisonment.
These laws were however challenged in the year 2017 by a well acclaimed lawyer known as John Ndebugri who claimed that the law is biased. This is because when it comes to women, lesbian acts do not involve penile penetration and it cannot be deemed unnatural based on section 101 of the criminal code.
The state however does not concern itself with such matters as it claims this is in the private life of these individuals. This has caused a lot of concern from gay rights activists in Ghana and they have accused the law as being hypocritical.
READ ALSO: Gays and lesbians in Ghana thank Nana Addo for "gay assurances" on Aljazeera
The Africa Centre for International Law and Accountability (ACILA) took on a study in the month of June 2017. This was to decipher what Ghanaians’ attitudes towards LGBTI issues were. This was in order to help protect the rights of gay individuals in Ghana.
In their study they found that 87% of Christians and 73.1% of Muslims in Ghana were against LGBTI persons holding public meetings to discuss LGBTI issues. 33.3% of atheists were against the same. In terms of regions, Volta Region had the highest approval of the same but at only a measly 19.4%.
Cases of mob justice against gay individuals in Ghana have been reported before. The ACILA statistics show that 97% of Ghanaians believe in the responsibility of police to protect people against MOB justice. They also found that 94% of Ghanaians believe people caught in acts of mob justice should be brought to justice.
In contrast however, only 20% “strongly disagree” or “disagree” that the police have a responsibility to protect LGBTI people against the same. Also the statistics reported 80% of Ghanaians are very uncomfortable associating themselves with LGBTIs.
50%, 40% 30% of traditionalists, Muslims and Christians respectively will not receive emergency medical treatment from a nurse or doctor they perceive as LGBTI. It further showed that about 13% of Ghanaians will physically or verbally abuse a person who identifies as LGBTI and or try to force them to hide or change that fact.
These were some of the findings that ACILA was able to bring to the table. The overall fact is that like in several African countries, lesbian and gay individuals are still not very widely accepted. Around 54% of people promoted that in the event of students in school is perceived to be gay, they should be expelled. This shows the general perception of homosexuality Ghana.
Ghana appeared before the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on 7th November of 2017. This was for a request to review of their human rights records under the Universal Periodic Review mechanism. Ghana however rejected legalization of marriage between same sex individuals and also to decriminalize consensual relations.
READ ALSO: Opinion: Ghanaian adulterers want homosexuals dead
However, they agreed to amend the law to protect LGBTI individuals against acts of violence. They also agreed to ensure individuals who identify as gay have equal right to access rehabilitation and remedy and anyone who is violent towards them is punishable by law.
That is currently where Ghana stands on gay individuals rights. It is still criminal but that doent allow anyone to be violent against them. They too are protected by the law in accordance with global human rights.