In commemoration of IDAHOBIT 2022, All Out, together with partners in Ghana, has launched Voices of Ghana, an audio collection of powerful stories of survival and resistance from the LGBT+ community in Ghana.
By Fatima B. Derby
Ghana, May 17, 2021 – The International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) is observed every year on May 17 to show support for LGBT+ communities across the world, especially those in countries where their existence is criminalized. Homosexuality is still a crime in over 30 African countries, and is punishable by death in Mauritania, Nigeria, Somalia, and South Sudan. In many of these countries, anti-LGBT+ laws are a colonial legacy which continue to be upheld by the governments of these countries.
Today, All Out launched Voices of Ghana, an audio collection of powerful stories of survival and resistance from the LGBT+ community in Ghana. The stories are told in 4 episodes namely ‘Coming Out’, ‘The Anti-LGBT Bill’, ‘Disrupting Homophobia’ and ‘Visions of Hope’. Voices of Ghana is not just about resistance and survival, it is also about love and hope. The stories are a manifestation of our shared humanity and a compelling reminder that love is liberation.
Voices of Ghana is necessary in recent times where many countries across the world are rolling back on the rights and freedoms of LGBT people. For example, in May 2021, 21 human rights activists in Ghana were unlawfully arrested for “advocating LGBTQ activities” and were kept in detention for about 3 weeks before their eventual release. A few months later, 8 members of parliament in Ghana brought forward a bill to criminalize the country’s LGBT+ community and its allies. The proposed Bill recommends harsh prison sentences for LGBT+ Ghanaians and allies.
Although there is no law in Ghana currently that actually criminalizes being LGBT+, same-sex conduct is criminalized under a penal code instituted by the British colonial government. Till today, the violent impact of this colonial law continues to be acutely felt by people who are, or are perceived to be LGBT+ in Ghana. Queer and trans* Ghanaians are stigmatized by their communities and experience discrimination and violence in both private and public spaces.
LGBT+ activists and allies in Ghana continue to oppose the Bill and are fighting to prevent its passage into law. To support this vital work, All Out and partners in Ghana, started a petition to the Constitution and Legal Affairs Committee, and the President of Ghana, to reject and dismiss the Bill. Together with partners in Ghana, All Out asked LGBT+ Ghanaians about their lives in Ghana, the things that they find meaningful, and how their lives will change if the anti-LGBT Bill is passed.
Today on International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT), All Out hopes to use Voices of Ghana to amplify the powerful voices of LGBT+ Ghanaians and to raise global awareness about their experiences.
In a statement to the media, Linda Njiru, All Out Campaigns Manager, Africa said, “Stories are a powerful tool for creating connections. The stories will show the human side of the LGBT+ community in Ghana, and combined with the existing petition, will hopefully bring global awareness to what is happening in Ghana, support for the cause of LGBT+ activists in Ghana and the community.”
Speaking on the importance of storytelling as a tool for activists, David Larbi, a (Ghanaian activist) said, “Being silent about your issues is just like death to life. It is important we put our voices behind the activism we do. As a community we have to create, direct, own and control the narrative ourselves by telling our stories.”
While the fight to disrupt and end homophobia in Ghana rages on, LGBT+ Ghanaians continue to defy oppressive state and religious institutions by existing unapologetically and speaking out boldly against injustice.
Listen to the Voices of Ghana and help to amplify their voices by sharing the stories with others around the world.