A history-making LGBT+ rights conference in Ghana has been banned and, no, it’s not because of coronavirus

Ghana lgbt bill prison

A historic LGBT+ rights conference which was planned to be held in Ghana has been banned by the country’s government, and it’s not because of coronavirus.

The Pan Africa ILGA (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association) was set to hold its 2020 annual conference in Accra, Ghana, in July.

The conference aims to develop strategies to improve LGBT+ rights across Africa, protect queer youth and increase awareness of LGBT+ issues across the continent.

It would have been a history-making event, the organisation’s first conference to be held in West Africa.

But after an outcry from conservative religious groups in Ghana, the event has now been cancelled.

According to Human Rights Watch, LGBT+ people living in Ghana suffer discrimination and abuse in public and in private, and are still living under colonial-era law which prohibits gay sex.

One religious group started a petition against the conference, which was signed by 19,000 people in just one week, according to Reuters.

Another group, Advocates for Christ Ghana, wrote a letter to the country’s president Nana Akufo-Addo to condemn the event.

The group wrote: “The current laws of Ghana … criminalise consensual same-sex sexual activities between adults, therefore it is clearly illegal for ILGA to hold a conference here in Ghana representing a group that promotes these activities.”

A spokesperson for president Akufo-Addo confirmed to Reuters that the conference had now been banned, and a spokesperson for the Ghana ministry of gender, children and social protection said: “[The] Ghana government won’t allow such [a] conference and that is it.”

When asked why, they simply responded: “Not because of coronavirus.”

Last month, Ashanti regional chief Imam Sheihk Muumin Abdul Haroun vowed to stop the “demonic” conference.  

According to MyNewsGH, the Imam said in a radio interview: “Wallahi tallahi [I swear to God] we will not agree; we Muslims, Christians and the traditional religion will all rise up.

“We will not allow them to even step foot here and not even the government can stand in our way.

“The country does not belong to them; it belongs to us so we decide who does what here.”

He described homosexuality as an “evil that must not be countenanced in any way because it is despised by God”.