Founder of raided Ghanaian LGBT+ group fears for his safety after police shut down office

Alex Kofi Donkor

The founder of an LGBT+ rights organisation in Ghana has said he fears for his safety after its offices were raided and shut down by police.

Alex Kofi Donkor set up the LGBT+ Rights Ghana office on 31 January, but national security forces stormed in and forcibly closed the premises on Wednesday (24 February).

He told Reuters that that he did not expect “such an uproar” when the organisation was set up in January.

“We expected some homophobic organisations would use the opportunity to exploit the situation and stoke tension against the community, but the anti-gay hateful reaction has been unprecedented,” he said.

Speaking to CNN, Donkor said he now fears for his safety.

“I just contacted our lawyers, there is an unsafe situation right now, and I need to go offline.”

LGBT+ people in Ghana have lost their ‘safe space’

LGBT+ Rights Ghana shared video footage of national security vehicles parked outside their offices on Twitter on Wednesday (24 February).

“A few days ago, traditional leaders threatened to burn down our office but the police did not help,” the organisation wrote on Twitter.

“At this moment, we no longer have access to our safe space and our safety is being threatened. We call on all human rights organisations, and allies, to speak out against these attacks and hate crimes we are being subjected to.”

Gay sex is illegal in Ghana, meaning any public show of support for LGBT+ rights can be met with violence and persecution.

The raid has been condemned by Amnesty International Ghana, local media outlets have reported. 

Frank Doyi, the director of Amnesty Ghana, accused police of breaking the law by shutting down the organisation’s offices.

“The circumstance under which the facility was invaded is what we consider to be a clear violation of the very laws that we all seek to uphold,” Doyi said.

He added: “The question we like to ask again is whether or not the individuals who were found in that particular facility were seen engaging in any act, if they were not then clearly it’s an issue of the security agencies engaging in an act that is not supported by our laws.

“When the rights of individuals are clearly violated, then that becomes a serious issue of concern.”

Asenso Gyambi, who owns the property, later admitted that he reported the organisation to police. He said he did not know when he rented the premises out that it would be used by an LGBT+ rights group.

LGBT+ Rights Ghana is still active on social media. The organisation shared photos of the police raid on their office on Facebook and urged queer people in the country to “stay calm”.

“While this unfortunate incident has happened, we wish to encourage all our members, and queer Ghanians, to stay calm. Do not panic,” the group wrote.

“We anticipated this. We will triumph. The police may have raided our office, and closed it down but the real office is in our hearts, and minds.”