Ghanaian LGBT+ activists ‘arbitrarily’ arrested and held for three weeks finally granted release on bail

The national flag of Ghana, where being LGBT+ is heavily criminalised.

A Ghanaian court has granted bail to 21 LGBT+ rights activist arrested nearly three weeks ago.

After repeatedly denying their requests, judges at the Ho High Court left the 21 activists as relieved as they were stunned by granting their fourth application for bail on Friday (11 June).

The “Ho 21” had been in police custody for 22 days, said Rightify Ghana, a human rights organisation, on Twitter.

In a high-profile police bust that has drawn international condemnation, the 21 Ghanaians were detained while attending an LGBT+ rights training session on 20 May.

The group had been discussing how to document and report the human rights violations being experienced by queer Ghanaians.

Activists claimed that a group of journalists had stormed the meeting, detaining attendees until police arrived.

Local law enforcement charged the 16 women and five men with attending an illegal gathering.

Both advocates and the UN have said the detention violates international human rights laws.

“All evidence available to us points to the fact that they were detained while they were peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association,” UN experts said.

They added: “The government of Ghana must release them immediately and unconditionally.”

The group is scheduled for a court hearing on 16 June.

But for now, activists took to Twitter to express their relief.

“This is good news,” wrote Pan Africa ILGA, a regional chapter of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association.

“But the struggle to demand for their justice continues. With that, we join our community in Ghana to demand justice for the Ho 21.”

The arrest came weeks after Ghanaian MPs launched a bid to outlaw advocacy for LGBT+ rights.