Homophobic doctors push conversion therapy at training workshop in Ghana

Doctors in Ghana promoted conversion therapy and dubbed homosexuality an “abnormality and a mental disorder” at a training workshop.

openDemocracy found high ranking doctors spread dangerous misinformation about LGBTQ+ people in Ghana at a two-day training workshop, held in the city Accra.

The workshop, purportedly on providing “treatment, care and support” for LGBTQ+ people, was aimed at nurses, psychologists, counsellors and midwives.

It was organised by the National Coalition for Proper Human Sexual Rights and Family Values (known as the Coalition), which proposed the draconian anti-LGBTQ+ Family Values Bill currently working its what through Ghana’s parliament.

If the Bill passes, it would become a crime to advocate for LGBT+ rights.

An attendee told openDemocracy it felt as though the true goal of the workshop was to “recruit members” to join the Coalition’s anti-LGBTQ+ cause.

Professor Afua A J Hesse, a lecturer in paediatric surgery at the University of Ghana’s medical school, gave a presentation on the “health impacts of LGBTQQA+ [sic] lifestyles” as “seen by paediatricians”.

Hesse’s presentation slides had graphic images of anal prolapse and cited the “LGBTQ+ lifestyle” as the cause. Hesse even claimed bestiality was a symptom of homosexuality.

“Homosexuality is a lifestyle that is at war against public health much like smoking, alcohol intake [and] environmental degradation,” said Hesse.

The workshop was run by an anti-LGBTQ+ group in Ghana. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Another speaker, Professor Akwasi Osei, chief executive of Ghana’s Mental Health Authority, championed conversion therapy as a means to return LGBTQ+ people to ‘normal’.

Osei called homosexuality an “abnormality and a mental disorder” and described anal sex as “disobedience to what God has said”. He doubled down and said to ‘fix’ homosexuality, “socialisation” was a necessity.

While the workshop was rife with homophobia, Sammy Ohene, a lecturer of psychiatry at the University of Ghana’s medical school, expressed that the opinions of those who led the workshops were personal and not reflective of Ghana’s medical institutions.

“I think their views are mostly personal and do not represent the official position of mental health personnel in Ghana,” he said.

LGBTQ+ people in Ghana face discrimination and persecution from officials, including politicians and police. – so much so that LGBTQ+ organisations are suing the government for human rights violations.

Conversion therapy continues to be a contentious topic across the world and many countries have made moves to ban the practice completely. Brazil, Samoa and Taiwan are a few countries that have prohibited conversion therapy.


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