Violent homophobic thugs held Ghanaian LGBTQ+ activist hostage: ‘Annoy us and we’ll kill you’

People hold up an LGBTQ+ Pride flag

A leading LGBTQ+ activist in Ghana was “held hostage by seven homophobic men” who brutally beat him until a ransom was paid.

Rightify Ghana, one of the West African nation’s most vocal LGBTQ+ groups, claimed its executive director was ambushed 20 August in the Ashanti region.

He had been investigating an alleged case of abuse against a queer person at around 11:20am that turned out to be a “trap” organised by a “notorious violent and organised anti-gay group”, Rightfiy Ghana tweeted Saturday (27 August).

“If you annoy us, we will kill you and bury you here and no one would know,” one of the men told the director at knifepoint. The men knew that he was an LGBTQ+ activist and aggressively interrogated him.

While Rightify Ghana did not mention the name of the group, it said its members revealed how they carry out a highly-organised campaign of violence against LGBTQ+ Ghanaians.

Their “primary target”, the director was told, is “the LGBTQ+ community and the general public”.

“They also shared how other groups target queer men in alleged murder for money ritual,” Rightly Ghana added.

Rightify Ghana confirmed to PinkNews that its director has since been released after a ransom of an undisclosed amount was paid to the assailants. He is now recovering but remains shaken by the incident.

The group is now working with the Ghana Police Service. If the men are arrested and charged, it could represent a turning point in the handling of crimes against LGBTQ+ people in Ghana considering the force’s history of arbitrarily arresting LGBTQ+ people.

Ghana has a disturbing history of brutality against LGBTQ+ people, Rightify Ghana told PinkNews. Anti-LGBTQ+ people are being increasingly empowered by politicians stirring up hatred towards the community, leading to a surge in hate crime.

In 2021, lawmakers introduced a bill that would punish displays of same-sex affection and advocacy of LGBTQ+ rights with up to a decade in prison.

The legislation casts a wide-ranging net for possible convictions, with gender-affirming healthcare and buying sex toys also punishable under the proposal. A simple pro-LGBTQ+ tweet, for example, could lead to jail time.

Same-sex relations have been illegal in Ghana since the 1960s, yet backers of the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill 2021 want LGBTQ+ people stamped out even further. Some have called on lawmakers to introduce state-sanctioned conversion therapy as part of the legislation.

“It is clear that Ghana is not safe for LGBTQI+ people but this targeted attack against our executive director is an attempt to silence activists and human rights defenders who have been resilient in Ghana,” Rightify Ghana said.

So it’s no wonder the director’s kidnappers gloated about taking part in violence, Rightfy Ghana said.

“What was not surprising is the fact that violent groups who attack LGBTQI people will more likely attack other groups as well. While being held, information he gathered suggests that the group engages in other crimes that target the general population,” the statement continued.

“We want all Ghanaian government and all citizens to speak against violence against ANY group of persons including LGBTQI people because the insecurity of any individual or group of people can have a negative impact on our collective public safety and security.”