The Young Feminist Collective stands in solidarity with the Ghanaian LGBTQIA+ community and LGBT+ Rights Ghana in particular. In the face of the recent escalation in violence targeted at the community, we find it necessary to reiterate our unequivocal, unconditional support for queer Ghanaians everywhere. We ground our political stance in an intersectional framework with the aim of dismantling all forms of oppression in Ghana. As feminists, we believe that the constructions of gender and sexuality are inextricably linked in a patriarchal world. Let us be clear: queerphobia is a Ghanaian feminist issue. We are not interested in a feminism that does not address the needs and concerns of the most marginalised members of society. The current backlash from political leaders, religious authorities and traditional chiefs fuels a hostile environment for LGBTQIA+ people, including threats of violence, forced evictions, employment terminations and isolation from family members. As Ghanaians, we believe our highest shared values include the dignity and respect of all human beings, irrespective of their identities or one’s personal feelings. The full humanity of LGBTQIA+ people is non-negotiable.
There has been blatant misinformation circulating in the media, on Whatsapp and from public figures about who LGBTQIA+ people are. We are compelled to directly challenge this and provide accurate information instead. Queer, trans* and intersex people exist across a wide spectrum of gender identities and expressions, sexual orientations and biological characteristics. They have friendships, they take care of their elders and they raise children. Some fall in love with people of the same or different gender. Others experience no romantic or sexual attraction at all. These diverse experiences of sexuality and gender are inherent, not chosen; they have always existed and been accepted and celebrated by various African cultures. It is therefore insulting and dishonest to reduce people in the LGBTQIA+ community to sexual intercourse. Queer people may complicate your understanding of gender and relationships, but it is this limited understanding that feminists work hard to challenge every day.
We want to remind the general public that the Constitution of Ghana guarantees fundamental human rights to all, regardless of race, place of origin, political opinion, colour, religion, creed or gender (Article 12). Clearly, simply by virtue of their existence, queer people have full access to the rights enshrined in the Constitution which accommodate and protect EVERY Ghanaian. We are appalled that the entitlement of all Ghanaian citizens to the freedom of assembly and association is being contested, on the basis of difference. Act 29, under Section 104 of the Criminal Code of Ghana, often used as a cudgel against LGBTQIA+ advocacy, does not associate queerness with criminality. It speaks to specific sexual behaviours and not orientation or identity. The law makes no reference to and has no bearing on queerness.
As a collective we cannot afford to be silent as members of our community are attacked violently online and offline. In our opinion, it is irresponsible for government officials to turn a blind eye to the hate their words and actions have instigated. President Akufo-Addo, in the face of direct attacks on the queer community from your own ministers designate, your silence can only be read as approval. To be silent in the face of the pain that queer Ghanaians are suffering is to be complicit in it. The Government should condemn any and all violence perpetrated against the LGBTQIA+ community in Ghana. Education and advocacy about the rights of LGBTQIA+ people should be championed by the government. We cannot cling to outdated hate that exists in our society as a vestige of violent colonial institutions. It is hate that is from the West, not queerness. Numerous organisations, including LGBT+ Rights Ghana continue to do the important work of dispelling misconceptions about queerness, and promoting acceptance and tolerance for all. Ghana does not belong to any one tribe, religion or sexual orientation. As we continue to press for a more equitable, peaceful nation, we should do so with open hearts and open minds. We call on all Ghanaians to work towards achieving freedom and justice for all.