Julia Selman Ayetey, lawyer for the twenty-one individuals, who the place detained by police and accused of illegal meeting and selling an LGBTQ agenda, speaks to journalists on the Ho Circuit Court docket in Ho, Volta Area, Ghana June 4, 2021. REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko
June 4, 2021
HO, Ghana (Reuters) – A Ghanaian court docket on Friday delayed its ruling on a bail software for 21 Lesbian Homosexual Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT+) activists detained two weeks in the past for an allegedly illegal gathering, which rights group deny.
The delay will imply the group should spend a minimum of 4 extra days in detention.
LGBT+ individuals face widespread persecution within the West African nation the place homosexual intercourse is punishable with as much as three years imprisonment. Group members have reported a crackdown by authorities and elevated abuse by the general public in latest months.
The 16 ladies and 5 males had been arrested on Could 20 at a resort, police mentioned in an announcement, alleging the group had gathered illegally. It additionally mentioned the group was advocating LGBT+ actions with books and flyers with titles together with, “Popping out” and “All about Trans”.
Selling homosexual rights just isn’t unlawful in Ghana and LGBT+ Rights Ghana mentioned the arrests had been illegal. The organisation mentioned the activists had met for a workshop on the way to doc and report human rights violations.
“We can not condone a state of affairs the place individuals attend a workshop on rights solely to be arrested and have these very human rights they had been studying about be trampled upon,” mentioned Julia Selman Ayetey, a lawyer for the defendants.
A choose within the district court docket of Ho mentioned the court docket would contemplate the bail software fastidiously and that there could be a ruling on whether or not or to not grant bail on June 8.
Ghana has not prosecuted anybody for same-sex relations in years, however LGBT+ individuals face frequent abuse and discrimination, together with blackmail and assaults, human rights researchers say.
The latest crackdown started in February after LGBT+ Rights Ghana opened the nation’s first LGBT+ group centre. It was pressured to shut after three weeks after an uproar from church teams, politicians and anti-gay rights organisations.
Ghana’s President Nana Akufo Addo, who was reelected in December for one more five-year time period, vowed throughout a church ceremony in February that same-sex marriage won’t ever be legalised throughout his time in workplace.
The assertion stirred up homophobic sentiment and emboldened a gaggle of lawmakers who need to criminalise the promotion of LGBT+ rights within the nation, mentioned group members and activists.
“The arrest of the 21, identical to the closure of our workplace, are all deliberate actions by very highly effective forces to interrupt down the LGBT group,” mentioned Suhaidatu Dramani, programmes director for LGBT+ Rights Ghana.
(Reporting by Cephas Kwashie Ahiayibor and Christian Akorlie; Further reporting and writing by Nellie Peyton; Enhancing by Bate Felix and Raissa Kasolowsky)