LGBT Ghanaians await court ruling on restrictive new law


ACCRA: Member of GhanaThe LGBT community and activists are waiting to see whether the West African country's president will sign a bill that would further restrict their rights and the situation is likely to worsen. Harassment Many faces.
Kwame, a gay man who spoke to Reuters on the condition that his real name not be used, already bears the scars of Ghana's widespread intolerance. homosexuality,
“I was born with two eyes, but this is what I have now,” said the 30-year-old, taking off his large glasses to reveal one eye, which he said neighbors have picked on over his sexuality in 2021 Was attacked, due to which it was damaged.
“Imagine if the bill becomes law, the fear of this action will embolden those who feel they can target LGBT people with impunity,” he said, “empowering people to be killers.” Making it.”
Parliament passed the bill unanimously in February, but President Nana Akufo-Addo He has delayed signing it with his office citing two pending challenges in the Supreme Court.
On Thursday the High Court in Accra will rule on a lawmaker's petition seeking to force Akufo-Addo to act on the law within seven days.
There is already a prison sentence of up to three years for gay sex, but the new law will also introduce a prison sentence of up to five years for promoting or supporting LGBT rights, making it the harshest law of its kind in Africa. Will give.
Kwame and his partner, who are separated for security reasons, believe their best option would be to leave Ghana before law enforcement arrives, but they do not have enough money to escape.
Kwame's partner Suleiman described the pressure of hiding his sexuality and his love from families and friends, saying, “It's a mental struggle but I rely on myself to be strong.”
'it's scary'
Homophobia is rampant in culturally conservative Ghana. There are challenges finding jobs or housing and those who openly identify as LGBT are ostracized. Hostilities and attacks are common, although few such incidents reach the courts.
Human Rights Watch warned in March that the new law “could lead to more unprovoked violence against LGBT people and their allies,” urging Akufo-Addo to veto it.
His reluctance to sign has also led to political controversy.
On 20 March, parliamentary speaker Alban Bagbin told MPs that the president's delay was unconstitutional and suggested that Parliament should stop approving new ministerial appointments in protest.
The uncertainty over what happens next is weighing heavily on those who are concerned about the law's broader social impact.
“It's scary,” said Emmanuel Owusu-Bonsu, an LGBT rights activist who does not identify as part of the community.
“It's like everyone in Ghana is going to be given a gun and they can point it at you and say gay, lesbian or whatever and get away with it.”

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