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West Hollywood News

Ghana Minister's Anti-LGBT Words Condemned
Posted by Daniel Antolin on Aug 16, 2011 - 6:53:56 PM

West Hollywood City Hall. Photo by Kibiwot Limo
WEST HOLLYWOOD—On Monday, August 15, the West Hollywood City Council voted unanimously to condemn the remarks of the minister of Ghana's Western Region, who in July called for suspected LGBT individuals to be rounded up, arrested and tried in court if possible.

West Hollywood Resolution No. 110NNN states that it condemns Minister Paul Evans Aidoo for asking the Bureau of National Investigations and the West African nation's other security agencies to arrest individuals of the aforementioned sexual orientations. The resolution also condemns Aidoo for calling on landlords to come forward if they believe any of their tenants are LGBT. Tenants were also asked to turn in suspected LGBT neighbors.

Whether anyone identified as LGBT in Ghana can be tried on the basis of sexual orientation is unclear.

As mentioned in the West Hollywood resolution, homosexuality is considered illegal in Ghana, though it is not specifically mentioned in Criminal Code 1960 - Chapter 6, Sexual Offences Article 105, which refers to "unnatural carnal knowledge."

Using this interpretation of the law, the Ghanaian government banned a September 2006 LGBT rights conference that was rumored to take place at the Accra International Centre in Accra.

And the country's constitution does not include sexuality in its definition of human rights that the documents states are protected.

According to the resolution introduced by council member John Heilman, Aidoo's comments are believed to be in response to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in May releasing statistics relating that 8,000 out of one million Western and Center region residents identified themselves as "homosexual."

The data was interpreted by LGBT equality opponents as a significant jump from the 2,900 homosexual individuals identified in 2008. But the 8,000 individuals represent 2.5 percent of the population and comprise less than the national average of 2.9 percent Ghana citizens who have HIV/AIDS.

USAID released the data at a workshop to encourage health workers not to discriminate against homosexual individuals so as to help in efforts to abate the spread of HIV/AIDs. But news reports relating the numbers resulted in protests by Muslim and Christian groups. The Christian Council of Ghana campaigned against politicians who supported LGBT equality in the following months.

Aidoo has said, "All efforts are being made to get rid of these people in society." In an op-ed for the Ghana Broadcasting Company, Reverend Stephen Wengam wrote, "If homosexuality is tolerated, very soon the human race will be extinct." Wengam is an influential religious leader in the region.

"These comments are seen as part of a troubling trend of anti-LGBT comments made by other political and spiritual leaders in Ghana," the West Hollywood resolution states.

In June, Ghana was one of 19 countries that voted against a resolution sponsored by West Africa and passed by a majority of the United Nations Human Rights Council that condemns discrimination and violence against LGBT individuals.

But the entire Ghanian government is not against LGBT individuals. Ghana's Vice President H. F. John Dramani Mahama has said that homosexual men should be included in efforts to fight HIV/AIDS. John Ndeburgi, a former parliament member, challenged them to ask the Supreme Court for the right to freedom of association.


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