Despite the establishment of a reporting system to collate human rights abuses against minorities including Lesbians, Gays, Bisexual and Transgender(LGBT) persons, LGBT people in Ghana still face violence, human rights abuse, discrimination and heightened hate or homophobic speech from government officials and religious leaders which incites violence and homophobia against the LGBT community in Ghana.
According to Mr Jonathan Osei Owusu, the Executive Director of Perfector of Sentiment (POS) foundation, during the 3rd Cycle Universal Periodic Reviewrevealed that, LGBT people are still a target of abuse and violence in their communities, schools and in religious spaces. They continue to be abused because they do not report such cases for the fear of being arrested themselves for their real or perceived sexual or gender identity as LGBT.
Mr Owusu added that, Students are sometimes expelled from school because their school mates suspect that they are LGBT or find them involved in a sexual activity.
Expelling students who are suspected of being gay or lesbian can have a devastating impact on these young people. It prevents these students from achieving success in future careers that require higher education. It also subjects the students to potential abuse by outing them to parents who might punish them for their identification by the school as homosexual.
He said, many perpetrators of violent attacks and human rights abuse against the LGBT community have based their actions on some of the hate or homophobic statements of key political, government or religious figures.
Human rights advocate that speaks against violence of LGBT are target of violence and discrimination. This has prevented many LGBT and human rights advocates from speaking out and being active in advancing the human rights protection and wellbeing of LGBT people in Ghana.
Every report about LGBT is sensationalizedby the media to raise alarm and cause unnecessary panic. Some media houses give a false image and sometimes curse and insult the LGBT community because they have the media platform he noted.
According to the Discrimination Reporting System Complaint Form by the Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) which was established in 2013, “any person who believes he/she has experienced discrimination on the basis of HIV status, gender identity or sexual orientation can report the incident through the CHRAJ stigma and discrimination reporting portal.” Complaints can be filed online, by text message, or in person at the CHRAJ offices.
As of April 2016, 66 complaints had been filed, 27 of which were from LGBTIQ people. Out of the 66 cases, 20 were successfully resolved.
The abuse/discrimination among LGBT contributes to the climate of homophobia and fear, subjecting sexual and gender minorities to a perpetual state of trauma.
Mr Owusu therefore recommended that,there should be provision of clear national guidelines to prevent discrimination directed towards students on any grounds and provide mechanisms for effective redress whenever a student faces such discrimination, including legal action unhampered by limitations based on financial capacity of the child, nor the family.
Protect against violence and discrimination by speeding up the implementation of recommendation which requires Ghana to ensure accountability for acts of violence perpetrated against individuals, on the basis of their sexuality.
Also, enforce Section 208(1) of Ghana’s Criminal Code which states that “Any person who publishes or reproduces any statement, rumour or report which is likely to cause fear and alarm to the public or to disturb the public peace knowing or having reason to believe that the statement, rumour or report is false is guilty of a misdemeanor” to discourage false statements that cause fear and alarm towards people based on SOGI Mr Owusu emphasized.
By: Latifa Carlos