The graphic being used to post about #GhanaSupportsEquality on social media.

#LGBTRightsGhana: Ghanaians Rally Support For the LGBT+ Community

Pro-LGBT+ advocacy in Ghana is at an all-time high as members of the community face public backlash.

The LGBT+ community in the West African country of Ghana is a fast growing group, but they are also highly marginalized. In recent times, the nation's LGBT+ population has faced increased backlash from members of Ghana's society who are opposed to the rights of the community. Many members of the community are forced to live secret or suppressed lives, as those who are open about their sexuality face discrimination and oppression in various forms and degrees, as a result of living in a society that lacks progressiveness and regard for basic human rights for all individuals regardless of sexual orientation.

At the moment both the backlash and the advocacy for the cause is currently at a climax, sparked by recent events concerning Ghana's LGBT+ support group and the public opposition against it by Ghana's society and the nation's government. Ghana's official LGBT+ support group, called LGBT+ Rights Ghana, established their headquarters in Accra on January 31, 2021. The office was intended to be a safe space and avenue of support for all LGBT+ Ghanaians. On February 24, 2021. the office was shut down by members of Ghana's national security force together with the police, on orders issued by Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, after the center became the subject of a furious public backlash.

Now, LGBT+ Ghanaians and those who support them are pushing back, fighting for the rights and equality of the marginalized group. From speaking up on social media to initiating various support initiatives, the LGBT+ community and their allies are kicking against the government, the press, and the religious sector, who have all publicly expressed or even enforced their stance against the LGBTQ+ community.

Following the closure of their office, LGBT+ Rights Ghana started a GoFundMe called the Community Support Fund, an initiative designed to support and empower members of the LGBT+ community in Ghana who are financially constrained. Over $28,000 has been raised so far from over 700 individuals who donated varying amounts, adding words of support and encouragement to their donations.

A Ghanaian feminist group called Silent Majority released a statement condemning the actions of the media, religious groups, and political figures opposing the LGBT+ community and declaring support for LGBT+ Rights Ghana and all queer and trans Ghanaians. Over 1,200 Ghanaians in Ghana and the diaspora have signed the statement on Silent Majority's website in solidarity at the time of writing.

Several celebrities and other individuals of influence in Ghanaian society have rallied together to support the cause, issuing either statements of support or commentary on the issue, or both. Ghanaian footballer Michael Essien is the latest to declare support for the group, joining the likes of contemporary highlife musician Kwabena Kwabena, pop artist Sister Deborah, actress and film producer Juliet Ibrahim, musician and film director Wanlov, jazz musician Stephanie Benson, actress Lydia Forson, and more who have openly expressed their views on the issue.

Internationally, high profile figures with Ghanaian or African heritage have signed an open letter in support of the LGBT+ community in Ghana, including actor Idris Elba, model Naomi Campbell, actor Boris Kodjoe, and editor-in-chief of Vogue Edward Enninful. The letter expressed dismay at the treatment of LGBT+ Rights Ghana and called on Ghana's president Nana Akufo-Addo to protect the country's LGBT+ community. The letter has been signed by sixty-six Ghanaians and Africans in sectors such as movies, fashion and music.

Screen shot of a since deleted Instagram post by footballer Michael Essien. Screenshot of a since deleted Instagram post by footballer Michael Essien.(Instagram)

Screen shot of a since deleted Instagram post by footballer Michael Essien.

However, Michael Essien's support of the cause has led to public backlash. Yesterday, Essien called for more support for gays and lesbians in Ghana, insisting that they must be heard. "We see you, we hear you, we support you. Our LGBTQIA plus Community in Ghana #ghanasupportequalityGH," he wrote. Several Instagram users strongly reprimanded the ex-Chelsea star and former Ghana international in the comments of his post, which has since been deleted. This came right after President Nana Akufo-Addo boldly proclaimed that same-sex marriage will never be legalized in his tenure. Speaking at a religious event, he stated "I have said it before, and let me stress it again, that it will not be under the Presidency of Nana Addo Dankwah Akufo-Addo that same-sex marriage will be legal".

These and more show that even just supporters of the movement face backlash from those with an opposing perspective. It's a glaring example of the magnitude of the battle the Ghanaian LGBT+ community faces. However, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a step, and with the local and international support the movement has received so far, that step has been taken.

News Brief
Photo: Getty

Here's What You Need To Know About The Political Unrest In Sudan

Thousands have been protesting the Sudanese government over the weekend, supporting the military's plans for a coup.

Sudan's transitional government is in turmoil as thousands of citizens conducted a sit-in protest against them, over the weekend. A group of Sudanese citizens have called on the military to disestablish the nation's current government, as the country struggles with the greatest crisis they've seen since the end of former dictator Omar al-Bashir's controversial ruling, two years ago. The weekend's pro-military protests come as anti-military protestors took to the streets earlier this month to fight for civilian-ruled laws.

Military-aligned demonstrators assembled outside of the famously off-limits entrance of the Presidential Palace located in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum on Monday. Gatherers set up tents, blocking off access to two main intersections, cutting off access to the capital for those inside. Police attempted to wave off crowds with teargas, with Khartoum state officials saying they had, "repelled an attempted assault on the seat of government," in a statement issued Monday.

The assembly was called for by a coalition of rebel groups and political parties that support Sudan's military, accusing the civilian political parties of mismanagement and monopolizing power under their ruling. Demonstrations began on Saturday, but Sunday's gathering saw a lower attendance. According to Reuters, by Monday afternoon, thousands, between 2,000 - 3,000, had returned to voice their concerns. 52-year-old tribal elder Tahar Fadl al-Mawla spoke at the helm of the sit-in outside of the Presidential palace saying, "The civilian government has failed. We want a government of soldiers to protect the transition." Alongside a 65-year-old Ahman Jumaa who claimed to have traveled more than 900 kilometers (570 miles) from Southern region Nyala to show his support.

Protesters are demanding the appointment of a new cabinet that is "more representative of the people who participated in the December 2019 revolution that eventually led to the ousting of former president Omar al-Bashir", Al Jazeera reported from Sudan. Protesters headed towards the Presidential Palace, where an emergency cabinet meeting was being held when they were met by police forces.

Pro-civilian political parties have plans for their own demonstration on Thursday, the anniversary of the 1964 revolution that overthrew Sudan's first military regime under Ibrahim Abboud and brought in a period of democracy that the country still struggles to uphold.

Sudanese Twitter users shared their thoughts online, with many drawing similarities between the current unrest and other political crises the nation has faced.

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