Ghana’s emerging LGBT movement battles with hostility

When activists in Ghana opened a support centre for the local gay community, they expected some pushback in a religiously conservative West African country where homosexuality is illegal. But less than a month after its opening, the centre was forced to close and its founders driven were underground after a wave of homophobia swept the country. Activists with LGBT Rights Ghana opened the centre on the outskirts of the Ghanian capital Accra on January 31 to provide community service and a “safe space” for LGBT people. The outcry came quickly. A major religious lobby, the Catholic Church of Ghana, and even members of the government all came out to demand the centre close down. After three weeks of an intense media offensive, security forces closed the centre on February 24, less than a month after it had opened. The government has not commented on the centre, but the building owner told AFP that he could not “tolerate” such activities on his property. “A wave of homophobia was expected, but not on such a large scale,” Abdul-Wadud Mohammed, communications director of LGBT Rights Ghana told AFP. “We’ve been communicating about our activities for a long time, but it had never become a matter of national interest.” – ‘Our time will come’ – The collective’s strategy had been to grant as many interviews as possible, he said, in a bid to “educate the population and advocate our cause”. But since the closure of their premises, the group’s 13 executive members, who usually campaigned openly on social networks, have been forced to take precautions.