July 28, 2011

Amnesty International has condemned the recent call by Paul Evans Aidoo, Western Regional Minister, for the arrest of all gay men and lesbians in the country.

The organization has advocated for the removal of Ghana’s legislation which could result in the arrest, detention, prosecution and punishment of people solely for their sexual orientation or gender identity.

It said it is concerned that homophobic comments by political figures may result in violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Ghana.

On 20 July 2011, Paul Evans Aidoo, the Western Region Minister and MP for Sefwi-Wiawso, ordered security forces to arrest all gay and lesbian people in the west of the country, and called on landlords and tenants to report anyone they suspected of being gay or lesbian.

A statement released by Amnesty International stated that the use of laws to arrest, prosecute or imprison individuals for consensual same-sex relations in private or on the basis of their gender identity or expression is a violation of Ghana’s international human rights obligations under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social an Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

The rights enshrined in these international treaties include the rights to privacy, freedom from discrimination, equal treatment under the law, freedom of expression, association and assembly. The Ghanaian government has obligations under these standards to promote, respect and protect the human rights of its population without distinction of any kind, including on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Ghana’s own constitution recognizes the right to freedom from discrimination in Article 17. Furthermore, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, ratified by Ghana in 1989, affirms the equality of all people. Article 2 affirms the right to freedom from discrimination, article 3 guarantees equality before the law and article 26 outlines the duty of all individuals not to discriminate, and to “maintain relations aimed at promoting, safeguarding and reinforcing mutual respect and tolerance.”

Amnesty International further called on Minister Paul Evans Aidoo to retract his comments, and for the Government of Ghana to overturn article 104 of the Ghanaian Criminal Code, which has the effect of criminalizing homosexuality in Ghana.

Story by : Kwadwo Anim/ghanamps.gov.gh