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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 15, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 28
Round up the Gays, Ghana official says
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Round up the Gays, Ghana official says

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A powerful official in the African country of Ghana has reportedly ordered the arrest of all Gays in his region.

According to the Christian website MyJoyOnline, Western Region Minister Paul Evans Aidoo ordered the immediate arrest of all Gay people on July 20.

A 'Region Minister' is the equivalent of a governor in the U.S. Ghana's Western Region is reportedly 'a beehive of activities linked with homosexuality.'

According to reports in Ghana's media, the Western and Central Regions together have a total of 8,000 Gay men and Lesbians.

Aidoo ordered the Bureau of National Investigations - Ghana's equivalent of the FBI - and all local police agencies to 'smoke out' anyone suspected of engaging in same-sex relations.

He also called on landlords and neighbors of suspected Gay people to inform on them.

'All efforts are being made to get rid of these people in the society,' he assured his supporters.

Aidoo's directive follows months of agitation against Gays in Ghana.

On July 19, the Christian Council of Ghana issued a strongly worded condemnation of Gay people and warned Ghanans not to vote for any politician who supports LGBT rights.

That statement followed a series of anti-Gay demonstrations sponsored by Muslim and Christian religious leaders. Predictably, they characterized same-sex relations as 'ungodly and demonic.'

Aidoo himself is Roman Catholic.

In an interview with the Christian Joy News, Aidoo said he doubted there were as many as 8,000 Gays and Lesbians in his region.

'I don't believe it,' he said. 'Nobody believes it.'

'We do not see them; REGSEG does not see them,' he added, referring to the human rights NGO that originally reported the number.

Aidoo added that once Gays are arrested 'they will be hauled before court to test the strength of the law which frowns upon homosexuality in the country.'

Meanwhile, a lawyer at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology challenged the legitimacy of Aidoo's order.

Ernest Kofi Abotsi said that no person can be arrested for same-sex relations, because the law banning 'unnatural carnal knowledge' is ambiguous and does not necessarily refer to Gays. That question should go to Ghana's Supreme Court, he said.

Unless the Supreme Court rules otherwise, sex between males is illegal in Ghana, but the criminal code does not specify a penalty. Sex between women is not illegal.

The 2010 U.S. State Department Human Rights Report painted a bleak picture of LGBT rights in Ghana, citing 'strong sociocultural beliefs [that] discriminated against and stigmatized same-gender sex.'

'There were no registered Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) organizations' in Ghana, the report continued. 'LGBT persons faced widespread discrimination, as well as police harassment and extortion attempts. Gay men in prison often were subjected to sexual and other physical abuse.'

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