It seems like members of the LGBT+ community are the modern-day Salem witches. Every time we feel like we’ve caught a break, that maybe, just maybe, they’re starting to realise we’re real and here to stay, then boom, another crusade begins.
This time around, Ghana is leading the hunt. And they’re not just targeting LGBT members, but anyone who’s on the side of LGBT advocacy. What I can’t seem to wrap my head around is, after all these years, with the leaps and bounds that the world has seen in queer rights, people still seem threatened by our existence.
They go around thumping holy books, quoting verses thousands of years old. The irony about the whole situation is that the colonisers who even bought these books over have left behind the archaic ideas they proclaim. But yet, our brothers and sisters in the motherland still carry hate in their hearts, based on what they were fed by the west.
Let’s go back in history. There have been countless records of homosexual relations in Africa, centuries before the white man stepped foot on our shores. In ancient Egypt, tombs have been excavated with the bodies of two men, Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep, embracing each other as lovers. Not only was homosexuality accepted, but it was also considered holy. Quite a few deities were depicted androgynously, such as Mut (the goddess of Motherhood) and Sekmeht (goddess of war), who were both portrayed as women with erect penises.
But then, the Christians and the Muslims came, with their apprehension against anything that seemed to threaten the masculinity of male figures.
On February 25th, following anti-LGBT protests fuelled by bigotry from various religious bodies, the LGBT advocacy rights office was shut down in Accra. There have been multiple reports of members of the community being attacked and abused publicly on the streets.
Funnily enough, there is no law that criminalises being LGBT in Ghana. But there is a law, a remnant of British rule, which mentions “unnatural carnal knowledge”. If homosexuality is unnatural, though, I wonder why there are thousands of cases of same-sex relationships in the animal kingdom. I remember bringing this point up to a pastor once, and he told me that we’re not animals, and we shouldn’t have to feed just any desire we have.
They always have an excuse as to why our community should be hated and attacked. The church in Ghana has made very violent, public statements, such as ‘throwing them into the ocean’. Them, obviously being LGBT+ individuals. The Christian Council of Ghana, in a press release, called homosexuality an “affront to human dignity” and “not a human right”.
But it’s not just Ghana that is fighting hard to abolish LGBT advocacy and an entire population of people. Here in Nigeria, just last year, over 50 men were arrested at a gathering. The Lagos state police commissioner, Imohimi Edgal, announced that he had personally ordered the raid after receiving a tip that they were there to join a “homosexual club”.
And it goes beyond just what’s lawful or unlawful. When the government doesn’t acknowledge a class of people, it leaves those people open to attack from other civilians. Many people, including me, have suffered at the hands of “vigilante” who believe it’s their responsibility to curb homosexuality. We even have a slang word for them, called ‘kito’.
Many of them prey on gay men via social media, including Grindr and Facebook. They bait and impersonate, luring naive men to locations where they are beaten, threatened, robbed, and in some cases, even killed.
Those who fall victim and survive have no way to report the crimes because they themselves are criminals in the eyes of the law. But still, Ghana wants to pass a bill to criminalise queer people and LGBT advocacy. Let’s not let it catch on.
- You may also like The Rise of Rev. Darrell Goodwin — Black. Queer. Activist. Leader.