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21 LGBTQ activists jailed in Ghana following ‘unlawful gathering’ denied bail

Some of the arrested were reportedly seen weeping after the ruling.

By Jamie Tabberer

Words: Jamie Tabberer; picture: Pexels

A Ghanaian court has denied bail to 21 people imprisoned for what police have called an ‘unlawful gathering’ and ‘promoting an LGBTQ agenda’ last month.

The arrests in the city of Ho in Ghana’s Volta region took place on 20 May after the group handed out leaflets containing titles like “Coming out” and “All about Trans” at a hotel.

Human rights group Rightfy Ghana previously called the arrests of the sixteen women and five men illegal.

The court decision yesterday [9 May 2021] at Circuit Court was shared via the group’s lawyer Julia Selman Ayetey, and reported by Reuters. According to the outlet, some of the activists were seen weeping after the ruling.

The group’s next hearing is on 16 June. The activists were previously denied bail at Ghana High Court.

“We are calling on the Ghana Police Service to #ReleaseThe21”

Rightify Ghana originally said in a Twitter post after the arrests: “The press teamed up with the police to storm the meeting location, started taking images, took their belongings and arrested them.

“We are calling on the Ghana Police Service to #ReleaseThe21.”

Same-sex sex is illegal in Ghana and carries a penalty of up to three years in prison, although the law is rarely practised. However, the country has seen an increase in homophobia and transphobia in 2021. In February, an LGBTQ centre in the country’s capital city, Accra was forced to close.

Reacting to news of the closure, supermodel Naomi Campbell and UK Vogue editor Edward Enniful were among signees of an open letter in solidarity with LGBTQs in Ghana.