Ghana, one of 32 countries that currently outlaws homosexuality, has caved to conservative outlash and banned the Pan Africa ILGA (International, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans and Intersex Association) from occurring in the country. It was scheduled for this July in Accra, the country’s capital.
“(The) Ghana government won’t allow such (a) conference and that is it,” a spokesman for Cynthia Morrison, the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, told Reuters. He would not provide further reasoning except to say that this decision was “not because of coronavirus.”
A spokesman for Ghanian President Nana Akufo-Addo further confirmed the ban to Reuters via text.
Pan-Africa ILGA’s 5th Annual Regional Conference was scheduled from July 27 to July 31. It would be their first since 2018, when they held their 4th Annual Conference in Botswana.
In a statement released today, the South Africa-based advocacy group announced that they were officially postponing the conference, “in support of World Health Organisation’s efforts to inform and help communities slow the spread of COVID-19 virus.” They made no mention of the comments from Ghana’s officials.
ATTENTION: ALL STAKEHOLDERS AND MEDIA HOUSES
Re: PAN AFRICA ILGA BIENNIAL CONFERENCE IN GHANA pic.twitter.com/hOF7YhhopE
— Pan Africa ILGA (@PanAfricaILGA) March 14, 2020
Once conservative and religious activists learned of the conference, they began protesting heavily against it. A petition garnered over 19,000 signatures in a week. Advocates for Christ Ghana wrote a letter to President Akufo-Addo, saying that “it is clearly illegal for ILGA to hold a conference here in Ghana representing a group that promotes these [same-sex] activities.”
Ashanti Iman Sheihk Muumin Abdul Haroun, vowed last month to stop the “demonic” conference, promising that “we Muslims, Christians and the traditional religion will all rise up” in response.
While Ghana has not “prosecuted anyone for same-sex relations in recent years,” LGBTQ people still face abuse and bigotry in the West African coast country. Human Rights Watch alleges that the country has had “some reform”, but still lives under colonial era legal infrastructure.
In her own comments, Minister Morrison said in a TV interview that Pan Africa-ILGA didn’t have a place in Ghana. “I am a Christian likewise the President. The president has said no to the gay conference,” Morrison said.
Last year, Ghana hosted a conference by the anti-LGBTQ organization World Congress of Families, a SPLC-rated hate group.