Above: Some of the 21 "suspected" LGBTQ+ Ghanaians arrested in May leave after a court appearance in June.
Ghanaian politicians have submitted a draft bill that would make it illegal to be LGBTQ+ or to be an ally. Those found guilty of being LGBTQ+ could face a five-year prison term. Those found to be advocating for LGBTQ+ people could face 10 years in prison.
The law also targets online platforms and media companies if they post or run information supporting LGBTQ+ people.
“This bill is a homophobe's dream law,” said Danny Bediako of Rightify Ghana, an LGBTQ+ rights group, told the foundation.
“The community is shocked at how wide-ranging it is. People are even scared to go out now and some members say they will leave the country if the bill is passed into law. Even those who want to help us will be afraid,” he added.
Sentences could be reduced, according to the foundation, if the LGBTQ+ people charged would request “treatment,” that is, so-called conversion therapy.
There seems to be enough support across political parties for the bill to pass the country’s Parliament. The next steps include the creation of a committee to review the draft bill.
The West African country still maintains a British prohibition from “carnal knowledge against the order of nature” from its colonized days, The Washington Post notes.
Ghanaian activists have accused the bill’s authors of working with the World Congress of Families, which is a U.S. organization that campaigns internationally against marriage equality and LGBTQ+ rights in general. It held a conference in Ghana’s capital, Accra, a couple of years ago.
“It criminalizes everything,” Wendy Isaack, a researcher at Human Rights Watch, told the Post, “from being a person who engages in same-sex conduct to identifying as a transgender person to being an ally of LGBTQ individuals. People are absolutely terrified.”
In May, authorities detained 16 women and five men who were attending a paralegal training on assisting LGBTQ+ people in the country.
One of those people was a 30-year-old lesbian who said she was held in detention for three weeks and had to sleep on the ground.
“It’s hard to find the words,” she told the Post, “except that I am very, very scared.”
The woman said she wasn’t out to her family but felt OK to be out on work trips away from her home in Accra.
“Now they are targeting the people who help us, the people who keep us alive,” the woman said. “I’m afraid that I will die.”