U.S. ambassador: Ghana needs to talk about gay rights

Ambassador Donald Teitelbaum
Ambassador Donald Teitelbaum

Continuing the Obama administration’s campaign for gay rights abroad, the departing U.S. ambassador to Ghana urged the country to begin a respectful dialogue about gay rights.

The comments by Ambassador Donald Teitelbaum coincided with the Republican Party’s adoption of a platform opposing the Obama administration’s fight against 76 countries’ anti-homosexuality laws.

Ghana is one of those countries, with a law that provides for prison sentences of five to 25 years for men convicted of homosexual activity.

Teitelbaum focused on gay bashing and the practice of supposedly “corrective” rape of lesbians. Gay Star News reported him saying:

We need to say that it is not OK. It is not OK to oppress people because of the life they choose to live.

He added:

It is not for me to tell Ghanaians how to think or how to act. But what I will say is that I really do believe that Ghanaians, first and foremost … accept the idea of respecting people’s fundamental rights, because you treat each other this way every day.

I know that Ghanaians have strong moral view points of their own.

It is my view that Ghana properly needs to do something like we have done in the United States, and have open respectful dialogue about how you can reconcile your belief and rights, because the Ghanaian constitution, as I understand it, guarantees rights based on citizenship.

Recent discussions of gay issues in Ghana have been quite different from what the ambassador recommended. Gay Star News reported:

Recently, the right wing National Patriotic Party (NPP), currently a member of the opposition, has been trying to stage a smear campaign and moral panic by alleging that the vice president is gay. …  The smear campaign is designed to weaken the ruling left wing National Democratic Congress party, to which the vice president belongs.

Last month the Constitution Review Commission (CRC) of Ghana has recommended the country’s Supreme Court should rule on whether the country should legalise same-sex acts.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him at info@76crimes.com.

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