Tough life for gays in Ghana

Location of Ghana in West Africa
Location of Ghana in West Africa

These are excerpts from a description of gay life in the West African country of Ghana. From


There is a lot of stigma towards gay men and lesbians living in Ghana. …  We are not criminals we are not evil, we are not devils.

I was approached by a friend who has been asked why he walks or talks with me? People see him with me and think because of that, he is evil and will never go to heaven; because gays are evil men.

I was evicted from my first room that I rented, because they said no woman visits me and that means am gay.

I was beaten by a man who thought I have no rights to reply the wife when she insult me for being gay because gays are “nothing” and want to know how I got that power to reply to the wife. He used this “who are you? Homosexual talking to my wife like that?”


Gays / homosexuals in Ghana are living in the state of fear. … We are beaten, even when we attend funerals, by young men who think being gay is foolish. We are attacked and robbed and all people say to us is, “What where you doing there by that time and who invited you there?”

Human rights

Gays are not recognized in Ghana. …  Even though the constitution of Ghana gives everyone the right to association, gay men can’t meet to discuss issues that affect them in Ghana since it is believed that gays are not humans.


Gay men don’t go to the hospitals for treatment especially if it is a sexually transmitted disease. Most of these diseases, you are asked to bring with you your sexual partner before treatment. Gay sex has been described as criminal, so most men come home and forget the hospital and fall on friends for help.


Even though the criminal code of Ghana has not got any clear-cut definition on homosexuality or gay life style, the lawyer uses a portion that talks about “unnatural sex” which is sex with an animal. [Editor’s note: Under Ghanaian law, consensual sex “in an unnatural manner” is a misdemeanor.]

HIV-AIDS prevention

Even though there are lots and lots of HIV prevention going on in Ghana, the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transsexual) has been left out. The is no prevention or awareness targeting this community and this has caused lots of damage to us. …

[Editor’s note: Ghana’s overall HIV infection rate is estimated at 1.8 percent, but it’s 25 percent for men who have sex with men.]

Arrests and prison time

Three Ghanaian young guys were invited in mid August 2012 by a white Ghanaian guy to come to his place in another compound on the other side of the city for a group fun time. I think he offered them money for their transport.
In the middle of their fun, police broke into the room, taking photos. At the time of writing, 3 of the 4 have spent almost two weeks in remand prison where the rape, overcrowding, slop food and unsanitary conditions and disease prevail. The men have had 3 court appearances. Another is scheduled for mid September 2012.

In most countries the case would be over on the first court appearance. Not so in Ghana. At court, the police chose not to produce their photos, perhaps they were insufficient to make their case, perhaps they were paid not to, perhaps both, who knows. Police are now playing a weak prosecution for unnatural carnal knowledge. Some say that this may be due to sympathy for fellow Ewes, the accused, or possible payments made by relatives.

Despite this being a petty misdemeanor, the woman judge, educated in Britain and a frequent visitor to the country, has determined that their cases will be called over for more court appearances, even though the police have produced no evidence of penetration necessary to prove unnatural carnal knowledge and the young men are saying that they are innocent of the charge on the charge docket, the judge nevertheless, keeps holding them over for yet another date when nothing new happens except another court date and more days in prison is spent waiting for the judge to do make progress with their case.

Last appearance the judge set bail conditions more appropriate for a major crime. She demanded from each of the accused a sum of 2,000 GHC cash bail which is around $1,000 US each, more than the annual income of most of these poor guys. The CID detectives on the case then added their own demands that their relatives and friends who own real estate property must sign bail papers. To their credit the friends signed even though they stand to lose their properties if the guys do not show up at the court. Non appearance at court is accepted without penalty if the absent person is the judge, defense lawyer, police or complainant who do not appear at the court hearing date. Then, yet another future court date is set.

If the accused guys miss any date at court then they lose their 2,000 GHC bail deposit and their friends lose their houses and the accused men are arrested and placed back in prison.

A conviction of unnatural carnal knowledge with consent is 3 years in prison.
You can see what an awful situation gay guys face in Ghana….

For more information, read the full account here: A chilling situation analysis.”

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, and editor / publisher of Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]


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