The Ghana AIDS Commission is awaiting results from an updated survey of HIV infection rates among local men who have sex with men (MSM).
The previous survey, launched in 2011, found that 17.5 percent of MSM in Ghana were HIV-positive. That compares to the country’s overall infection rate of 1.3 percent.
In a discussion of the new survey, the commission says that it will use the updated results to track trends in the AIDS epidemic and to evaluate Ghana’s existing anti-AIDS programs, which are supported by the Global Fund and Pepfar (the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief).
An online article in Ghana Web about the HIV statistics suggests how unfamiliar many Ghanaians are with LGBTI people and the level of hostility that community faces beyond merely to Ghana’s laws calling for prison sentences of up to three years for sexual intimacy between men.
The following excerpts are from that article, published Nov. 4 under the headline “30,000 Homosexuals in Ghana; 17% living with HIV/AIDS”:
Even though the country’s laws criminalizes unnatural carnal knowledge, the practice of men who have sex with men (MSM), popularly called gay, is on an alarming rise.
It is estimated that MSM in Ghana are over 30,000 and they can be found in all 10 regions of the country.
The figure is contained in a report titled integrated Biological and Behavioural Surveillance (IBBS) survey, which was commissioned by the Ghana AIDS Commission in 2011. …
Officials of the Ghana AIDS Commission told The Finder that though the act is unlawful, the Commission needed information on them in order to target them for HIV/AIDS education.
The Ghana AIDS Commission partners non-governmental organizations (NGO) that focus on MSM by educating them on preventive strategies to ensure that they do not spread the disease.
The Commission supplies condoms to the NGOs, who place the condoms at vantage points for the MSM to pick them up and use, as well as anti-retroviral drugs for infected persons.
Section 104 (1) (b) of the Criminal Code makes the act of unnatural carnal knowledge a criminal offence.
Section 104 (1) (b) of the Criminal code state, “Whoever has an unnatural carnal knowledge of any person of 16 years or over with his consent is guilty of a misdemeanor” [which is punishable by a prison sentence of up to three years] while (1) (a) of the same code, which makes reference to sodomy, states, “whoever has unnatural carnal knowledge of any person of the age 16 or over without his consent shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of not less than five years and not more than 25 years.”
The law is, however, silent on any form of punishment for lesbianism that is, sexual relationship between two females.
Persons who engage in lesbianism fall foul of the law, but compared to sodomy and homosexuality, such conduct carries a less severe sentence as far as the Criminal Code is concerned. Ghanaian laws prohibit unnatural carnal acts – a definition which is widely understood to include homosexuality, although in practice, very few have been prosecuted for homosexual acts.
In 2003, an Accra Circuit Court jailed four gay men for engaging in homosexual activities.
In a highly religious country like Ghana, homosexuality is seen as an imported foreign lifestyle choice and a moral aberration.
While churches and mosque have been at the forefront of leading a crusade against what they describe as a moral canker, some human right activists in the country consider the subject a human rights issue. …
- Ghana student faces anti-gay threats, so police arrest him (76crimes.com)
- Ghana president: Anti-gay anger blocks even talk of change (76crimes.com)
- Don’t jail gays, says son of Ghana independence leader (76crimes.com)
- Anti-AIDS programs ignore LGBTs in Africa (76crimes.com)
- HIV-positive activist to Uganda: Stop impeding AIDS battle (76crimes.com)