The Embassy of the United States in Accra has officially notified persons who intend to visit Ghana of emerging threats and acts of violence targeted at LGBT persons and therefore warned prospective tourists to “exercise increased caution”
The caution which was published on Monday November 20, 2023 was issued as a travel advisory and comes at a time Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo has announced his government’s target of attracting some two million tourists that will culminate in a $4 billion spending impact by 2025.
“Exercise increased caution in Ghana due to crime and violence against members of the LGBTQI+ community. Some areas have increased risk”, the alert stated and specifically mentioned “ parts of the Bono East, Bono, Savannah, Northern, North East, and Upper East regions due to civil unrest.”
It stated further that Ghanaian law contains prohibitions on “unlawful carnal knowledge” – generally interpreted as any kind of sexual intimacy – between persons of the same sex. Punishments can include fines and/or incarceration. Anti-LGBTQI+ rhetoric and violence have increased in recent years.
“Members of the LGBTQI+ community have reported safety incidents that include targeted assault, rape, mob attacks, and harassment due to their identity”, the travel advisory stated.
In its country summary about Ghana, the travel advisory noted: “ Violent crimes, such as carjacking and street mugging, do occur. These crimes often happen at night and in isolated locations. Exercise increased caution specifically due to crime:”
It said the U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens and that local police may lack the resources to respond effectively to more serious crimes.
The alert urged prospective tourits to visit their LGBTQI+ Travel Information page and review the Human Rights Report for additional details.
It also encouraged enrollment in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) for emergency alerts and advises a review of the Country Security Report for Ghana.
It said prospective travellers and tourists are recommended to prepare a contingency plan for emergency situations and follow the Department of State on social media for updates.
Meanwhile Ghana’s Parliament is at the verge of passing a new law which shall not only criminalize all forms of LGBT activities in the country but would in addition, throw into jail journalists and media owners who publish pro-LGBT news and persons found to be allies of same-sex relationships.
The country’s President, Nana Akufo-Addo, who prides himself as a human rights lawyer, has remained rather unclear on his exact stance on the Bill currently before parliament and has maintained zipped lips on whether or not he would assent his signature to the Bill to finalize its passage into law for it to be Gazetted.
Recently, when United States Vice President Kamala Harris visited Ghana and the question on whether the country has laws that criminalizes sexual rights came up, what Nana Akufo-Addo said was that “we don’t have any such legislation here in Ghana”. He was right but he did not add that Parliament is indeed armed to the teeth and ready to pass such a law without any form of restraint.
The President did not add that the said law, when passed would not only target the LGBT community, but would jail media owners and journalists who speak in favour of LGBT persons. He did not add that even property owners who rent out their facilities to LGBT persons and their allies risk jail term.
The President ‘sweet-talked’ Kamala Harris and the international media without coming clear in direct and simple language about the actual practical situation in Ghana.
Nana Akufo-Addo simply said it was “a private Member’s Bill this is not an official legislation of the Government but it is one that has been mooted by a handful of private Members,”, but the President did not tell Kamala Harris that the “Private Members” pushing for the passage of the Bill include key appointees of his Government plus Members of Parliament from his party and that his Government has not distanced itself from the said appointees.