Written by Staff Writer at CNN
LONDON (CNN) — A crackdown on the growth of LGBTQ rights in Ghana comes with the support of a widely respected US-based civil rights group, according to an Associated Press investigation.
The Africa Work Group, an organization which “provides assistance in promoting the goals of democracy, human rights, and governance,” have been accused of “passive support for Ghana’s government in efforts to ensure that society is safe for homosexuals,” said AP.
In the article, dozens of secret recordings were played to support the allegations, exposing members of the group to homosexual acts, a charge they “disassociated themselves from” and that they denied.
Ghana, one of the world’s most populous countries, is well known for hosting annual music festivals and major events including the African Cup of Nations.
But over the last three years, the country has been in the spotlight over a legal code which criminalizes acts which include homosexuality, homosexuality and two “acts of gross indecency.”
The code, which was also used to prosecute gay rights advocates last year, has been widely criticized by US lawmakers who claim it “undermines basic human rights.”
The 2016 rulings have drawn huge and public outcry from leaders in Africa and beyond.
Recently, the World Bank announced it was suspending lending until its review of the code is complete.
Among a growing number of countries that say they oppose homosexuality, the US State Department has also voiced its concern.
Harsh legislation in some countries poses risks for the broader political objectives of the group, said AP, which was unable to confirm who made the secret recordings.
But Brian Becker, spokesman for the group, told CNN it “clearly warned the government of the inadmissibility of using civil society organizations in an anti-gay legal framework.”
The Associated Press also described how four recorded meetings that took place in the capital, Accra, spoke of homophobic views amongst the leaders of the group.
It said sources had said the leaders had added that the legal code “should be supported by the state in order to highlight the dangers of homosexual behavior in the country.”
The leader of the group, Aaron Adomah, has condemned the story and called for an investigation of the source.
“The Africa Work Group strongly discourages such activities and condemns any improper use of its resources,” he said in a statement.
“No actions are taken that would undermine or affect our longstanding relationship with Ghana,” he added.
For months, the AP had sought comment from Africa Work Group.
Anger from minority groups
Meanwhile, some members of Ghana’s LGBTQ community spoke of anger, although the activist group had described the allegations as “hurtful” and “false.”
“Those pictures depicting people enjoying themselves with impunity are not from a recent morning or weekend so it makes it sound like we are enjoying a benefit that is not there,” activist Malafa Bassey told the Associated Press.
He said that this should not “undermine the plight of people, who are suffering in the state of emergency.”
Ghana’s presidency was also interviewed by the AP and responded with an official statement, asking the organization to apologize.
It said the group had issued a statement that “claimed the state of emergency was introduced by the government to target homosexuals.”
The African Center for Bias and Lobbying Research has long criticized the Ghana Code.
In a report by the group in 2015, “The shame of the anti-gay laws in Ghana,” it revealed an African context for the legislation.
It said the code also created systemic and institutionalized discrimination against women, LGBTQ people and other marginalized groups.
It pointed to failure to grant pardons, overcrowded jails, poor mental health facilities and silence among government officials as serious problems in Ghana.
Gays must be sent back to Uganda
However, Collins Obaro, activist and policy analyst, criticized the AP report for failing to clarify that LGBTQ communities across the world experienced marginalization at the hands of governments and police, not just in their native country.
“Very often we have not heard about the rights of transgender women or gay people in Uganda or South Africa,” he said.
“The US should concentrate on dealing with the repressive laws in their own country and just forget about homosexuality wherever it is taking place.”