Forms of Discrimination of LGBT People in Ghana
Text taken from Forms of Discrimination of LGBT People in Ghana, Uganda, Russia and Norway. A report by ISFiT Research Group 1/2017, authors: Anna Bil-Jaruzelska, Sigurd M. Nordli Oppegaard, Øyvind Isachsen Berntsen, Marius Flatås, Eivind Rindal, Sarah Pokua Sarpong, Eline Stenwig, 2017, pp.13-15
Religion. Ghana is a very religious nation. Religion has played a big role in Ghana’s development, and it influences daily life of Ghanaians to a high degree. The importance of religious identity in Ghana is high, with a majority of Ghanaians considering their religious identity very important for their self-perception.
Religion has become a potent social force in every facet of Ghanaian life, from occupation, health and education to family life and economic activities, and it is the main framework through which the average Ghanaian interprets daily life, various phenomena in life, and even the future. Religious people and institutions are often agents of advocacy, innovation, community empowerment and social justice movements. However, such positive aspects of religion are relatively rare in Ghana, and in the country, religious groups have been at the forefront of the fight against homosexuality.
According to the CIA World Factbook, the religious makeup of Ghana’s population is 71.2% Christian, 17.6% Muslim, 5.2% traditional, 0.8% other, and 5.2% none.
The Bible and the Koran are often invoked as justification for the very negative attitudes people have towards homosexuals, and religion is one of the reasons most often cited by Ghanaians who believe that homosexuality should not be socially acceptable. Personal religious affiliations and beliefs are typically seen as strong indicators of attitudes about sexuality.
Various studies also maintain that those who exhibit negative attitudes towards homosexuality are more likely to be religious and attend church frequently, as well as follow conservative religious dogma and ideology.
According to a Ghanaian newspaper The Informer, 82% of Ghanaian citizens “abhor homosexuality” due to religious affiliation. Many religions have a tendency to categorize homosexual behaviors as unnatural, ungodly, or impure. Because of this framing, active religious involvement and exposure to religious literature, as well as frequent interaction with other believers, are likely to encourage anti-homosexual attitudes.
Since religion has such a strong place in everyday life of Ghanaians and to a high degree shapes their worldview, it can be seen as a very significant factor contributing to the negative social attitudes towards homosexuality being widespread in the country.
Culture. Ghana follows in the footsteps of numerous other African countries in seeing homosexuality as alien to Ghanaian culture, and a western neo-imperial imposition. However, despite this popular belief, homosexuality has existed and has been practiced in Ghana, […].
When it comes to homosexuality in Ghana and other African countries, there has been a constant discussions about whether homosexuality was brought to Africa by the European colonists or Arab slave traders, or if it is something that always has been a part of African culture. Some European colonists believed that African men were the most primitive of men, and therefore had to be heterosexual, due to the belief that the “primitive man” was supposed to be close to, and ruled by, nature.
Thus, they did not believe that homosexuality existed in Africa at all. Today, the belief that homosexuality is a “Western” imposition is widespread among Ghanaians. According to this argument, homosexuality should be deterred to preserve the traditional African culture and values.
These beliefs are used to justify very negative attitudes towards homosexuality. Even though no conclusive evidence has ended this debate, there are several indications that homosexuality existed in Africa before “Western” and “Eastern” influence.
In addition to the examples in the chapter on pre-colonial Ghana, other indications are found in the language. There exist terms for homosexual practices which are non-Indo-European and non-Semitic, which indicate the existence of homosexual practices in Ghana before influences from other cultures.
Based on these claims, researchers have made the argument that the colonist in fact did not bring homosexuality with them to Africa, but rather – through Christianity – anti-LGBT sentiments, which today constitute the foundation of the negative attitudes towards LGBT people in Ghana.