From Sebastian R. Freiku, Kumasi .
Ghana has accepted recommendations to protect Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and intersex (LGBTIs) as their fundamental human rights under the United Nations Universal Periodic Review mechanism.
The acceptance came after Ghana appeared before the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for a review of its human rights records under the Universal Periodic Review mechanism on November 7, 2017.
As disclosed by the Africa Center for International Law and Accountability (ACILA), which is monitoring compliance of African states with their international obligations and commitments under international law, and promotes the rule of law and public accountability, Ghana accepted recommendations to provide Equal Protection of the Law from violence and discrimination against LGBTI people, in accordance with her domestic law and international human rights law obligations.
As recommended by Ireland, Ghana was to take the steps necessary to protect LGBTI persons from violence and discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity, while Czechia charged Ghana to ensure that victims of discrimination and violence, based on sexual orientation and gender identity, have access to rehabilitation and remedy, and that all perpetrators must be punished.
Italy also recommended that Ghana takes measures to fight against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, with the Bolivarian Republic recommending the continued implementation of the discrimination reporting system in order to tackle stigmatisation and discrimination of the most vulnerable groups.
Ghana, according to ACILA, however, rejected recommendations to legalise same-sex marriage or decriminalise consensual sexual relations during the review and follow up discussion by the Working Group of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
ACILA, incorporated under US law, in the state of Virginia, since October 20, 2015, and incorporated under Ghanaian law as a company limited by guarantee since December 23, 2015, embarked on a study in June 2017 to gauge Ghanaians’ attitudes towards LGBTI issues.
Among the key highlights of findings by the ACILA public opinion survey are that more than 87% of Ghanaians say they know the 1992 Constitution of Ghana guarantees human rights to all persons in Ghana, and that 81.5% of the Ghanaian populace is aware that Ghana is required by the UN, other international instruments and obligations, as well as the 1992 Constitution, to protect the rights of all citizens in Ghana.
The findings revealed that about two-thirds of Ghanaians (60.7%) are not aware Ghana has committed to provide Equal Protection of the Law from violence and discrimination to all persons, including LGBTI people, under the United Nations Universal Periodic Review mechanism.
The ACILA report of June 2017 also disclosed that more than two-thirds (70%) of Ghanaians are unaware the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has a “Discrimination Reporting System” for reporting on violence and discrimination against LGBTIs and Persons Living with HIV.
It was further revealed that Ghanaians are more concerned about the perceived negative consequences of LGBTI issues than armed robbery, high cost of living, unemployment, illegal mining (galamsey), rape/defilement, and poor infrastructure, stressing that corruption was the number one concern of Ghanaians, followed closely by LGBTI issues.
The report, based on a survey from random sampling of 1,200 respondents across five regions of Ghana (Greater Accra, Ashanti, Northern, Volta and Western), indicated that about 60% of Ghanaians “strongly disagree” or “disagree” that LGBTIs deserve equal treatment as heterosexuals.
While a significant number of Ghanaians (87%) are against allowing LGBTI persons holding public meetings to discuss LGBTI issues, 91% of Moslems are against allowing LGBTIs holding public meetings; Christians (87%), Traditionalists (73.1%); and Atheists (33.3%).
It said respondents in the Volta Region had the highest approval (19.4%) allowing LBTIs to hold public meetings to discuss LGBTI issues.
According to the report, more than 97% of Ghanaians are aware the police have a responsibility to protect every citizen against mob injustice, and “strongly agree” or “agree” by 94% that any person who engages in mob activity should be brought to justice. However, 20% “strongly disagree” or “disagree” that the police have a responsibility to protect LGBTI people against mob injustice.
Majority of Ghanaians (80%), according to the report, are “very uncomfortable” or “uncomfortable” associating themselves with LGBTIs. However, about 67% will receive emergency medical treatment from a nurse or doctor they perceive as LGBTI.
Meanwhile, 30% of Christians; 40% of Moslems; and 50% of Traditionalists will not receive emergency medical treatment from a nurse or medical doctor who is perceived as being LGBTI.
In the same vein, 44% of Ghanaians who are 51 to 61 years will not receive emergency medical treatment from a nurse or medical doctor who is perceived as being LGBTI.
It was also discovered by ACILA that about 13% of Ghanaians will “physically abuse”, “verbally abuse” or “force” an LGBTI to hide his or her identity if they discover a person is LGBTI, and that majority of Ghanaians (45.3%) will “socially shun” an identified LGBTI.
Following that more than 75% of Ghanaians applaud homophobic statements by state officials, religious leaders, or influential people in society, with only 24.5% saying homophobic statements should be condemned.
In spite of the of the issue of right, 36% of Ghanaians are of the opinion that LGBTIs should be discriminated against in job search, religious association (10%) and public appointments (9.16%), with more than 54% of Ghanaians saying expulsion of students perceived to be LGBTI should be promoted, the ACILA findings revealed.
Meanwhile, the Executive Director of ACILA, Mr. William Nyarko, has urged participants of a two-day capacity building for journalists in human rights to help protect and defend the fundamental human rights and freedoms of lesbians and homosexuals, because the 1992 Constitution guarantees the rights and freedoms of every Ghanaian, including lesbians and homosexuals, as well as persons living with disabilities.
According to him, abusing the rights of lesbians and homosexuals is a breach of the supreme law of the land, and that the act is different from the right, hence, the need to protect LGBTIs.