Black Lives Matter UK expresses our solidarity with LGBT+ Rights Ghana. We stand with all oppressed queer and transgender people across Africa and the world. As queer women founded BLM, an attack on the LGBT+ community in Ghana is an attack against all of us. We want our courageous Ghanaian family to know that we are with you. Your struggle is our struggle.
So when LGBT+ Rights Ghana opened its offices earlier this year, this certainly was a historic and beautiful moment of hope. A proud and bold stance against widespread homophobia. And this vital haven is much needed where arbitrary arrest, discrimination and violence are all too common experiences. The aggressive reaction from police, catholic bishops and high levels of government was shocking. We did not expect to see armed police supervising the closure of your offices in less than one month of opening. It further demonstrated the urgent need for LGBT+ rights to be won.
We reject the assertion that the struggle for queer liberation in Ghana is a foreign import. In fact, LGBT+ rights are anti-colonial in nature. In the land now known as Ghana, queer people and practices have always been present. The Asante Kingdoms had male concubines in its court. The Nzema people have a live tradition of Agɔnwole agyalɛ – a form of same-sex marriage. British Victorian colonialists outlawed our heritage and rights in 1860. Therefore we must defeat violence against queer and non-gender conforming people. BLMUK believes that Ghanaians cannot be free until Ghana is free from colonialism. Essentially this is linked up with the total liberation of the entire continent.
As Black feminists, we know this anti-queer violence suppresses freedoms for a wider group of people who do not conform to conservative norms of gender and sexuality; like the government’s tolerance of “witch camps” where women are denied basic rights, the endemic violence towards sex workers, and the systemic lack of support for disabled people. Our freedoms are dependent on each other. Your imagination for a Ghana that embraces LGBT+ people inspires us. We know it promises greater protections for a wide spectrum of people, beyond those who identify as queer. It is that solidarity which strengthens us all.
We urge all our supporters to donate to LGBT+ Rights Ghana fundraiser and we will do what we can to see your offices open once more.