Protest outside Ghana High Commission. Photo: Helen Pattison
Protest outside Ghana High Commission. Photo: Helen Pattison

Joe Garwood, Camden and Haringey Socialist Party

On 6 March, a crowd of LGBTQ+ activists and allies assembled outside the doors of the Ghana High Commission in London in defiance of the anti-LGBTQ bill passed on 28 February.

Dubbed the ‘Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill’, it was first introduced into Parliament in 2021 and makes it illegal to identify as LGBTQ+ or outside of the gender binaries of male and female, massively increasing criminal penalties for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Ghanaians.

Currently in Ghana, same-sex conduct between men is illegal and punishable by a maximum of three years in prison, but the new bill means any queer person, regardless of gender or assigned sex, as well as any allies who publicly advocate for the rights of queer people, could face having to pay up to 5,000 penalty units (approx. 60,000 in Ghanaian cedi, or £4,700), as well as anywhere between six months and three years in prison.

Chants such as “kill the bill” and “queer Ghanaian lives matter” echoed through Belgrave Square as speakers made passionate pleas to the Ghanaian High Commissioner to the UK and Ireland, Papa Owusu-Ankomah, to come out of hiding and face the reality of the vast amounts of people who will be demonised by this bill simply for just existing.

Socialist Party members handed out flyers outlining the links between authoritarian capitalism and anti-LGBTQ+ oppression, and this was also felt in many speakers’ calls for international solidarity, and a recognition of the links between all forms of oppression under capitalism. One speaker spoke out against the war in Gaza, and said how we need to stand united across the world against all draconian regimes that continue to rule through systems of alienation and violence.

President Nana Akufo-Addo has said he will not take any action on the bill until the result of a Supreme Court ruling is decided. This follows a citizen’s challenge to the bill’s constitutionality in court, as well as Ghana’s Ministry of Finance warning that the bill puts $3.8 billion in World Bank funding at risk, and would therefore further negatively affect the exchange rate of the cedi (Ghana’s economy has been in its worst recession in decades). In 2023, the World Bank said it would not consider new funding for Uganda after it enacted anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. However, we know the World Bank, an entirely capitalist institution, cannot provide enough of a challenge to the roots of this oppression.

We stand in solidarity with LGBTQ+ Ghanaians facing this extreme discrimination and persecution, and continue to put forward our socialist ideas as a way towards ending various forms of oppression globally, standing behind and alongside working-class people across Ghana and Africa, with a focus on speaking out against this horrendous form of targeted discrimination.