OutRage! News Service. March 13.
Open Letter to President John Kufuor of Ghana
On the occasion of his State Visit to the UK
Call for the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Ghana and
government action against homophobic hate crime
LONDON, 12 March 2007
The following letter was delivered by LGBTI human right group OutRage!
to President Kufuor when he arrived in London today.
It was written in response to requests for protests from Prince Kweku
MacDonald, President, Gay and Lesbian Association of Ghana (GALAG),
and from Mac-Darling Cobbinah Executive / National Director, Centre
for Popular Education and Human Rights Ghana.
Further information: OutRage! 020 7403 1790
President John Kufuor
Republic of Ghana
12 March 2007
Dear President Kufuor,
Welcome to London.
We extend warmest wishes to you and the people of Ghana, on behalf of
the lesbian and gay human rights group OutRage!.
We join with you this month to celebrate the 50th anniversary of
We hope that this year, as you celebrate Ghana’s freedom, you will
extend that freedom to your lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender
Ghana’s continuing criminalisation of homosexuality is a relic of
colonialism. This anti-gay law was imposed on the people of Ghana by
the British colonial administration in the nineteenth century. It sets
Ghanaian against Ghanaian, undermining national unity and dividing
people against each other.
The prohibition of consenting adult same-sex relations violates the
United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the African
Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which enshrine the principles of
equal rights and non-discrimination for all human beings.
As a free and independent nation, we hope your government will turn
its back on the hateful, divisive homophobia of the colonial era.
Specificially, we respectfully urge your government to:
1. Repeal the legislation that criminalises same-sex relations
2. Enact new laws to protect LGBT people against discrimination
3. Include LGBT Ghanaians in your HIV prevention programmes
4. Arrest the perpetrators of homophobic violence and protect the
5. Begin a dialogue with the Gay and Lesbian Association of Ghana
All Ghanaians should enjoy independence and freedom.
We ask you to support individual liberty: the right of each person to
live their own life and make their own choices, providing they do not
harm others. A democratic state has no legitimate place in the
bedroom, nor should it seek to dictate who people love.
We urge you to follow in the footsteps of the African National
Congress government of South Africa, which pioneered Africa’s
commitment to the human rights of lesbian and gay people. The ANC
embraced gay equality in 1987. It later ensured that the
post-apartheid constitution became the first in the world to
explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. Since
then, the ANC government has repealed the apartheid-era anti-gay
We note that the anti-apartheid heroes, Nelson Mandela and Archbishop
Desmond Tutu, are both strong supporters of lesbian and gay human
rights. They are demonstrating inspiring leadership, showing that
freedom is for all Africans, not just heterosexual ones.
We also appreciate that Kofi Annan, a great Ghanaian world statesman,
defended LGBT human rights when he was United Nations General
Secretary. His extension of spousal benefits to the same-sex partners
of UN employees signified a clear rejection of homophobic
We urge you to affirm in word and deed that every Ghanaian, whatever
their sexual orientation, is equal before the law.
Coordinator, OutRage! London
African Affairs spokesperson, OutRage! London
The ban on same-sex relations violates international human rights law
The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights affirms the equality
of all people:
Article 2 states: “Every individual shall be entitled to the enjoyment
of the rights and freedoms recognized and guaranteed in the present
Charter without distinction of any kind such as race, ethnic group,
colour, sex, language, religion, political or any other opinion,
national and social origin, fortune, birth or other status.”
Article 3 states: “Every individual shall be equal before the law.
Every individual shall be entitled to equal protection of the law.”
Article 26 states: “Every individual shall have the duty to respect
and consider his fellow beings without discrimination, and to maintain
relations aimed at promoting, safeguarding and reinforcing mutual
respect and tolerance.”
In the historic, landmark 1994 legal case of Toonen v Australia, the
United Nations Human Rights Committee, which monitors the compliance
of member states with the International Covenant of Civil and
Political Rights (ICCPR), ruled that sexual orientation should be
understood to be a status protected from discrimination under these
ICCPR articles. States cannot therefore legitimately limit the
enjoyment of human rights on the basis of sexual orientation.
The UN Human Rights Committee has since urged states not only to
repeal laws criminalising homosexuality but to also enshrine the
prohibition of discrimination based on sexual orientation into their
constitutions or other fundamental laws.