The United States embassy in Ghana has warned LGBTQI+ travellers to the country that they face an increased risk of violence and arrest.
The advisory, updated on November 20, urges visitors to exercise heightened caution due to rising crime and violence against the LGBTQI+ community in the West African nation.
The embassy noted that Ghanaian law contains prohibitions on “unlawful carnal knowledge”, which is generally interpreted as any kind of sexual intimacy between persons of the same sex, and punishments can include fines and/or incarceration.
The embassy added that “Anti-LGBTQI+ rhetoric and violence have increased in recent years” and that “Members of the LGBTQI+ community have reported safety incidents that include targeted assault, rape, mob attacks, and harassment due to their identity.”
The advisory also highlights general safety concerns with regard to civil unrest in some parts of the country, as well as violent crimes such as carjacking and street mugging, which often happen at night and in isolated locations.
Travellers were warned to be especially cautious in urban areas and crowded markets when travelling by private or public transportation after dark, and in areas near the northern border in the Upper East and Upper West regions.
Proposed anti-LGBTQI+ legislation heightens concerns
In July, the Parliament of Ghana overwhelmingly supported a bill to severely crack down on the LGBTQI+ community, heightening anti-LGBTQI+ sentiment in the country.
Although it is not yet law, the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill seeks to not only criminalise all LGBTQI+ people in Ghana but also make it illegal to advocate for LGBTQI+ rights in any way, with a potential prison sentence of up to ten years.
Merely identifying as LGBTQI+ or as an LGBTQI+ ally would carry a penalty of three to five years in prison.
The bill would further outlaw any medical gender affirmation treatment, gay adoption, and same-sex marriage, as well as prohibit transgender individuals from getting married.
Under Ghana’s existing Criminal Code, consensual same-sex sexual relations are already criminalised with up to three years in prison.