By Melanie Nathan, January 31, 2024
Canada, similarly to the US government travel advisory of last year, has now issued an updated travel advisory for LGBTQI+ travelers, including allies, who intend to travel to Ghana, warning about increased violence and discrimination, at the time that Ghana's Parliament is in the amendment phase of a harsh new anti-Homosexuality Bill known as the Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill, aka The Family Values Bill.
Ghana has introduced new anti-homosexuality legislation in Parliament, which has already passed several readings and is in the amendment phase of its passage.
Ghana's Supreme Court dismissed a legal challenge seeking to block Parliament from passing this stringent anti-LGBT bill, paving the way for its ratification. Lawmakers in the West African nation have been debating a bill since August 2021 that would criminalize same-sex relations, being transgender and advocating LGBTQ rights. It seems at least 98% MPs are in favor. Passing the Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values bill would further reduce freedoms in Ghana where gay sex is already punishable with up to three years in jail. The new Bill may provide ten years in prison for simply identifying as LGBTQA, which includes identifying being an ally.
The Ghana updates reflect a pattern that emerges for African countries about to pass anti LGBT legislation: There is usually a surge in rhetoric by politicians, religious leaders, as well as enhanced discrimination and persecution, often leading to violence.
The update notes that LGBTQI+ people and their allies have been victims of violence and discrimination. LGBTQI+ travelers face increased risks to their safety since the “anti-LGBTI” bill was introduced in August 2021. Accordingly LGBTQI+ travelers should carefully consider the risks of traveling to Ghana.
Here is the full advisory:
Melanie Nathan of African Human Rights Coalition (AHRC), and a country conditions expert witness for LGBT asylum seekers from Ghana and other African countries, in the USA, goes a step further in the AHRC news page advising that LGBTQI+ people should not travel to Ghana at all. Canada in its warning fail to explicitly mention in the advisory that YOU TOO can go to jail for many year if the new law passes, merely for BEING or "holding out" as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, non binary and even an ally. This is more than a safety issue but also a loss of freedom issue. Notably many LGBTI Ghanaians are fleeing their own country for fear of the new law.
In general Canada notes the following:
Travel and your sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics
Foreign laws and customs related to sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics (SOGIESC) can be very different from those in Canada. As a result, you could face certain barriers and risks when you travel outside Canada. Research and prepare for your trip in advance to help your travels go smoothly.Before you goVisit the Travel Advice and Advisories pages for your destination countries. The “Laws and culture” tab may contain information on the laws and social customs that could affect 2SLGBTQI+ Canadians there.
Watch for laws that:criminalize same-sex activities and relationships criminalize people based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and sex characteristicsSome countries may use laws related to “vagrancy”, “public nuisance” or “public morals” to criminalize 2SLGBTQI+ people.Research the laws, safety recommendations and social customs related to sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics in your destination country. Some useful resources include:
MORE ABOUT GHANA AND THE NEW LAW AND ANTI GAY CLIMATE: HERE
Melanie Nathan, Executive Director of African Human Rights Coalition is a qualified country of origin expert witness in the United States and global immigration courts, providing expert written country conditions reports and testimony for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, non-binary, LGBTQI + asylum seekers from 20 African Countries, to include activists, allies and human rights defenders. Melanie also consults multinational corporations regarding briefings and policy for operations and issue impacted by anti-homosexuality laws and country conditions. Nathan@AfricanHRC.org