Adam Westbrook // ideas on digital storytelling and publishing

Gay in Ghana reaction

Posted in Uncategorized by Adam Westbrook on September 6, 2006

The cancellation of a Gay and Lesbian conference in Accra a week ago has sparked a good old debate, amongst gay people worldwide and in Africa – I thought I’d try to sum up some of the most interesting points.

Firstly, the Black Looks blog made a really interesting point, suggesting the conference never existed in the first place – it was a hoax:

local LGBT activists are not aware of the conference,” Sokari writes, “It seems to me that there is a possibility that the whole thing is a hoax to stir up anti gay feelings and undermine HIV/AIDS projects that cater to the needs of the LGBT community.

If this is the case then it’s worked. Also if it’s the case, then the BBC’s charming Accra stringer, Kwaku Sakyi-Addo should be looking into it.

Hoax or not, the conference scandal has also sparked a good debate on homosexuality in Africa. The BBC’s Have Your Say forum has been inundated with comments – several raising my point that in a religous country, it’s to some extent understandable, and that in the west, we shouldn’t we be sticking our oar in telling Ghanaian people what’s morally right or wrong by our standards.

  • “Why should Africa be forced to accept Western values? Are modern Western values better than other cultures? Perhaps their values are better than ours?” said Phil from Wales.
  • Kwame in New York made one of my favourite points about Africa: “Africa is a group of countries, and attitudes towards homosexuality differ. I’d never dare to come out in countries like Kenya or Nigeria, for example, but would find it easier in South Africa. The BBC really should know better than to lump all the countries into one!”
  • And Rachel from Kenya suggested that religion or not, persecution is against all moral codes: “Gay people exist and it goes without saying that cruelty to any human being is unacceptable. Africans are not about the persecution of Gay people we just dont encourage as an option on the list of lifestyle choices. In the past homosexuality within a family or community was dealt with quietly with no anger or hatred, it was just made clear that it was unacceptable.”

So the cancellation of the conference – whether it was ever genuine or not – has at least given the issue of homosexuality in Africa a fresh breath and a new light. I hope people keep commenting on it. And it also prompted one reader – worldofgold – to try and get something more than debate from writing:

“Are there any places in Accra / Tema where one can find gay men?
I have been here in Ghana since the last two months but other than a few money seekers and some white men, I havent been able to locate decent gay Ghanaians?” 

If anyone has any suggestions for worldofgold, I’d be happy to pass them on!

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2 Responses

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  1. Emmanuel.K.Bensah said, on September 8, 2006 at 12:18 pm

    it’s interesting he/she chose to remain anonymous;-)

  2. Alan said, on September 13, 2006 at 8:33 pm

    Have you been to The Maks, a great resource for gay issues across Africa? Here is the URL:

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