The UN human rights experts on Friday condemned the arrest and alleged arbitrary detention of 21 people defending the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender diverse (LGBT) community.

On 20 May 2021, Ghananian police arrested 21 human rights defenders (16 women and five men) who were conducting paralegal training for the protection of the human rights of sexual minorities in Ho, Ghana. They were remanded in police custody by the Ho Circuit Court and charged with unlawful assembly.

“We are deeply concerned by the arrests of the human rights defenders. All evidence available to us points to the fact that they were detained while they were peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association,” said the experts.

“Human rights defenders play a key role in protecting vulnerable groups from violence and discrimination and empowering them to claim their human rights. Ghana should ensure that no one is criminalised for defending the fundamental rights of LGBT people.”

The experts also pointed out that the root of the arrests allegedly lies in the criminalisation of consensual same-sex conduct. In Ghan, same-sex sexual activity falls under the definition of “unnatural carnal knowledge”, under section 104 of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960, which imposed a maximum penalty of three years’ imprisonment.

“Detention on discriminatory grounds, including for combating violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, is arbitrary by its own nature and violates international human rights law. The Government of Ghana must release them immediately and unconditionally,” the experts said.

Source: Daily Mail GH