Friday, July 22, 2011

Ghana moves to arrest all gays

Yes, really

Ghana’s Western Region Minister, Paul Evans Aidoo MP has ordered the immediate arrest of all homosexuals in the country’s west.

Aidooo has tasked Ghana’s Bureau of National Investigations and security forces to round up the country’s gay population and has called on landlords and tenants to inform on people they suspect of being homosexuals.

“All efforts are being made to get rid of these people in the society,” he said.

Its unclear at this stage whether there have in fact been any arrests, or whether it is just a government Minister using his position to spew homophobia. But its a horrifying prospect. Contrary to the Minister, its not actually against the law in Ghana to be gay. It is against the law to engage in "unnatural carnal knowledge" (which is defined in exclusively male terms; lesbians are fine), but that's pretty obviously not the same thing.

Sadly, Ghana's constitution and legal system do not protect against this sort of systematic oppression. Neither does international law. Even if he started rounding up gays, putting them in camps, and murdering them, he'd still be fine, because current international law protects only "national, ethnical, racial or religious" groups (Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide) or "political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, [and] gender" groups (Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court). Sexual orientation is not a protected characteristic, and persecuting or even murdering people because of it is not yet illegal in international law. This is something that we have to change.