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UN Special Procedures condemn arbitrary arrest of Ghanaian LGBTI human rights defenders

A group of seven UN Special Procedures has condemned yesterday the arrest of 21 human rights defenders (HRDs) and called the government of Ghana for their immediate and unconditional release.

The 21 HRDs of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) rights were arrested in Ho, Volta region, on May 20 while they were holding a human rights training for the protection of the rights of sexual minorities. They were charged with unlawful assembly under section 202 of the Ghanaian Criminal Code and denied bail a number of times by the Ho Circuit Court.

According to the police, the activities carried out by the 21 HRDs constituted “promotion of homosexuality.” While section 104 of the Ghanaian Criminal Code criminalize same-sex sexual acts under the provision on “unnatural carnal knowledge,” the detention of the 21 HRDs is unlawful and contravenes to international and regional human rights treaties that Ghana has ratified, as well as to the provisions of the Ghanaian constitution, particularly article 21 protecting the rights to freedom of association, assembly and expression.

The UN experts highlighted that “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.”

Resolution 275 on Protection against Violence and other Human Rights Violations against Persons on the basis of their real or imputed Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity adopted by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in 2014 specifically calls member states “to ensure that human rights defenders work in an enabling environment that is free of stigma, reprisals or criminal prosecution as a result of their human rights protection activities, including the rights of sexual minorities.”

Click here to read the press release.