Lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LBTI) people’s rights are heavily suppressed in Ghana, and therefore they face significant challenges in accessing opportunities and government services. Consensual same-sex conduct is illegal through the imposition of the Ghanian Criminal Code of 1960; Section 104 of the Code contains provisions criminalising consensual same-sex sexual acts between males. Under Section 104(1)(b) “unnatural carnal knowledge” with consent is considered a misdemeanour.
Ghana does not recognise same-sex marriages or same-sex civil unions, but voted in favour of the 2017 UN resolution that condemned countries that use the death penalty as a punishment for consensual same-sex relations. There is also no legal recognition provided to transgender people in Ghana. There is no legal policy framework for intersex people’s rights.
The CEDAW Committee did not provide any SOGIESC-focused recommendations to Ghana in 2015. The List of Issues also did not have any LBTI-inclusive questions.
Other general recommendations by the Committee that can apply to LBTI people include:
(a) to intensify efforts to prevent and systematically punish all forms of violence against women and girls;
(b) to ensure that there is effective implementation of Domestic Violence Act, 2007 and that victims of domestic abuse have full access to protection orders and legal remedies instead of mediation;
(c) to ensure the effective implementation of the Human Trafficking Act, 2005, including through the swift adoption of enabling legislation, and addressing the root causes of trafficking amongst women and girls;
(d) to provide full access to support for victims of trafficking, including provision of alternative income opportunities and rehabilitation to women who want to â€œleave prostitution”;
(e) to increase access for women and girls, in particular rural women, to basic health-care services, including SRHR and safe abortion techniques.
The last submitted State party report was in 2005 and contained no information on LBTI constituencies. Ghana’s environment is not safe for LBTI persons – Same-sex “conduct” is already illegal in Ghana, but MPs introduced a sweeping new anti-LGBTQ+ draft bill in 2021 that would fully criminalise LGBTQ+ people, along with rights groups and anyone coming out in their support. The bill is under review by a parliamentary committee and may yet be amended. If passed in its current form, rights groups say it could spark a witch-hunt of sexual minorities, advocacy groups and “allies”, forcing the public to report on their activities. The law would allegedly criminalise, with up to five years in prison, anyone identifying as a LGBTQ+ person, having a gay relationship or intercourse. A clause targets intersex people, and would allow the state to recommend “corrective therapy” or surgery.