Ghanaian court denies bail request of detained LGBT activists

People who were detained by police on suspicion of promoting an LGBT+ agenda at an unlawful assembly arrive at a court for a bail hearing in Ho, Volta Region, Ghana.

A Ghanaian court on Tuesday denied bail to 21 gay rights activists arrested nearly three weeks ago for what police described as an unlawful gathering, their lawyer said.

The 16 women and five men were told to reappear in court on June 16 for their next hearing. Some were seen weeping after the ruling in the southeastern city of Ho.

LGBT people face widespread persecution in the West African nation, where gay sex is punishable with up to three years imprisonment. Ghana has not prosecuted anyone for same-sex relations in years, but the LGBT community has reported a crackdown by authorities in recent months.

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The activists were arrested on May 20 at a hotel, police said in a statement at the time of their arrest. The statement accused them of having advocated LGBT activities with books and flyers with titles including “Coming out” and “All about Trans”.

The organisation LGBT+ Rights Ghana said there was no lawful reason for the arrests, and that the activists had met for a workshop on how to document and report human rights violations. Promoting LGBT rights is not illegal in Ghana.

Julia Selman Ayetey, a lawyer for the defendants, said that they were denied bail, without giving further details. The activists had already been denied bail at the Ho High Court before taking their application to the Circuit Court.

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