A Ghanaian court on Friday pushed back its ruling on a bail application for 21 detained LGBQTI+ activists, keeping them behind bars for at least four more days after two weeks in jail. LGBQTI+ people face widespread persecution in the West African nation where gay sex is punishable with up to three years imprisonment.
Community members have reported a crackdown by authorities and increased abuse by the public in recent months.
The 16 women and five men were arrested on 20 May at a hotel, a police statement said, alleging they had gathered to advocate LGBQTI+ activities with books and flyers with titles including, “Coming out” and “All about Trans.”
Rights groups say the arrest was unlawful. The activists had met for a training about how to document and report human rights violations, said the organisation LGBQTI+ Rights Ghana.
The district court of Ho said there would be a ruling on whether or not to grant bail on 8 June.
Ghana has not prosecuted anyone for same-sex relations in years, but LGBQTI+ people face frequent abuse and discrimination, including blackmail and attacks, human rights researchers say.
The recent crackdown began in February after LGBQTI+ Rights Ghana opened the country’s first LGBQTI+ community centre. It was forced to close after three weeks after an uproar from church groups, politicians and anti-gay rights organisations.
The events stirred up homophobic sentiment and emboldened a group of lawmakers who want to criminalise the promotion of LGBQTI+ rights in the country, according to community members and activists.