A Ho Circuit Court, presided over by Justice Felix Datsomor, has acquitted and discharged 21 persons alleged to be members of the LGBTQI+ community.
The 21 were arrested at Ho in the Volta Region on Thursday, 20 May 2021.
They were subsequently arraigned and charged with unlawful assembly.
According to a statement issued by the police, the suspects, drawn from Greater Accra, Ashanti, Upper East, Upper West, Eastern, Northern and the Volta regions, converged on the Nurses and Midwives Hotel in Ho on Thursday, 20 May 2021, to advocate LGBTQI rights.
The suspects, including 16 females and 5 males, were then remanded into police custody on Friday, 21 May 2021.
They were granted bail of GHS5,000 with one surety each on 11 June 2021.
Some LGBTQI+ books and flyers were retrieved upon preliminary investigations.
The case was thrown out because Chief Superintendent Akolgo Yakubu Ayamga, at the hearing today, Thursday, 5 August 2021, said the Senior State Attorney had noted that there was insufficient evidence to substantiate the charge and had, accordingly, advised that the case be struck out, and the accused persons discharged.
Justice Datsomor cited the advice from the AG, which he received in a letter dated 2 August 2021, and struck out the case based on the strength of the prosecutor’s submission.
This comes at a time when an anti-gay bill titled the ‘Promotion of Proper human sexual rights and Ghanaian family values, 2021’, which seeks to criminalise LGBTQI+ activities in the country, is currently before Parliament.
The private members’ bill is being championed by eight members of parliament, namely;
Sam George (MP, Ningo-Prampram)
Della Sowah (MP, Kpando)
Emmanuel Bedzrah (MP, Ho West)
John Ntim Forjour (MP, Assin South)
Alhassan Suhuyini (MP, Tamale North)
Rita Sowah (MP, La Dadekotopon)
Helen Ntoso (MP, Krachi West)
Rockson-Nelson Dafeamekpor (MP, South Dayi)
The 36-page document is to ensure proper human sexual rights and Ghanaian family values; proscribe LGBTQ+ and related activities; proscribe propaganda of, advocacy for or promotion of LGBTTQQIAAP+ and related activities; provide for the protection of and support for children, persons who are victims or accused of LGBTTQQIAAP+ and related activities.
Among other things, the bill says people of the same sex who engage in sexual intercourse are “liable on summary conviction to a fine of not less than seven hundred and fifty penalty units and not more than five thousand penalty units, or to a term of imprisonment of not less than three years and not more than five years or both.”
It covers any person who “holds out as a lesbian, a gay, a transgender, a transsexual, a queer, a pansexual, an ally, a non-binary or any other sexual or gender identity that is contrary to the binary categories of male and female.”