In my work as a lawyer, I have come across several heartbreaking stories of injustice: battered wives, abused children, innocent people incarcerated. But one story that has stuck with me is the story of a lesbian who was beaten to death in Accra. The media hardly covered her story and no one spoke up for her after she was gone. And yet, she too, was someone’s child.
Last week, as calls were made to jail and kill LGBTs (lesbians, gays etc.), I remembered her story. And, I wondered why people are so obsessed with LGBTs? LGBTs are not the reason why youth are hawking goods in our streets, why school children do not have chairs or why many cannot afford one square meal a day. How exactly does 2 grown women or men being attracted to each other affect the price of kenkey? People keep panicking about ‘gay marriage.’ Which gay person in Ghana has ever asked to get married?
It is sad that discussions about LGBTs are often riddled with myths. People insist that sexual orientation is a choice. But, if it is a choice, why would anyone choose to be gay in Africa where they can be killed? No one wakes up in the morning and decides to be attracted to the opposite sex or the same sex for that matter. It is something that comes naturally to everyone by the time they hit puberty. I have known since I was a child that I am bisexual. People claim LGBTs are ‘recruited’ and yet no one recruited me. People allege LGBTs are paid. So why am I struggling to finance my studies? On the contrary, writing openly about these issues may endanger my career and life but I must speak up for people like me who are persecuted.
People insist that homosexuality is alien to our culture and yet we have always had gays, lesbians etc. among us. We called them names like kojobesia. Centuries ago, anthropologists who visited Africa discovered homosexuals living here. And yet we all lived together in harmony. So why the sudden urgency to kill off our own brothers and sisters? Armed robbers rob people, Paedophiles rape children but how does a relationship between 2 mature, consenting adults harm you personally? Christianity, Islam, English and suits are alien to African culture. Yet people who love all these insist on stigmatizing homosexuals because of culture. Historically, some African societies used to kill albinos, twins and the disabled. Shall we revert to that also because of culture?
People claim to have a cure for homosexuality and this is simply not true. Why are they unable to explain exactly what this ‘cure’ entails? Where is the proof of their cure’s success? Scientists in the US and Europe spent centuries electrocuting LGBTs and injecting them with harmful hormones until they discovered that there is no cure for homosexuality because there is nothing wrong with it in the first place. Alan Turing, the father of computer science, was repeatedly injected with hormones to cure him till he took his own life prematurely. We lost one of the best brains in the world for no reason except that someone thought he needed to be fixed.
I almost died because of all the people that claimed I was an abomination. I remember all the deliverance and counseling sessions I attended for years, all the time spent weeping and praying for God to make me different. I remember the two suicide attempts that got me hospitalized. And I am so grateful to God for making me realize that I am loved and perfect just as I am. Once I accepted myself, the depression and suicide wishes vanished completely.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with homosexuality. The mere fact that you personally find it abhorrent does not make it abnormal. I cannot demand that everyone should abstain from okro soup just because I personally hate it. Countless reputable scientific, medical and psychiatric organizations have stated that homosexuality is natural and not a disease. This includes WHO and APA, which publishes a document used as a standard for classifying mental health diseases. The Ugandan National Academy of Sciences recently discovered, after intensive research, that homosexuality is normal. Meanwhile, over a 1500 species of animals engage in homosexual acts and a simple google search produces video clips of animals of the same sex mating. So why do people keep insisting ‘even animals don’t do it?’
Then there are those who want to jail homosexuals based on the Bible. The same book that calls homosexuality an ‘abomination’ also called eating shrimp and wearing mixed fabrics abominations- something many Ghanaians enjoy doing. Interestingly, Jesus never mentioned homosexuality but you know what he discussed at length? Adultery. Adultery is also listed in the 10 commandments while homosexuality is not. We know that in Africa, the rates of married men committing adultery is so high that wives have higher rates of HIV infection than single women. So why are there no campaigns to jail men who commit adultery? It is even more hilarious when some men who cheat on their wives hypocritically insist that LGBTs are unacceptable.
People of different sexual orientations have always been on this earth. Jailing us is ridiculous. How will locking up a gay man, in a place where there are only men, turn him straight? Killing us off will not make us vanish because there are children being born, even today, who are LGBT. Will you kill your child just because he/ she is gay, lesbian etc? My sexual orientation does not prevent me from working, paying taxes, assisting the underprivileged or helping Ghana become a great nation. Maybe it is time for us to practice tolerance and acceptance for those who are different from us instead of preaching divisiveness.
LL.B (Hons), KNUST, LL.M, Cornell University,
Member, Ghana Bar Association
PhD. Candidate, Queen’s Law Faculty,
HR Stuart Ryan Fellow