Gay In Ghana: Keeping Quiet In Yet Another African Nation

Ghana flag

Two weeks ago, we told you about the Top 10 worst countries to visit if you’re gay. Without even reading the post, you could see from the map that four of them – that’s a full 40 percent, based on math even you Melanie Griffith could perform – are in Africa: Uganda, Egypt, Nigeria, and Cameroon topped the list.

Having just returned from a jaunt to West Africa, we’ve got first-hand knowledge that, at the end of the day, we’re going to have to add Ghana to the list of no-fly zones. No, Ghana is probably not one of the worst nations out there for queers (in Iran, after all, they can kill you for the “crime”), but our intimate talks with Ghanaians during our stay revealed a single general theme: they don’t like the gays.

“It’s a disease,” was one comment. “[Gay people] are ignored,” was another. And because so much of the country is rooted in strict Christian and Muslim beliefs, “it’s a sin” became an all too a regular remark.

Since the educated classes in Ghana all speak English from an early age, we were able to have some pretty in depth conversations about their feelings toward gays. Most threw out the concept that gay people are born with a sexual preference, joining so many American conservatives with the belief that homosexuality is a choice. Still others made God’s will paramount, concluding that the Lord (whether it’s Jesus, God, or Allah) will punish the gays, so society shouldn’t condone them. (All this, of course, differs from our experience in Tanzania, where homosexuality is a crime and punishable, to our knowledge, by imprisonment.)

So are the feelings of Ghanaians toward gays a reason not to visit? Certainly not. We found plenty to do – shopping in the largest open-air market in West Africa, walking among the tree tops on a canopy walk, visiting a village built on stilts over a lake, tasting some amazing (and, sometimes, pretty terrible) food, and simply mingling among the locals – that didn’t touch upon sexual orientation.

But one thing did strike us: As we wrapped up our conversation with a new friend who spoke thoroughly about gays in Ghana, he remarked how, if nothing else, he’d at least like to talk to a gay person. And as we all know, progress begins with communication.

Earlier: Top 10 Worst Countries For Gays