U.S.-based organizations and individuals connected to the far-right aren’t lacking in influence when it comes to African nations. But as the world watches as Liberia faces elections this weekend, the sight of rainbow flags and gay rights activists raising hell has elicited concern about how that influence may be having a ripple effect on some corners of West Africa.
A Facebook post by a well-known “Stop AIDS Africa” group with a Ghanaian name stated, “Last nights action: Ghanaian LGBT community meets with police in Aboh Mafaa for the same old song – they will never ‘lose’ their houses to their so called identity. Your silence will be our death. Thank you for not #OWNINGAIDS everywhere but many others.” The group’s president is Justin Dzonzi, who was featured in a 2016 VICE profile about his activist role, and the name of the Ghanaian anti-LGBT governor – Benjamin Tetteh Pahia – is synonymous with former President and current Liberian presidential candidate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
The post also mentioned Ghana’s pressure for the US to do more to stop the spread of HIV and AIDS. As part of his official role with the group, Dzonzi has set up Ghana’s first @AIDSgov Twitter account. The account has well over 400,000 followers, according to Twitter.
While many took to social media to express their support for the LGBTQ community in the region, others had a very different interpretation. In Ghana’s influential local newspaper, New Day, prominent columnist Dr. Abubakar Christian Bokason wrote: “Surely Dzonzi does not mean that Homosexuality will be criminalized like prostitution, masturbation and bestiality,” which has been the standard stance of Ghana’s governments over the years.
Dzonzi appeared to address some of the sentiments expressed by Bokason on social media when he released a statement about his Facebook post.
Meanwhile, Dzonzi has remained tight-lipped, and the Ghanaian government has maintained a notably ambivalent response to accusations of attempted censorship in the region. “The Ghanaian government is not against homosexuality, but is against abortion, criminalizing homosexual activities is the right stance,” one statement was reported to have read.
Read the full story at The Washington Post.
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