Ghana’s Secret Society
Homosexuality is illegal in Ghana, and a leading international travel guide states that “a gay scene in Ghana does not exist.” Yet gay men and lesbians are becoming increasingly visible in the capital, Accra. Fow Winq’s brand-new World section, David McGillivray travelled to Ghana to find out how this is possible.
On Accra’s underground gay scene:
In and around Accra it’s almost impossible for a gay man not to be aware of a vibrant gay scene. But put gay rights, Pride parades and homo culture out of your heads. Ghana’s gay scene is that of the West prior to decriminalisation. Homosexuality is endemic in Ghanaian society, but it’s rarely discussed. A sizeable proportion of husbands and fathers lead secret gay lives. The underground circuit of bars is known only to the gay community. It’s a shock to step back in time; but as many men who knew the British gay scene when homosexuality was illegal will affirm, it’s also rather exciting.
On the realities of being gay in Ghana:
For many years it has been possible to be gay in Ghana as long as men don’t do it in the streets and frighten the horses. There has been only one major prosecution and that came about because of the carelessness of one of the men involved. In 2007 a British holidaymaker behaved suspiciously at Kotoka Airport in Accra and his luggage was searched. It contained photos of the man and his Ghanaian lover having sex. They had no option but to plead guilty to unnatural carnal knowledge. They were lucky to escape with fines.
On changing attitudes towards homosexuality:
Unless you’re over 70 and have fond memories of waiting for the police to pounce while you were fumbling on London’s Hampstead Heath, it’s unlikely that you will regard the political situation in Ghana as ideal. But equally, Ghana is not the worst country in Africa to be gay. “People are happy to be gay,” Amango assures me. And in the “gay-friendly” bars of Accra I found no one to contradict him. Ghana is moving towards, not away from, LGBT+ equality.