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Many interviewees said they constantly struggle with the stress associated with hiding their sexuality, thus living double lives, to stay safe.

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In mid-September 2009, the District Chief Executive in my town called me for a meeting…I was taken to the conference room and made to sit in the middle of about 50 people. One police officer kicked me with his boot on my mouth, said I shouldn’t talk. A youth boy put a car tire around my neck and poured petrol over my body, ready to burn me.

They took me outside, dragging me and beating me at the same time.

Most lesbian and bisexual women told Human Rights Watch that they have no choice but to hide their sexuality from their family members and that they are expected to marry men and have children, thereby conforming to family and societal expectations.

A young woman from Kumasi said that when her family suspected she was a lesbian, they took her to a prayer camp where she was severely beaten over a period of one month to “cure” her of her “deviant” sexuality.

It criminalizes “unnatural carnal knowledge” in section 104 (1) (b) of its Criminal Offences Act, which the authorities interpret as “penile penetration of anything other than a vagina.” However, the law is a colonial legacy that is rarely, if ever, enforced, and unlike several of its neighbors, Ghana has not taken steps in recent years to stiffen penalties against consensual same-sex conduct or to expressly criminalize sexual relations between women.

At least two government agencies, the Ghana Police Force and the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), have reached out to LGBT people and taken proactive steps, including through providing human rights training workshops to help ensure their protection.

In one high-profile case, Accra police arrested a suspect in a vicious mob attack against a gay man in August 2015—but his case has still not gone to trial, leading LGBT people to question whether it is futile to seek justice in the aftermath of homophobic and transphobic violence.

While the police effectively investigated the case, the prosecutor who was assigned to the case in the Fast Track Court in Accra failed to appear in court. Despite its status as a liberal democracy, with a constitution that guarantees fundamental human rights to all its citizens, a relatively responsive police force, and an independent national human rights institution, the government has consistently rejected calls by United Nations bodies, including the Human Rights Council during the Universal Periodic Review of Ghana’s human rights record, to repeal the law against “unnatural carnal knowledge.” Ghanaian society is also very religious.

Also, several men described being severely beaten by mobs of young men—often after being lured into compromising situations and blackmailed on social media.

In May 2016 in a village outside Kumasi in the Ashanti region, the mother of a young woman organized a mob to beat up her daughter and another woman because she suspected they were lesbians and in a same-sex relationship.

All the interviewees said that they either felt they had little choice but to adopt self-censoring behavior, or worse, deny their sexual orientation or gender identity to avoid suspicion by family members and the communities in which they live.

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