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Idris Elba, Naomi Campbell sign open letter to support Ghanaian LGBTQ community

Idris Elba, Naomi Campbell and other high-profile celebrities, politicians and influential figures of Ghanaian heritage have signed an open letter in support of Ghana’s queer community after an LGBTQ+ center was shut down by police last week.

The open letter published by The Guardian, saw the celebrities express absolute disapproval of the suppression of the LGBTQ+ community in Ghana. Signed also by Vogue editor-in-chief Edward Enninful, the letter expressed trepidation and disapproval at how the group LGBTQ+ Rights Ghana, which recently opened on January 3, has been treated. 

The new LGBTQ+ center was caught in the middle of a heated public fallout, and was eventually forcibly closed by national security officials on February 24. The open letter called on the president of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, to protect the country’s LGBTQ+ community.

“We have watched with profound concern as you have had to question the safety of your vital work at the LGBTQ+ Rights Ghana Centre in Accra, and feared for your personal wellbeing and security,” the letter reads.

“It is unacceptable to us that you feel unsafe. As prominent and powerful advocates for this great country, we are beseeching his excellency, the president of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and political/cultural leaders to create a pathway for allyship, protection and support. We petition for inclusivity which will make the nation even greater and even stronger.”

Also in support to Ghana’s LGBTQ+ community, Black Lives Matter UK called out at the state’s “aggressive” response to the opening of an LGBTQ+ centre. “We stand with all oppressed queer and transgender people across Africa and the world,” Black Lives Matter UK said in the statement.

“As queer women founded BLM, an attack on the LGBTQ+ community in Ghana is an attack against all of us. We want our courageous Ghanian family to know that we are with you. Your struggle is our struggle.”

Black Lives Matter UK said that the world experienced a “historic and beautiful moment of hope” when the LGBTQ+ centre was opened in January, and praised activists for their “proud and bold stance against widespread homophobia”Ghana.

“The aggressive reaction from police, Catholic bishops and high levels of government was shocking,” the organization said. Black Lives Matter UK said it rejects the notion that LGBTQ+ rights were brought into Ghana from overseas — a very inaccurate idea held by political leaders in African countries that criminalize queer people. However, that notion is extremely false. 

“In fact, LGBT+ rights are anti-colonial in nature. In the land now known as Ghana, queer people and practices have always been present,” the group wrote. They then go on to say that homophobia is another colonial import. 

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