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Lesbian, bisexual women and transgender men are frequently victims of domestic violence.While Pearl’s story of being subjected to a mob assault for being a lesbian is horrific, violence against this group of women in Ghana often takes place in the privacy of their own homes–the place where they ought to feel the most secure.The retention of section 104(1)(b) – commonly referred to as the anti-gay law – is often seen as tacit state approval of discrimination, and even violence, on the basis of real or imputed sexual orientation and gender identity.The law also contributes to a social environment in which there is pervasive violence against lesbian, bisexual and gender non-conforming women in the home and LGBT people more generally in communities where they live.It documents the human rights impact of section 104(1)(b) of the 1960 Criminal Offences Act (Act 29) on the lives of LGBT people in Ghana.Despite the rare, if any, prosecutions under this provision, Human Rights Watch found that the criminalization of adult consensual same-sex conduct contributes to a climate in which violence and discrimination against LGBT people is common.

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.The two young women were forced to flee the village.Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Ghanaians interviewed by Human Rights Watch said that the combination of the criminalization of adult consensual same-sex conduct and the profoundly religious and socially conservative Ghanaian context has an insidious effect on their individual self-expression.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.Many LGBT Ghanaians told Human Rights Watch that their lives have been torn apart because of the stigma associated with homosexuality; the fear of violence perpetrated by family members and others in the community and homelessness, should their sexual orientation be disclosed.

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