*Idris Elba and supermodel Naomi Campbell are among the Black celebrities and politicians in the United Kingdom who signed a letter on Monday condemning Ghana’s stance on gay rights.
The letter comes after police officials in the country shut down a center in Accra for the LGBTQ+ community, CNN reported. The community center opened in January and attracted a lot of anger among locals from the start.
“We are in awe of your strength, your bravery, and your audacity to be true to who you are even when it is dangerous to do so. You are loved, you are important and you deserve a safe place to gather in your shared experience. In recent weeks we have watched with profound concern as you have had to question the safety of your vital work at the LGBT+ Rights Ghana center in Accra, and feared for your personal wellbeing and security,” the letter read.
“It is unacceptable to us that you feel unsafe. Even though at present you might be feeling alone and cornered, we want to assure you that we are here. We are watching and listening and we will use our collective power to shield you and raise you up. Neither the raid on Feb. 24, nor any other acts of intimidation have the power to break your indomitable spirits,” it added.
We have signed a letter calling on His Excellency, The President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, to reach out to LGBTQ leaders “to create a pathway for allyship, protection and support.”
— UK BLACK PRIDE (@ukblackpride) March 1, 2021
“We have watched with profound concern as you have had to question the safety of your vital work at the LGBT+ Rights Ghana Centre in Accra, and feared for your personal wellbeing and security. It is unacceptable to us that you feel unsafe,” the letter said.
“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,” it added.
The letter was signed by U.K. politicians including Diane Abbott and artists Virgil Abloh and Amma Asante.
Gay sex is a criminal offense in Ghana and comes with a sentence of up to 25 years in prison. Sarah Adwoa Sarfo, minister-designate for Gender, Children and Social Protection, said the laws against same-sex relationships are not up for debate.
“The issue of LGBT is an issue that when mentioned creates some controversy, but what I want to say is that our laws are clear on such practices. It makes it criminal…to have unnatural carnal knowledge with another person,” Sarfo said in a video during her confirmation hearing on February 17.
“On the issue of its criminality, it is non-negotiable, on the issue of cultural acceptance and norms, these practices are also frowned upon. For me, these are two distinct clarity on the matter and this is what I strongly stand for,” she added.