ADDED ON: 03/26/2022

The media disinformation campaign against Ghana’s queer community

3/24/22 | Mamba Online

When Ako* heard that an LGBTIQ community centre was going to open in the Ghanaian capital, Accra, the first thing she did was get herself a date. And then matching outfits. Calling an Uber on the day of the opening, she entered the words ‘LGBT community centre’ – and there it was. In a city of grand mosques and megachurches, there was a tiny point on the map that she felt recognised that she exists and deserves care. Attending the opening event made her feel as high as she has ever felt. “For the first time, I didn’t have to pretend about who I am,” she said. But a couple of days later, friends were frantically calling and texting. Was she safe? Her picture had been on TV. Someone said they had seen a poster in her neighbourhood castigating gay people. Did she need them to come over and escort her when she needed to leave the apartment? She called her father, who was already aware that she was queer, to warn him in case something happened to her. Foreign diplomats who attended the opening ceremony had shared pictures on social media. Ghanaian media had picked them up. And now her face, mercifully half-covered by a mask, was showing up on TV stations, in broadcasts that expressed shock and outrage that LGBTIQ people existed in Ghana and that they had opened a centre through which to support each other. The journalists in question, along with other anti-LGBTIQ campaigners, called for the closing of this centre. Eventually, police raided it and shut it down. Ako recounts this story a year later, in late February 2022, at a small gathering for LGBTIQ people on a humid Accra evening. One of those present described how there has been “a whole year of hate and violence, especially on the airwaves”, since the incident.

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