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Ho: Court frees 21 LGBT members

The Ho High Court has dismissed a case against 21 people who were arrested in May while attending a meeting for Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT+) activists.

Prosecutors said they’d been advised there wasn’t enough evidence to prove the 16 women and five men had gathered illegally.

The lawyer for the accused welcomed the decision.

“It has been a rough journey since May but thankfully the law has spoken,” said Julia Ayertey.

On May 20, 2021, the Volta Regional Police Command arrested 21 young Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) activists in Ho.

The accused persons, comprising 16 women and 5 men, were arrested after Police invaded a hotel where a conference on human rights was ongoing.

Various groups including the Centre for Democratic Development had condemned the arrest of the activists.

UN human rights experts in June called for the immediate release of the 21 lesbians, gay, bisexual, trans gender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) in Ghana.

A statement issued by the UN experts on Friday 4 June condemned the arrest and detention of the suspects, describing the act as “discriminatory”.

“We are deeply concerned by the arrests of the human rights defenders. All evidence available to us points to the fact that they were detained while they were peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association,” the statement said.

It added: “Human rights defenders play a key role in protecting vulnerable groups from violence and discrimination and empowering them to claim their human rights. Ghana should ensure that no one is criminalized for defending the fundamental rights of LGBT people.”

The experts also pointed out that the root of the arrests allegedly lies in the criminalization of consensual same-sex conduct.

The suspects, made up of 16 females and five males, were rounded up at a workshop, a statement from the police said.

This is the third time in three months that the police have clamped down on the activities of LGBTQI in the country.

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