21 LGBTQ+ Advocates Granted Bail By Ho Court

FILE PHOTO: People who were detained by police on suspicion of promoting an LGBT+ agenda at an unlawful assembly arrive at a court for a bail hearing in Ho, Volta Region, Ghana June 4, 2021. REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko

The Ho High Court has granted bail to some 21 persons suspected of identifying with the LGBTQ+ community, in the Volta Regional capital, Ho.

The accused persons were arrested on March 20 for unlawful assembly at the Nurses and Midwives Hotel for a conference. They were slapped with a bail sum of GHs 5,000.

The 16 females and five males are also expected to submit a valid ID to the court.

The accused persons are believed to be from the Greater Accra, Ashanti, Upper East, Upper West, Western, Eastern, Northern and Volta regions.

Lawyers for the accused had proceeded to the Ho High Court after a Circuit Court refused their clients bail. But, on their first attempt, the Ho High Court also denied them bail on grounds that the prosecution was still investigating.

The group, together with their lawyers came back to the Ho Circuit Court where the substantive case was being tried but Judge Justice Felix Dadzomor referred them back to the High Court.

This time around, the Ho High Court judge, Justice Yaw Owoahene-Acheampong, heard their plea and granted them bail. The prosecution did not challenge this/

The substantive case would, however, be heard by the Circuit Court on June 16, 2021.

In February, the LGBTQ+ community came under the spotlight after national security officers locked up an apartment serving as an office for LGBTQI+ Rights Ghana in Accra.

This caused a stir with human rights advocates frowning on such activities, while churches, the Islamic community, and traditional leaders backed the government’s decision against the legalisation of LGBTQ+.

Earlier calls for their release

On June 4, United Nations (UN) human rights experts entreated the government to release 21 suspected LGBTQI persons who were arrested for unlawful assembly.

In a statement condemning the arrest and alleged arbitrary detention of the persons, the UN experts said the 21 were arrested for “defending the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender diverse (LGBTQI) community”.

“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.

“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 UN’s independent human rights experts said.

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