For years now Ghana has styled itself as sort of an Israel for Blacks. Just as Israel presents itself as a destination and homeland for every Jew throughout the world, Ghana likes people to think of it like a home away from home for the African Diaspora. The African nation takes their enticement so seriously, in fact, that they’ve long considered allowing African-Americans to have dual citizenship. Though the government has yet to follow through on its goal to one day provide a legal home for international Blacks, at least one Black American does hold both an American passport and a Ghanaian passport.
If you don’t know, Ghana was once a major channel for African slavery, a memory Ghanaians do not take lightly. "We want Africans everywhere, no matter where they live or how they got there, to see Ghana as their gateway home," J. Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey, Ghana's tourism minister, told the New York Times in 2005. "We hope we can help bring the African family back together again."
Ghana’s move to bring farflung Africans back together is, in many ways, beautiful, which is why their latest bit of controversial legislation is so sad. This week, following a news report that noted a rise in homosexual relationships, a minister in charge of Ghana’s oil-rich Western sector called on the government to arrest gays and lesbians. There is currently no distinct law against homosexuality in Ghana, a very Christian nation, but there is a precedent for people being arrested for having gay sex (it happened most recently in Ghana in 2003).
Thankfully, a human-rights lawyer told Reuters that people “should not be worried about it because it does not really mean anything within the context of the law.” Still, it’s easy to worry when a major official is saying that people should be arrested on the basis of who they are. What makes the pronouncement even sadder is that it calls into question the true openness of Ghana. Blacks from everywhere are apparently welcome—just as long as they’re not gay.
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