Homosexuality isn't alien to Ghanaian society

An often-repeated argument in the ongoing resistance to gay rights advocacy in Ghana is that ‘gayness’ is alien to Ghanaian culture. Critics of gay rights advocacy in Ghana suggest that the practice is a foreign import.

The variety of people making this claim in churches, streets, marketplaces, parliament and cabinet meetings is remarkable. In 2006, the Spectator, a Ghanaian newspaper, interviewed Ghanaians on their views on homosexuality. Almost all the respondents responded in the negative and branded homosexuality as foreign. Aaron Mike Oquaye, a former speaker of the Ghanaian Parliament, said Ghanaians are “increasingly becoming fed up with external forces trying to force alien cultures on them”. Arthur Kennedy, another influential politician in Ghana, claimed to not understand why advocates of gay rights are “forcing Africa to embrace homosexuality”. And just a few weeks ago, the president of the Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council, Paul Frimpong-Manso, called on the Ghanaian government to summon foreign diplomats supporting homosexuality.

I have researched the dynamics of gay rights advocacy in Ghana, and the evidence that I and others have gathered suggests that such ideas are misinformed. The anthropologist James Christenson, who published what is probably the first-ever study of homosexuality in Ghana in the 1950s, established that “men who have sex with men” were an integral, but obscured, part of Ghanaian culture and sexual relations. In my research, an elderly interviewee disclosed that the practice of supi and piu (by-words for gay and lesbian sex in Ghana) amongst students was not unheard of, especially in single-sex schools, when they were children in the 1970s.

The notion that same-sex relations simply ‘appeared’ in Ghana as a Western import or through contact with (white) foreigners is cast into further doubt by Dela Attipoe, a Ghanaian expert who has similarly studied the history of homosexuality in Ghana. He concluded that “It is not a recent phenomenon being visited on Ghana and Ghanaians by ‘whites’ or foreigners”, and that “It is practically happening everywhere, particularly where people gather for celebrations and merry making in urban areas, along with other places most people would never suspect.” A research participant of mine similarly exclaimed when I asked about the oft-stated view that ‘gayness’ is foreign to Ghanaians:

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Nana Agyeman | Radio Free (2021-12-02T01:07:37+00:00) » Homosexuality isn't alien to Ghanaian society. Retrieved from https://www.radiofree.org/2021/03/17/homosexuality-isnt-alien-to-ghanaian-society/.
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" » Homosexuality isn't alien to Ghanaian society." Nana Agyeman | Radio Free - Wednesday March 17, 2021, https://www.radiofree.org/2021/03/17/homosexuality-isnt-alien-to-ghanaian-society/
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Nana Agyeman | Radio Free Wednesday March 17, 2021 » Homosexuality isn't alien to Ghanaian society., viewed 2021-12-02T01:07:37+00:00,<https://www.radiofree.org/2021/03/17/homosexuality-isnt-alien-to-ghanaian-society/>
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Nana Agyeman | Radio Free - » Homosexuality isn't alien to Ghanaian society. [Internet]. [Accessed 2021-12-02T01:07:37+00:00]. Available from: https://www.radiofree.org/2021/03/17/homosexuality-isnt-alien-to-ghanaian-society/
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" » Homosexuality isn't alien to Ghanaian society." Nana Agyeman | Radio Free - Accessed 2021-12-02T01:07:37+00:00. https://www.radiofree.org/2021/03/17/homosexuality-isnt-alien-to-ghanaian-society/
IEEE
" » Homosexuality isn't alien to Ghanaian society." Nana Agyeman | Radio Free [Online]. Available: https://www.radiofree.org/2021/03/17/homosexuality-isnt-alien-to-ghanaian-society/. [Accessed: 2021-12-02T01:07:37+00:00]
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» Homosexuality isn't alien to Ghanaian society | Nana Agyeman | Radio Free | https://www.radiofree.org/2021/03/17/homosexuality-isnt-alien-to-ghanaian-society/ | 2021-12-02T01:07:37+00:00
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