At about 2:00am on 26th June, 2022, 30 LGBTI+ persons were arrested at a party in a house at Gbawe in Accra, after a group of men forcefully entered the venue to beat and rob the attendees of their personal belongings, especially iPhones.
According to the victims, the violent group of men who trespassed their party venue, attacked them with machetes and sticks.
In an attempt to restore calmness and protect life and property, the police were called in. However, the men who were abusing the party attendees, told the police that the event was a “gay party.”
This led to the arrest of 29 persons who were men, however some of them escaped by jumping the wall of the house.
The 29 persons arrested were taken to the Gbawe North Police Station. They were held in an unoccupied female cell.
Some of them sustained injuries as a result of the rough and tumble situation during the attack by the homophobic men as well as the police.
Arrest and detention of a transgender woman
Around 2:24 AM, Ghanaian transgender musician, Angel Maxine called the Executive Director of Rightify Ghana to report a transgender woman’s situation, as she had been called by the victim to help make the payment to get her released. Because the money could not be paid, she was sent to the Gbawe Lafa Police Station.
It later emerged that she was also attending the party and her arrest brought the total number of detainees to 30. Even though she was not present at the party location, she was arrested on her way.
In a telephone conversation with Rightify Ghana from her cell, she recounted that “I was just about arriving at the location when I saw people running and I realized that something was wrong.”
“I told my Uber driver to quickly turn the car and leave the area immediately. But unfortunately, they noticed and chased us in a motorbike, until we stopped on a highway,” she added.
According to her, “a police officer told me that I should pay GH₵2, 000, so that they could free me. Otherwise, they would add me to the others who were arrested earlier.”
Surprisingly, she said the police officer found out that she is a transgender woman and said “I am bringing you to this police station so you can feel safe. I don’t want to infringe on your right and that is why you have been separated.”
However, the mother of the transgender woman was called by the police on the Sunday morning to inform her that your child has been arrested “so what do you want to do about it?”
The mother is already aware that her daughter is transgender and fully embraces her.
Actions taken by organizations
Early Sunday morning, a representative of Priorities On Rights and Sexual Health (PORSH) visited the Gbawe North police station and requested for access to ascertain if any of the detainees needed medical attention.
It emerged that some of the persons had sustained injuries and one of them couldn’t walk on his own.
Later that day, Queer Ghana Education Fund (QuGEF), WAPCAS and CEPEHRG, went to the two police stations with Lawyer Nahaja and Lawyer Maame Yaa Gyesi-Addo in an attempt to secure bail for the victims.
However, because the district commander, divisional commander and station officers were not around, so only one person received bail. He was the person who had injuries and could not walk on his own.
The transgender woman was also relocated from the Gbawe Lafa Police Station to join the remaining 28 at the Gbawe North Police Station.
On Monday, 27th June, 2022, Lawyer Martin Kpebu and Lawyer Hamdia from POS Foundation joined the two initial lawyers and they successfully reached a bail agreement with the police for all the 30 persons.
All the 30 persons received a ‘caution of unlawful assembly’ from the police.
Support for victims
Youth Alliance for Equality Foundation has partnered with other organizations to provide emergency safe housing for two weeks for some of the victims.
Following the incident, some of the victims have been outed to and disowned by their families and have been told not to return home.
Human rights organizations, human rights defenders and activists are calling on the Ghana Police Service to arrest and to prosecute the violent men for assault, trespassing, robbery and theft.
Also, the authorities of the Ghana Police Service should identify and punish officers who participated in the abuse, including those who allegedly demanded for a bride.