2012 Advocacy and Empowerment on LGBT Rights Accra LGBT Empowerment Workshop, 4th August 2012
As part of an Advocacy and Empowerment on LGBT Rights initiative aimed to empower members of the LGBT community to enforce their rights by arming them with information and strategies for rights protection, an Accra LGBT Empowerment Workshop was held on Saturday, 4th August 2012. The day started with a welcome address and participant introductions, which included setting of ground rules such as using “I” statements and keeping open minds. Next, the Minority Rights Officer of HRAC facilitated an activity in which participants were asked to share their expectations.
Presentation on LGBT Around the World
As an introduction to the topic of LGBT rights and as a basis for contextualization, an HRAC intern delivered a presentation on LGBT rights and attitudes around the world. The presentation was aimed at giving a snapshot of LGBT rights in a number of countries in each region, in order to demonstrate the progress that has been made and gaps that still exist in legislation. This presentation ultimately provided a broader outlook for participants to better understand the situation occurring in Ghana, and included information on the status of homosexual marriage laws and discrimination in different countries.
To encourage discussion and honest dialogue, attendees were split into groups, each led by an HRAC facilitator, in which they were given different reports by African media outlets. These reports were intended to serve as a springboard for discussion, and resulting conversations demonstrated the discord that exists between reality and what is reported. This activity provoked personal story sharing and reflection. Article topics ranged from an overview of homophobic demonstrations in James Town to an editorial by a prominent religious leader who denounced homosexuality.
Presentation on Sexuality and Self-Identification
Next, a presentation was given by a visiting PhD student on the topics of sexuality and self-identification. It focused on the blurring of lines between sex and gender, along with the differences in cultural understanding of sex between the Western world and Ghana. Another major focus of the presentation was the idea of self-identity, and the need or desire to be strategic with gender presentation. The topic of personal security while living with an open identity as an LGBT person was central to this presentation.
Presentation on the Rights of LGBT Persons
HRAC’s Executive Director then gave a presentation that cemented the message of the workshop: all Ghanaians, irrespective of their sexual identity or orientation, have the same rights. She explained that basic human rights are enshrined by the UN Declaration of Human Rights, to which Ghana is a signatory, in addition to the 1992 Constitution. Throughout the presentation, several participants shared their own experiences of human rights violations and commented on public harassment and physical assault that they or friends have experienced.
Presentation on Community Channeling and Closing
Finally, an HRAC facilitator ended the workshop with a call to share the information learned with others, and identified a number of local mechanisms for reporting human rights violations. Contact information for institutions that participants may use in the event of abuse was distributed, and other organizations that work to protect human rights were mentioned. Participants were thanked for attending and additional resources were distributed. The day was well received, and HRAC looks forward to putting on other such workshops in the future.