Australia’s man in Ghana reportedly recalled over support for LGBTI people

Australia’s High Commissioner to Ghana, Gregory Andrews, is ending his time in the role and returning to Australia. Local media are reporting his recall is due to his support for LGBTI people in the West African nation.

Andrews departure was announced on the Embassy’s Facebook page with a message saying Andrews and his family would leave Ghana this week and return to Australia. Local media have attributed his departure to his vocal support of LGBTI people.

As High Commissioner Andrews mandate was to represent Australian interests in Ghana and other Africa nations including Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo. Andrews was the first Indigenous Australian to take up the role, he took up the role in 2020 and is departing after less than two years.

Local media claim they have cited a letter from Ghana’s Australian High Commissioner Dr. Joseph Agoe that states “the posture of H.E Gregory Andrews concerning the promotion of LGBTQ+ affairs was at variance with responsibilities of a High Commissioner/Ambassador and the dignity that comes with the position”.

Andrews reportedly attended the opening of a Gay and Lesbian Community Centre in the capital city of Accra in Late February. Shortly after the centre opened it was raided by police and closed down. The move sent LGBTQ+ people in the country into hiding.

Homosexuality is illegal in Ghana and while there are rarely prosecutions a conviction can result in up to three years imprisonment. LGBT people are regularly persecuted, discriminated and discriminated against.

In May a local politician threatened violence against Gregory Andrews. Politician Samuel Nartey George told local media that he would “beat” Australia’s representative if he continued to voice support for the decriminalization on homosexuality.

“I warned him that I’ll beat him in this town.” George said. When the interviewer challenged him on his statement George responded. “Why can’t I do that? If he decides not to behave like a diplomat, I will treat him like a non-diplomat.”

The United Nations Rapporteur’s 2018 Human Rights Report recommended that Ghana repeal its legislation on adult consensual same-sexual activities, and that the government launch a public campaign to educate on the rights and legal and social services of those who are victims of sexual discrimination. It found that while poverty in Ghana was widespread, LGBT people were almost guaranteed to be living in poverty, because they could not find work and were often shunned by their families.

Despite international calls for Ghana to treat it’s LGBT citizens better in 2021 a new bill was put forward to add further discriminations against LGBTI people. The 2021 ‘Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill’ calls for public displays of affection between the same sex to result in imprisonment, makes it illegal to form any LGBTI organisations, and people deemed to be LGBT would be sent to mandatory conversion therapy treatments.

The bill also makes it illegal for a person to say they identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, and advocacy for LGBTIQ rights could result in a five year jail term. It also bans same sex marriage and adoption of children.

Last week parliamentarians debated the bill they heard from Moses Foh-Amoaning, the Executive Secretary of the National Coalition for Proper Human Rights and Family Values, who compared homosexuality to kleptomania and schizophrenia – saying all were psychological problems.

“They are mad, and if the mental health determines that these people are unwell the laws gives them the power to restrain such people.” Foh-Amoaning said. The lobbyist said that reports that the bill had lead to increased violence against LGBT people should be dismissed, saying any suggestion that people faced increased violence was simply gay propaganda.

Dr Akwasi Osei, the CEO of the State’s Mental Health Authority, also voiced his support for the bill arguing that same sex attraction can be treated by hormone replacement therapy. Osei said homosexuality is a mental condition. The World Health Organisation removed homosexuality from it’s official list of mental disorders  in 1990.

A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed that Gregory Andrews would be heading home.

“Australia’s High Commissioner to Ghana will conclude his posting on 20 December.” the spokesperson told OUTinPerth.

“Decisions on timings for Australian Heads of Missions are made by the Australian Government based on a variety of factors including the Department’s operational requirements and host government considerations.”

Graeme Watson

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