Blog, Press, Events

ILGA World Conference 2022.  Held 2-6 May 2022, Long Beach, California. 

IDNOWA Executive Director Davis Mac-Iyalla and Project Assistant Daniel  Uchechkwu represented the network at the world conference. 

The ILGA World Conference is a place to assess where our communities stand, share experiences and best practices, build alliances and partnerships, discuss the future of our movement, and collectively chart ways to advance equality worldwide. The 31st edition of the ILGA World Conference took place from 2 to 6 May 2022 in LA Long Beach, hosted by the It Gets Better Project under the theme LGBTIQ youth: future present change.

IDNOWA fully participated in the conference including speaking at the interfaith pre-conference organized by the Global Interfaith Network (GIN)

IDNOWA focused mostly on issues affecting the marginalized LGBTIQ+ community in West Africa such as social injustice, economic disparities, climate change, and criminalization based on sexual identities and orientations, to mention but a few of the deadly presence we are battling against. 

Blog, Events, Press

IDNOWA Presentation to Parliament, Thursday 17 February 2022

On Thursday 17th February, IDNOWA founder and Executive Director, Davis Mac-Iyalla, addressed the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of the Ghanaian Parliament about the proposed Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill 2021. You can watch the session via GBC youtube channel Davis starts his speech at 32 minutes.

Davis addressed the committee in a clear and appropriate manner. Pointing out the following:-

Violence against Ghanaian Citizens

This Bill codifies into law a spirit of mob violence and vigilantism that already stalks many parts of our land.

In recent years, sexual minorities in Ghana have been attacked by mobs, subjected to sexual assault, and subjected to intimidation and extortion. Human rights organizations have documented dozens of beatings, and arrests of sexual minority people in Ghana in the past seven years. Sexual minorities suffer entrapment and blackmail on social media. They are subjected to sexual assault, and subjected to intimidation and extortion.

For instance, “in August 2015 in Nima, Accra, a young man was allegedly brutally assaulted by members of a vigilante group known as Safety Empire, simply because they suspected he was gay. In May 2016 in a village outside Kumasi in the Ashanti region, the mother of a young woman organized a mob to beat up her daughter because she suspected the young woman was a lesbian. The girl and her friend were forced to flee from the village. … One woman said that when her family heard that she was associating with LGBT people, they chased her out of the house with a machete; since then, she has not been able to go back home to visit her two-year-old daughter. Another woman from Kumasi said that when her family suspected she was a lesbian, they took her to a prayer camp where she was severely beaten over a period of one month.” A young man from Kumasi told human rights monitors “that in 2016 he was raped by a man he had met on social media, but did not report the rape to the police out of fear that he would be arrested for having ‘gay sex’.”[i]

Sexual minorities in Africa are no strangers to hatred and violence. For their human rights work with sexual minorities, David Kato was murdered in Uganda; Fanny Eddy was murdered in Sierra Leon. This Bill enshrines hatred into law. It will increase stigma towards those who are viewed as different or non-conforming. It will legitimize hatred from neighbours, strangers, and police officers, and even from people within one’s own family. Meanwhile, the Ghanaian parents who I speak to are worried for their LGBTI children. They fear for the safety of their daughters and sons. Honourable Members, the law in Ghana already expresses the majority view of Ghanaians: that the sexual affection between males should be seen as a misdemeanour. This Bill only stigmatizes our fellow citizens and penalizes those who love and support them. It will instigate more violence. It will cause more social division when Ghanaians should be coming together to confront multiple crises: like COVID, debt, climate change, and regional instability. It will only inflame emotions, and deepen divisions.


[i] https://www.hrw.org/report/2018/01/08/no-choice-deny-who-i-am/violence-and-discrimination-against-lgbt-people-ghana

Respect for Sexual Diversity

Respect for gender diversity and sexual diversity has been part of our African heritage since long before European culture was imposed on the peoples of Western Africa. For example, among the Igbo, women have taken on male leadership roles for many centuries; they can even become ‘male daughters’ and ‘female husbands’ if the need should arise. Among the Ashanti, men did not used to be stigmatized for dressing as women or for being intimate with each other. Among the Fante, one might desire women or men, according to the type of soul one was born with. Among the Nzima, same-gender attraction was unremarkable, and ‘friendship-marriages’ included dowries and festival banquets. To this day, the Nankani practice woman-to-woman marriage; and Dagaaba spiritual leaders respect same-sex attraction. Scholars and theologians from across the world, and from right here in Ghana, have documented these cultural norms.[i]

Respect for gender diversity and sexual diversity remains hotly debated among Christian and Muslim scholars. There are arguments over monogamy and polygamy. There are arguments over the correct interpretation of Scripture, tradition, and Hadith. Many Christians argue in favour of accepting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex people on the basis of Biblical texts; others quote the Bible to condemn them. Many Muslims argue in favour of accepting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex people on the basis of Islamic principles and of numerous fatwas; others claim that Islam condemns sexual minorities.

We propose that respect for gender diversity and sexual diversity is the real family value that we must defend. Many family members believe that their children are a gift. One mother said to me, “Should I hang my son because he looks feminine? My child is a gift from God, and I accept my child in whichever way he turns out.”

African cultures value love and connection; we used to hold hands, we used to walk arm-in-arm. Today, friends and family think twice about expressing affection, for fear of being called lesbian or gay. This Bill seeks to impose a narrow vision of family and of gender-correctness that is neither African, nor Ghanaian, nor universally recognized by Christians and Muslims. It is a vision that came to us in the colonial era, and that conservative Christians have decided to embrace. Perhaps it is God’s vision, and perhaps it is not.

Is this a question for Parliament to decide?


[i] These include Marc Epprecht, an award-winning Canadian scholar who writes about ecology, economic development, and sexual health in former British colonies on the African continent; Rose Mary Amenga-Etego, Associate Professor in Religious Studies at the University of Ghana; and Mercy Amba Oduyoye, a Ghanaian Methodist scholar who is the current director of the Institute of African Women in Religion and Culture at Trinity Theological Seminary in Ghana, and is considered to be one of the leading Protestant theologians in Africa.

The Dignity of LGBTI Persons

The LGBTI citizens of Ghana insist that “there should be nothing about us, decided without us.” LGBTI persons deserve to be heard as this law is discussed and debated.

Some who advocate persecuting LGBTI people claim that sexual minorities are sexual predators, or that there is a link between LGBTI identity and paedophilia. This kind of lie must be called out as false. LGBTI people are not sexual predators. For example, the latest data from Ghana, in 2019, show that over 90% of cases of gang rape, incest, and sexual abuse perpetrated by male ministers of religion, were perpetrated on females by males. Sexual abuse in Ghana is a heterosexual problem.[1]

True religion calls us to love, mercy, and compassion. As St. Paul teaches us, ‘Love is patient, [and] love is kind. … It does not dishonour others, … it is not easily angered, … it rejoices in the truth.’ As the Holy Qur’an teaches us, Allah is first and foremost ‘Compassionate’ and ‘Merciful.’

We believe that “every person is precious,” and that “the measure of every” law must be “whether it threatens or enhances the life and dignity” of each person within the society.


[2] We believe that everyone should love their neighbour – no exceptions for LGBTI.

[1] Quarshie, E.NB., Davies, P.A., Acharibasam, J.W. et al. Clergy-Perpetrated Sexual Abuse in Ghana: A Media Content Analysis of Survivors, Offenders, and Offence Characteristics. J Relig Health (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10943-021-01430-3

[2] US Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Blog, Events, Uncategorized

The First Speakers Bureau Training

 

Interfaith Diversity Network of West Africa held it first Speakers Bureau Training from the 11-14 July 2019 at The Capitol Hill Hotel Cape Coast.

Participants attended from Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Ghana. The training was first of its kind in West Africa and the main objective was to empower IDNOWA members on how to engage with religious leaders, state actors and the media more professionally.

 

 

 

Events

ILGA World Conference, Wellington, New Zealand 2019

IDNOWA as a proud member of ILGA were able to attend this conference.  We took part in an inter-faith pre-conferences, workshops and various panels.  On our arrival, we were sadden to hear about the shootings in Christ Church.  We were able to attend the vigil for the 50 Muslims that were killed at Christ Church.

We took part in the regional pan-African Caucus of ILGA, contributing to strategies and organising the next conference in West Africa.

At the conference, we were able to establish links with other inter-faith networks and groups who were also attending the conference.

Davis Mac-Iyalla, Executive Director, along with other partners organised a workshop called “Freedom for all” LGBTI, Women, HIV/AIDS – By countering Religious Right. The workshop was well attended.  Participants engaged and learnt more about West Africa and the impact of colonisation on women and LGBTI groups.

Events

Interfaith and Human Rights In West Africa – October 22, 2018

Interfaith and Human Rights In West Africa

Interfaith Diversity of West Africa invites you to a briefing about Interfaith and Human Rights in West Africa

22 October 2018 at 5:00 PM
Arcus Foundation, 44 West 28th Street 17th Floor,
(between 6th avenue and Broadway) New York, 10001
(Closest trains w/r/1 28th Street)

Davis Mac-Iyalla, executive director of IDNOWA will be giving a talk to highlight the hostile fundamentalism of faith and cultural attitude towards LGBT+ people in West Africa and what IDNOWA has been doing to address the situations and the challenges ahead.

RSVP by email.

Events, Press

Engaging with religious leaders in West Africa

IDNOWA hosted activists and experts at Capital Hills Hotel, Cape Coast Ghana  this past week (4th-7th October 2018)
The event focused on kick-starting the process of developing a curriculum for training on engaging with religious leaders in West Africa.
A special thanks to COC Netherlands,  who sponsored the event and are our partners in their Pride Project as well as our partners from the Global Interfaith Network (GIN) who facilitated the event.
Stay tuned for upcoming events!