A court in Ghana has acquitted 21 people arrested for attending an LGBTQ+ event in May after the Attorney General said there wasn't sufficient evidence to prove unlawful assembly. It comes amid a crackdown on the LGBTQ+ community in the country, and a controversial new bill that threatens to outlaw advocacy and strengthen existing criminal offences for being LGBTQ+.
Chief Superintendent Akolgo Yakubu Ayamga, a police prosecutor, said the Attorney General had advised there was insufficient evidence to continue with the prosecution.
“The court has today struck out the case based on the advice received, and the 21 have been acquitted and discharged. It means that the case is over and they are free.”
Julia Ayertay, the lawyer for the accused attendees, said: “We welcome the decision and that has always been our argument from the beginning of this case,” she said. “It has been a rough journey since May but thankfully the law has spoken.”
The 21 had attended an event aimed at empowering LGBTQ+ people, including training them to become advocates and paralegals to help report rights violations. The group organizing the event was shut down after political and religious leaders called for it to be closed, and security forces raided the group.
The meeting could have been highly illegal under the new proposed bill, but fortunately, this time, the activists appear to have escaped persecution.