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Last Updated: Friday, 1 September 2006, 16:23 GMT 17:23 UK

Ghanaian gay conference banned



Homosexuality is illegal in Ghana

Ghana's government has banned a conference for gay men and lesbians due to take place there later this month.

Information Minister Kwamena Bartels said as homosexuality was illegal in Ghana the gathering was not permitted.
"Government does not condone any such activity which violently offends the culture, morality and heritage of the entire people of Ghana," he said.
He warned that disciplinary action would be taken if anyone was found to have contravened the law.

The BBC's Kwaku Sakyi-Addo in the capital, Accra, says the conference was reportedly scheduled to take place on Monday at the Accra International Conference Centre and at a venue in the city of Koforidua.


Unnatural carnal knowledge is illegal under our criminal code
Kwamena Bartels
Information Minister


It has been difficult to establish precisely who was organising the conference, and whether it had received any prior approval from any official quarter, he says.

But in an unequivocal statement, Mr Bartels laid out the government's position.

"Government would like to make it absolutely clear that it shall not permit the proposed conference anywhere in Ghana.

"Unnatural carnal knowledge is illegal under our criminal code.
Homosexuality, lesbianism and bestiality are therefore offences under the laws of Ghana," he said.

Mr Bartels urged the interior minister to investigate and punish those who had given initial permission to the organisers.

Managers of the International Conference Centre have denied that such a conference was due to take place at the premises.

Our correspondent says gays and lesbians in Ghana maintain their relationships underground because of the social stigma associated with their sexual orientation.

According to the Ghana News Agency, many members of the public and the clergy have spoken out against the conference. Some anonymous callers to radio phone-in programmes say the government's reaction is an infringement of the fundamental freedoms of speech and association by gays and lesbians.