Types of criminalisation

  • Criminalises LGBT people
  • Criminalises sexual activity between males

Same-sex sexual activity is prohibited under the Criminal Code 1960, which criminalises acts of ‘unnatural carnal knowledge’. This provision carries a maximum penalty of three years’ imprisonment. Only men are criminalised under this law.

The law was inherited from the British during the colonial period, in which the English criminal law was imposed upon Ghana. Ghana retained the provision in its first Criminal Code upon independence, which remains in force, and continues to criminalise same-sex sexual activity today. An anti-LGBT Bill which would further criminalise LGBT people has been passed by Parliament but will not become law until it receives Presidential assent.

There is some evidence of the law being enforced in recent years, with LGBT people being occasionally subject to arrest, though there is no evidence of convictions under the law.  There have been consistent reports of discrimination and violence being committed against LGBT people in recent years, including assault, mob attacks, arbitrary detention, extortion, and discrimination in accessing services.

Sexual Offence Law Assessment

We’ve also assessed Ghana’s sexual offence laws against international human rights standards. Not only does Ghana criminalise same-sex sexual activity, it also fails to properly protect other vulnerable groups, such as women, children, and people with disability, from sexual offences.

Find out more


In March, it was reported that members of the military raided a birthday party in Jamestown being held by members of the LGBT community, attacking and injuring guests.


The US Department of State Human Rights report found that there were no reports of adults being prosecuted or convicted for consensual same-sex sexual activity. This finding has been consistent in these reports since 2017.

On 26 June, 30 LGBT community members were arrested in Accra on unlawful assembly charges, after assailants attacked a birthday party. They were released on 28 June, and the charges were later dropped due to a lack of evidence. The arrest and detention process outed several LGBT persons, some of whom lost their jobs as a result.

In Cape Coast, police detained two lesbian women at a house that had been used as a gathering spot for LGBT community members. The landlord subsequently terminated the lease.


In May, police arrested 21 people for what they described as ‘promotion of an LGBT+ agenda at an unlawful assembly’ in the southwestern city of Ho. The group had gathered to share insight on how to document and report human rights violations against the LGBT community in Ghana before their meeting was raided by police. They were detained for 22 days, then released on bail, and charged with unlawful assembly, a misdemeanour. The charges were eventually thrown out by a court in August due to a lack of evidence.


In August, LGBT activists reported that the police detained a young man reporting a robbery, as he mentioned that he was gay.

Amnesty International reported that the police conducted involuntary medical tests on two young men who were allegedly found having sex.


Human Rights Watch reported in January that they were not aware of any prosecutions under section 104, however they were aware of instances in which police had arrested individuals suspected of being gay and extorted money from them.


The US Department of State report stated that there were reports of prosecutions for same-sex sexual activity, however no convictions were reported.


In June, three women were arrested at a football camp on suspicion of being lesbians. When released from detention, their families disowned them. In July, a 29-year-old lesbian’s father reported her to the police. Her grandmother paid for her bail after her arrest and she was told she must return to the police station approximately five times.


In 2014 there was considerable public debate over whether Section 104 could be used to prosecute consenting adults for same-sex sexual activity, but there were no reports it had been used.

In August, police in Walewale, a small farming town and capital of the West Mamprusi District, Northern Region, arrested a 21-year-old man on suspicion of being homosexual and “recruiting” other youths. Police stated the arrest was for the suspect’s own safety, since residents of the town had vowed to kill the man and his entire family if he was not removed from the community.

In December, two lesbian women were arrested after one’s mother brought police officers to her home. They spent three days in prison but were not formally charged with an offence, and were eventually released.


In February, Attorney General, Marietta Appiah Oppong, declared that unnatural carnal knowledge is a criminal offence and so the position of the law is clear, so that would be her advice to government upon taking office.

Discrimination and Violence


In March, a young man alleged to be gay was reportedly hospitalised following a mob attack in Kasoa, near Accra.

In March, it was reported that the presidential candidate of Ghana’s ruling party, Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia, stated that he was opposed to “the practice of homosexuality”, and promised to maintain this stance should he be elected in December.


In September, it was reported that there had been an increase in discrimination and violence in Ghana, which was linked to the passage of the anti-LGBT Bill. In April four men were beaten in Kumasi, a large city in Ghana, and in June and July men were attacked after being lured to specific locations on dating apps. Eyewitnesses at the attack in July, which took place in Accra, said the victim was stabbed multiple times. There are also reports of kidnapping and ransoms, as well as an increase in online abuse towards LGBT individuals


In 2022 violent attacks were reported and linked to the introduction of the anti-LGBT Bill. These attacks included a rise in so-called ‘corrective rape’. One case resulted from three women being raped and robbed by six men. Another involved the rape of a 15-year-old girl by men who allegedly said that she was a lesbian. Local activists raised concerns about the under reporting of rapes, especially of those being commited by family or community members.

In addition, a US State Department report noted that for the second year in a row there was a notable increase in anti-LGBT statements by high-ranking politicians, religious leaders and community leaders. These statements were widely reported in the media.

In July, the Ghana Registered Nurses and Midwives Association ran a workshop for medical professionals promoting “conversion therapies”, and the chief executive of the country’s Mental Health Authority called homosexuality “a mental disorder”. There has been an increasing number of reported instances of “conversion therapy” in recent years.

In August, unknown assailants in the Ashanti Region kidnapped, assaulted and blackmailed a human rights advocate.


From early 2021 the LGBT community in Ghana began to be subjected to an increased crackdown by law enforcement. In January, the country’s first LGBT community centre and safe space, the LGBT+ Rights Ghana centre, was opened in Accra. However, the centre was closed down by police by February following anti-LGBT protests and discriminatory comments by religious groups, politicians and the press. The director of LGBT+ Rights Ghana, Alex Kofi Donkor, stated that while they expected some anti-LGBT organisations to use the opportunity to stoke tension, the level of the “anti-gay hateful reaction has been unprecedented”.

In July, a gay man was beaten by a mob, and media reporters were condemned for allegedly ‘glorifying’ the attack.

It was also reported that in 2021 police arrested an intersex woman in Ho, detained her in male cell, and encouraged the men in the cell to rape her.


A US Department of State report noted that LGBT people faced widespread discrimination in education and employment, as well as police harassment and extortion, and gay men in prison were vulnerable to sexual and physical abuse.

It was reported that on 11 February, a group of 10 men violently attacked a man they believed to be gay, forcing their way into his home.


In January, a Human Rights Watch report found that members of the LGBT community were being frequently subjected to “physical violence and psychological abuse, extortion and discrimination in many aspects of daily life.” It found that most people did not report the violence and abuse they faced to police due to fear of stigma, exposure, and arrest. Most of the LBT women interviewed were pressured into marriage and having a family. Those that did not conform faced violence.

In June, in the end of a mission statement after his visit to Ghana, the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights stated that: “Discrimination against LGBTI people makes them vulnerable to extreme poverty and LGBTI people living in poverty experience intersecting forms of discrimination that prevent the full enjoyment of their human rights.”


The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) in Ghana reported receiving 41 reports of discrimination against LGBT people as of June 2017.


In January, three male students were lynched by a mob of students at Opoku Ware Senior High School in Kumasi, accusing them of having “engaged in homosexuality.” They had been armed with clubs, machetes and stones. Teachers intervened to stop the attack.


In February, a well-known event promoter was beaten by a mob in Accra in February due to his perceived sexuality. A video recording of the attack was circulated widely through social media. Popular Ghanaian singer Efya later condemned the attack on Twitter.

In March, a group of women perceived to be lesbians were confronted by a mob during a private birthday party in the town of Teshie near Accra and pelted with human faeces” according to reports.

In August, a soldier reportedly rescued a gay man being severely beaten by a mob at Kawukudi Park in Accra. The victim was invited by a friend to watch a football game with the intention to beat him up.

In the same month, a violent homophobe’s Facebook page was reportedly blocked and a police investigation started after complaints from UK based activist Pastor Jide Macaulay alleging that he was using social media to entrap and assault LGBT people.

Also in August, police reportedly launched a search for a group of about 20 attackers that brutally assaulted a man suspected to be gay in a suburb of Accra. Police later revealed that the victim was assaulted after he had contacted one of the local men to be his friend. The incident was recorded on a video that went public.


In May, a gang of Muslim youths were wanted by police following the lynching of a gay man because of his sexuality. According to reports, local villagers refused to help the police in their investigation and were still looking for the man’s lover.

In August, a 21-year-old man was targeted by a group for wearing women’s clothes and having sex with men. They threatened to kill him and his family. The police responded by arresting the victim.


In April, 53 students were expelled from a school after being suspected of being gay.


Related Countries


Togo criminalises same-sex sexual activity between men and between women. Sentences include a maximum penalty of three years’ imprisonment and a fine.


Nigeria criminalises same-sex sexual activity between men and between women. The gender expression of trans people is also criminalised. Sentences include a maximum penalty of death by stoning.


Liberia criminalises same-sex sexual activity between men and between women. Sentences include a maximum penalty of one year imprisonment.

Local Organisations

LGBT+ Rights Ghana

a movement of LGBT people championing the rights of the community in Ghana.

OHF Initiative

a local organisation working to improve the health and human rights of the LGBT community.

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