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Naomi Campbell and Virgil Abloh sign letter supporting gay rights in Ghana

High-profile names in fashion and politics have joined together to condemn the recent closure of an LGBTQ+ centre

A group of 67 high-profile figures including Naomi Campbell, Virgil Abloh, Adwoa Aboah, and Dazed editor-in-chief Ib Kamara have signed an open letter backing gay rights in Ghana following the recent closure of an LGBTQ+ centre in Accra.

Joining together to condemn the closure of the LGBTRightsGhana centre and police pressure, the letter offers support to those affected and calls on Ghana’s president, Nana Akufo-Addo, and other political leaders to offer protection to the LGBTQ+ community.

“To our Ghanian LGBTQIA+ family,” the letter begins, “We see you and we hear you. We are in awe of your strength, your bravery and your audacity to be true to who you are even when it is dangerous to do so. You are loved, you are important and you deserve a safe place to gather your shared experience.”

Last week, the LGBTRightsGhana centre was raided by police after mounting religious, political, and media pressure. Staff lost access to the building and its leaders have been forced into hiding. “The raid by the police has made the community conscious of how exactly the Ghanaian society feels about them,” Abdul Wadud, communications director for LGBTRightsGhana (LRG) told Dazed Beauty. “The community – especially those associated with LGR – feel unsafe and the media keeps putting out content that places a target on their backs.”

The letter, which has also been signed by Idris Elba, Edward Enninful, Diane Abbott, and other influential people largely of Ghanaian heritage, stated that the group was “deeply disturbed” by the threat to the community. “We have watched with profound concern as you have had to question the safety of your vital work at the LGBT+ Rights Ghana Centre in Accra, and feared for your personal wellbeing and security. It is unacceptable to us that you feel unsafe,” it says.

“As prominent and powerful advocates for this great country, we are beseeching His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and political/cultural leaders to create a pathway for allyship, protection and support. We petition for inclusivity which will make the nation even greater and even stronger.”

Since opening in January, the LRG centre, intended to be a safe space for LGBTQ+ people to meet and find support, has been the subject of furious public backlash with several high-profile figures in Ghana demanding its closure. Catholic Bishops in Ghana put together a conference to compel the government “not to succumb to pressures to legitimise (LGBTQ+) rights in Ghana.” They urged for the space to close, supported by political leaders like Sarah Adwoa Safo and Kojo Oppong Nkrumah who said it went against Ghanaian culture. 

In response to the closure, members of LGR called for support from the wider world. “We want the world to speak out about the injustice happening currently in the country. We want the world to know exactly how our government has constantly failed to protect marginalised people and communities,” said Wadud. 

To help support the community you can donate to the group’s Community Support Fund Initiative on GoFundMe here.