End Atrocities Against LGBTQ Youth Committed in the Name of Religion

Target: Prophet Paul Kweku Nii Okai, General Overseer of Mount Horeb Victorious Church/Mount Horeb Prayer Centre

Goal: Reform prayer camps to be places of harbor and help rather than abuse and oppression.

Severe beatings, knife or machete assaults, abandonment: for thousands of people, these are not the images of nightmares. For these individuals, such atrocities are punishment…not for murder, not for stealing, but simply for the crime of being oneself. LGBTQ citizens in Ghana face a daily life of secrecy, struggle, and fear. Deeply entrenched cultural beliefs often  facilitate these crimes, particularly religious beliefs. Human rights organizations and international leaders continue to encourage the repeal of a Ghana law criminalizing homosexual acts. Ironically, however, it may be the very driving force behind these laws that can truly end the abuse and begin the healing. At its best, religion can be utilized as a powerful instrument for positive change rather than dangerous instigation and oppression.

Religion plays a prominent role in the lives of Ghana’s citizens, as a large majority of the population identifies as either Muslim or Christian. Extreme conservative religious beliefs concerning homosexual behavior in a country largely molded by religion helps create an overall environment of suspicion and hostility. Negative perceptions about the LGBTQ community have led to the spread of vigilante mobs who will beat and in the worst cases kill an individual even suspected of homosexual or transgender activity. While Ghana does have laws against these actions, they are rarely enforced.

As a result, LGBTQ  individuals often hide their identity or do not report crimes perpetrated against them. Domestic violence against this community continues on an upward trajectory, with untold numbers of young people beaten, scorned, cast away, or even forcibly chased away from their homes. Sometimes, these young people are sent to so-called prayer camps aimed at ‘correcting’ mental illnesses instead. While such privately owned institutions claim to be a refuge for those needing shelter, to many they are anything but. Reports of chaining, beatings, and severe food and water deprivation are rampant in these camps, with the mentally disabled and  LGBTQ youth among the most frequent victims of these abuses.

Sign this petition and demand  Mount Horeb Victorious Church–one of Ghana’s most renowned religious institutions–make prayer camps places of positivity and refuge rather than evil perpetrated in the name of religion.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Prophet Kweku Nii ,

Prayer is a powerful way to connect with one’s faith and to develop a life of thoughtful compassion. Prayer camps at their best can serve as this conduit and can in the process become a refuge— a place of healing –for those in need.

This mission can never be honored through the instruments responsible for the world’s greatest evils: violence and oppression. Reports of forceful methods used against homosexual or transgender visitors as well as the mentally ill are therefore not only troubling but alarming. Depriving an individual of essential nutrients or beating an individual into submission will never create anything but an endless cycle of more violence, fear, and hatred. These individuals— and all individuals who may come to your doors in mental, physical, or spiritual distress—are human beings above all and children of the same world. When you treat them as criminals to be punished, you send a message to those who honor and follow your spiritual beliefs that shunning, violence, and abandonment are the answers. So many young people flee from these unbearable conditions and from the families who should love and protect them. Do not compound or contribute to their suffering.

Do not be a clenched fist but a guiding hand. Be the voice of compassion, the voice of healing, and the voice of love and understanding that your camp and your religion represents.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Sonia Sevilla

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2 Comments

  1. Robert Ortiz says:

    Religion should never be used to justify violence, discrimination, indifference or any other negative actions and attitudes against LGBT people or anything at all. It’s supposed to help enlighten people and bring out the best in people, but all too oftne it is used to justify ignorance and intolerance thus making many religions and religion as a whole, nothing more than a scourge upon the planet. Compassion and kindness are the only way to go!

  2. Gen Agustsson says:

    discrimination is not a religious value.

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