LGBTQ tolerance billboards spark uproar in Ghana

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Large billboards promoting LGBTQ tolerance have been torn down in Ghana's capital and other areas this month after sparking outrage in the West African country.

Gay sex is illegal in conservative, highly religious Ghana, but a proposed law will criminalise even LGBTQ advocacy and impose longer jail terms for same-sex relations.

The "Promotion of proper human sexual rights and Ghanaian family values" bill is in parliament, but was widely condemned by the international community and rights activists.

LGBTQ activists said they put up posters several metres high in Accra and two other cities, with phrases such as "Love, Tolerance and Acceptance".

The posters quickly prompted calls from conservatives for police to take them down.

"So long as they mount those billboards, we would bring them down," opposition lawmaker Samuel George, one of the sponsors of the new law, said on Twitter this week.

Another poster was taken down in the northern region of Tamale on Wednesday.

Videos and photos posted on social media networks showed several slashed posters, in a heap on the ground.

LGBTQ Rights Ghana, the activist group that put up the posters, said their message in Accra, Kumasi and Tamale was simply to promote tolerance.

They said they had broken no laws to advocate for their rights.

"The billboards are our way of reminding and celebrating the charitable culture of Ghanaians," the group said in a statement.

"LGBTQ Rights Ghana and its members are law-abiding citizens."

Activist groups say the new bill is a setback for human rights in Ghana and have called on President Nana Akufo-Addo's government to reject it.

But the bill is widely supported in Ghana, where Akufo-Addo has said gay marriage will never be allowed while he is in power.

Ghana's Anglican bishops also endorsed the bill, saying LGBTQ beliefs were "unbiblical and ungodly" and also against Ghanaian tradition and culture.

LGBTQ stands for  lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer.

More than half the countries in sub-Saharan African have laws against homosexuality, with some punishing it with death penalty under sharia law, although there have been no known modern-day executions.

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