Gay and Lesbian Travel in Ghana

Information about gay and lesbian travel in Ghana.

Resorts, hotels, and cities are scrambling to label themselves alternative-lifestyle friendly as gay and lesbian vacationers have become one of the fastest growing areas of tourism.

Please submit information about same-sex travel in Ghana. Is it reasonably safe to be openly homosexual in Ghana? Are local attitudes accepting of open displays of affection between gay couples? What does a gay or lesbian traveler need to know before traveling to Ghana?

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Steve

December 15th, 2008

Ghana is a safe and hospitable country that welcomes all people.

However, Ghana is also a very different culture and is a conservative country, so the issue of homosexuality, when raised, tends towards hysteria. It is not wise to disclose your orientation freely if it is anything other than heterosexual.

Homosexuality is illegal in Ghana, as in most African countries. Just as is was when it was illegal in Western countries to be gay, the police here use this to harass and blackmail gays. So be careful, as they often work in partnership with guys online.

There are definitely places where gays meet. Any person who approaches you and directly asks your orientation or position is a working boy and not a true gay. A gay person in Ghana could never be so direct out of fear for his personal safety. Gays stay well hidden and mostly meet via friend-of-a-friend.

On international gay chat sites, there are a disproportionate number of young men from Ghana professing to search for true love. Let us be direct and say that 97% of these guys online do not rank above a 4 on the Kinsey Scale of Human Sexuality. Only a small 3% of the guys on these gay chat sites are 'gay' in the sense you think of it in the West.

You must be careful about the guys you meet online. Some areas are notorious for the danger that these guys present to gay tourists. There are a number of horror stories and certainly some travelers have had bad experiences with "gays" they meet online. There are also tons of wonderful stories from gays and lesbians who visit and have a great time with people they meet - regardless of their true orientation.

Just remember, this is a business here. At many cafes there will be 3 or 4 boys all working together, each having multiple chats with foreigners. This is the reason the chat and profiles all sound so similar. Some people are even illiterate and hire typists who bounce from machine to machine answering chat messages. They work together to help each other formulate responses to questions in chats and email. They cut-and-paste sweet love. Any person who comes at you with instant love is a faker.

Many of the photos in posted profiles are not true. Guys pass around CDs full of sexy photos to use for online. Look at the background carefully. Look at the clothing or electric outlets. There are many clues, so if your online friend is too beautiful, look carefully. Is he a model copied from some online magazine?

Even more shocking, there are some Internet cafes that are *completely* devoted to this type of activity. It is truly a business, with finders fees paid for arranging a meeting with a foreigner, and 11 and 12 year old year-old boys watching pornography en masse and learning how to chat 'gay'.

Gays are regarded as being rich and generous and desperate for needing love, so this has become a booming business. There have even been editorials in newspapers questioning whether Ghana is becoming the Thailand of Africa.

Please, use your common sense and do not be fooled by sweet talk or tales of woe and sorrow. When told of a critical illness needing money, ask why this person is instead spending his money in an Internet cafe. Be quick to say goodbye to any online "friend" who asks you for money, gifts or help with a visa. Simply say "I do not think you are the correct friend for me in Ghana."

The general feeling is that if you are generous and respectful and judged to be a good human being, then nothing bad should come your way with any online friend that you have established a long-term chat relationship with. But there are most definitely some people online who are simply out to arrange some way to take all your money via set-up "arrests" by the police or set-up "robberies" by their friends or just out-and-out theft. Fortunately these guys are in a very small minority. So please be careful with your internet friends.

I feel safer at any hour of the day or night anywhere in Accra than I do in any American city. But, as in any developing economy, you will be a target for certain unscrupulous types. Please follow some basic common sense rules.
- Do not tell people the name of the hotel where you are staying.
- Arrange for any meeting to occur in a public place.
- Do not invite strangers to your room.
- Do not photograph or videotape any illegal activities.
- Do not carry or consume any illegal substances.
- Do not leave open food or drink unattended.
- Do not accept a beverage that you did not witness being opened or poured.

The conversations we have had with visitors who have gotten into trouble, as well as conversations with a few perpetrators, have been instructive. There are 4 behaviors that put you at greater risk for becoming a victim:

* Wanting sex parties (hotels may call police) or multiple partners (jealous, discarded or disgruntled boys may call police) or dealing with young guys (younger guys are more unpredictable).

* Arriving ignorant of your destination, or appearing to be an easy pushover. This includes sending money or gifts in advance of your arrival. DO NOT SEND GIFTS OR CASH in advance if you are planning to visit!

* Being disrespectful or judged to be a poor human being, resulting in your friend wanting to be rid of you by any means necessary. Excessive demands for sex or public displays of affection are very disrespectful.

* Flaunting your wealth by flashing lot of cash, jewelry or electronics. Paying excessive top-dollar for everything, or over-tipping clearly says you don't need all the money you have in your pocket.

* If you are engaged in group sex, do not let any person leave the room. This is a common trick, whereby one guy will leave the room while the illegal activity is going on, and he will return with an accomplice to witness the activity. This will be followed by threats and physical abuse until you have handed over a huge sum of money.

Having said all this, you should keep in mind that if you are faithful to your African friend, he will remain with you always and do whatever he can for you. What people want is a better life. Remember that only 100 years ago in the West, marriage was based on the ability to provide a good life, and not the romantic notion of love. Such is still the situation in much of the world today.

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