Africa’s ‘right-wing extremists’ say gay rights smears ‘need to stop’

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Some police officers reportedly pushed a gay activist around after the raids

African governments and police forces are increasingly conflating “right-wing extremism” with LGBTQ communities.

This appears to be a reaction to the growing support for gay rights from Western countries.

Back in Ghana, a group, part of which is linked to the far-right, has helped track and investigate allegations of gay rights activism.

The group – Operations ENOUGH – has also helped local politicians see same-sex activity.

People of all political persuasions have sex with people of the same sex, that’s normal behaviour

According to an internal memo seen by the BBC, Operation ENOUGH founder said he was “humbled” by the fact the group was having an impact.

“It’s impressive that we’re both pro-family and pro-LGBTQ advocates,” Michael Manich said in the memo to Operation ENOUGH members.

What is Operation ENOUGH?

Operation ENOUGH, whose name can be translated as “Enough”, was formed to tackle “the growing radicalisation and breeding grounds for extremism” in Ghana, Mr Manich told the BBC.

According to the memo seen by the BBC, Operations ENOUGH runs a network of spies on the ground.

The seven-page memo was written in 2017 by a person called Kwame Essien Matrack, who goes by the name LKA by the group.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The activities of gay rights groups in Africa are increasingly associated with “neo-Nazis”

KWAM, as he is known, was on the staff of the state-run airline at the time.

In the memo, KWAM describes Operation ENOUGH’s work in the state-run airline.

“This has been done to counter the sustained communist smear campaign of the issue of homosexuality, leftist threat perception, perceived western threat perception and alleged lack of absolute security,” KWAM said.

KWAM also said Operation ENOUGH has offered its services on gay rights issues as part of a shared interest.

“Human rights work is a linchpin to the total security and the focus of the organisation as it relates to promoting human rights which have been cultivated on an egalitarian basis as if our countries are not different from each other, ” KWAM said.

What has Operation ENOUGH got to do with gays?

The memo provided an account of a meeting between KWAM and a politician who led Operation ENOUGH.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Recent arrests in Ghana are part of a crackdown on LGBTQ communities

The politician claims KWAM had advised him on how best to handle an incident involving a gay rights activist.

“Operation ENOUGH seeks to work with the establishment to confront such activities with a view to preventing things from degenerating further,” KWAM wrote.

What impact is Operation ENOUGH having?

The memo from KWAM says the meetings gave Operations ENOUGH a new angle in its work.

“The organisation has also been approached by the Ministry of Gender and Social Development to pursue the issue of same-sex marriages. This was really exciting as we were able to resolve that problem in two weeks. We could even do a little better,” KWAM said.

Some other groups are also linked to Operation ENOUGH.

One such group, Ghana Eagle Foundation, is run by three American pastors, none of whom have expressed views different from anti-gay sentiment.

Image copyright Flickr Image caption Matthew Shepard, 21, was beaten and tied to a fence in Wyoming, and his death made a global impact

What message does Operation ENOUGH have for the West?

Despite what some Westerners may view as negative consequences, KWAM said the group’s work had helped people make better decisions.

“At the end of the day, whatever is in place, or works, is due to a population of people that consistently talk about what works,” KWAM wrote.

“People of all political persuasions have sex with people of the same sex, that’s normal behaviour. The creation of the pluralism process is due to the presentation of truth.”

Those people “who refuse to recognise reality are feeling more and more pressure as a result of the behaviour the state is trying to block”.

“Who’s going to pay for that?” KWAM writes.

“Who’s going to support the allocation of resources to those who don’t seem to act in a strategic manner or in a rational manner?”

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