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Police in Ghana broke up a wedding party for two women, arresting 22 people last weekend. According to GhanaWeb, police in Kwahu-Obomen were tipped off to the event by local leaders and raided the venue where the ceremony was taking place on the evening of Saturday, March 27. Video obtained by GhanaWeb shows police shouting and pushing the attendees while making arrests. Police were later forced to grant bail and release the women arrested as there were no available female cells at the local police station.
Local journalist Okwahuhemaa Piesie Afia Pokua witnessed the event and spoke to GhanaWeb about the incident. She said the organizers tried to portray the festivities as a birthday party, but the decorations gave away the real purpose of the gathering in Kwahu-Obomen in the eastern region of the country.
"I had information that some people suspected to be gays and lesbians were having a party and named the party 'birthday party' and they had planned to have a marriage ceremony, meaning two ladies were going to get married," Pokua said.
Pokua said the unnamed venue, also described as a residential facility, was well decorated for the wedding, with a cake ready to be cut by the newly-betrothed women. The ceremony itself apparently took place in a separate room among a select group of confidants.
"During the event I heard the emcee saying 'today, we have a vow to make, we're here purposely for something whether police come or not, we go do our thing,'" she reported.
A short time later, Pokua said the emcee announced it was time for the "birthday girls" to make their appearance.
"When they came out, I saw a woman with what looked like a lace made into a wedding gown with a veil, bridal fan, and bridal purse, the one acting like a man was also costumed in a Nigerian outfit," Pokua recalled, adding the two women "came out of the room as a couple."
About 15 minutes later, though, police arrived. While some attendees were able to escape, police arrested 22 of the partygoers. Video of the event obtained by GhanaWeb shows a chaotic scene with police shouting orders at the attendees, some of whom can be heard loudly protesting the police actions. Police were later forced to release the arrested women on bail due to a lack of available female cells.
Ghana has grown increasingly hostile to the LGBTQ+ community recently. Earlier this month, the office of an LGBTQ+ advocacy group was raided by police. The group, LGBT+ Rights Ghana, posted video of the raid to their social media, and were later forced to close down their facilities due to dangers from local traditional leaders and others opposed to the mere existence of the LGBTQ+ community in their country.
"A few days ago, traditional leaders threatened to burn down our office but the police did not help," the group wrote on Twitter. "At this moment, we no longer have access to our safe space and our safety is being threatened."
Meanwhile, the landlord of the wedding venue could face charges as well. The unnamed facility was reportedly used for various LGBTQ+ events, but was also known as a location for illegal activities such as prostitution. The landlord has been summoned to appear before Kwaha-Obomeng Chief Nana Effah Opinamen II and other elders at the regions palace to explain why he rented the facilities to the group.