Since taking office in 2017, Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo has demonstrated a pattern of heavy-handedness, authoritarianism and impunity that belies his carefully crafted global image of a debonair and progressive African leader. The latest controversy involves a bill, supported by members of Akufo-Addo’s administration and key religious institutions in the country, that would criminalize displays of same-sex affection and advocacy for LGBTQ rights, punishable by up to a decade in prison. Ghana has long had a mixed record on protecting LGBTQ rights, but for much of the past four years in particular, LGBTQ Ghanaians—as well as their allies and advocates—have faced a chilling crackdown.

The draft anti-LGBTQ law is only part of a broader erosion of rights and freedoms in a country that is often portrayed as a rare democratic “success story” in West Africa. In 2018, Akufo-Addo fired the head of the electoral…

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