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Some of the UK’s most prominent people of Ghanaian heritage have joined together to condemn their former homeland for its stance on gay rights in what will be seen as an extraordinary show of diaspora power.

The influential names in fashion, film and media, including Michael Essien the ex Black Stars and Chelsea legend declare his support for them, Idris Elba and the Vogue editor-in-chief, Edward Enninful, have signed an open letter in support of Ghana’s LGBTQ+ community. Naomi Campbell, although, not of Ghanaian heritage, has also put her name to the letter.

Last week a community centre for LGBTQ+ people in the west African country closed its doors after mounting pressure by religious groups and anti-gay organisations against sexual minorities. Police later raided the centre its staff said, after its leaders were forced into hiding.

The letter, signed by 67 celebrities, politicians and other influential people largely of Ghanaian heritage, said they were deeply disturbed by the events and called on Ghana’s president, Nana Akufo-Addo, and other political leaders to offer protection to the LGBTQ+ community.

“We have watched with profound concern as you have had to question the safety of your vital work at the LGBT+ Rights Ghana Centre in Accra, and feared for your personal wellbeing and security. It is unacceptable to us that you feel unsafe,” it said.

“As prominent and powerful advocates for this great country, we are beseeching His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and political/cultural leaders to create a pathway for allyship, protection and support. We petition for inclusivity which will make the nation even greater and even stronger,” it continued.

In recent weeks several high-profile figures in Ghana had demanded the closure of the centre, intended to be a safe space for LGBTQ+ people to meet and find support. Yet since the centre’s opening in January in the capital, Accra, many people have received death threats and online abuse.

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