Unofficial 'Ghanaian pavilion' protesting for LGBT rights in front of Folklorama sites

It's not an official pavilion, but it's one Sulemana Abdulai hopes many Winnipeggers take time to learn about and show their support.

Collecting signatures to send to Canadian, Ghanaian governments

Sulemana Abdulai and a group of protesters wearing 'Ghana pavillion' shirts are collecting signatures outside of Folklorama pavilions in Winnipeg. (Submitted/Sulemana Abdulai )

It's not an official pavilion, but Sulemana Abdulai hopes Folklorama visitors will show their support for the people of Ghana, especially those facing discrimination for their sexuality.

Donning pink T-shirts that read "Ghanaian Pavillion," Abdulai and a small group of protesters will be visiting Folklorama pavilions over the course of the multicultural festival to collect signatures against anti-LGBT laws in the African nation.

"The way they are treating the LGBTQ community in Ghana is so very bad," said Abdulai, who organized the effort. "People get killed [over] their sexual activities."

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Ghana face discrimination, violence and police harassment. Abdulai said people he and others Winnipeg know have been killed over their sexual orientation.

"Everybody's got their own stories. Some are gay, some are bisexual," he said, of the group of nine men rallying for support. 

Many walked across the U.S.-Canada border near Emerson, Man., fearing an immigration crackdown in the United States.

He's hoping to collect signatures here in Winnipeg to submit to the federal government and the Ghana High Commission in Canada to effect change.

Monday, the group will be outside of the India pavilion. Abdulai said the group could also visit other pavilions depending on the turnout.

Abdulai said people have been co-operative so far, listening to their plea and signing the petition. However he said the group will respect those who don't want to sign. 

"We stop them, they read our petition and sign and say good luck to us," he said.

He said they're only asking for support.

"We only need their support," said Abdulai. "That is what we need from them. Their signature can help us a lot. We can save a lot of lives back there in Africa."

A spokesperson for Folklorama declined to comment on the matter, other than to express disappointment.

"It is disappointing that individuals find themselves in a situation where they feel the need to use our celebration of culture and diversity, one that has maintained a long-standing apolitical policy, for their own political purposes," a statement partially read. 

Folklorama runs until Aug. 19.