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Chelsea icon Michael Essien deletes Instagram post supporting gay rights in Ghana after being hit by backlash

MICHAEL Essien has come in for a barrage of abuse after declaring his support for gay rights in Ghana.

The Chelsea icon won 58 caps for his country and still commands vast attention there.

But Essien sparked controversy with his pro-equality message in a nation where homosexuality is still illegal.

The ex-midfielder, 38, wrote on Instagram: "Ghana supports equality. We see you, we support you.

"Our LGBTQIA plus Community in Ghana."

However dad-of-two Essien deleted his post after being bombarded with abuse and criticism.

One comment on his post read: "You just lost your one follower, good luck, byee."

Another said: "Delete else you will loose (sic) followers."

Ghana president Nana Akufo-Addo recently declared same-sex marriages will never be allowed under his leadership.

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The 76-year-old politician said on Saturday: "I have said it before, and let me stress it again.

"It will not be under the Presidency of Nana Addo Dankwah Akufo-Addo that same-sex marriage will be legal."

Actor Idris Elba and model Naomi Campbell joined 65 other British celebrities, designers and politicians in calling for Ghana’s president to engage with the country’s LGBT+ community in an open letter published on social media on Monday.

The letter read: “In recent weeks, we have watched with profound concern as you have had to question the safety of your vital work at the ‘LGBT+ Rights Ghana’ center in Accra, and feared for your personal wellbeing and security.

“It is unacceptable to us that you feel unsafe. We are watching and listening and we will use our collective power to shield you and raise you up.”

Essien is currently working as a coach for Danish club Nordsjaelland.

He helped Chelsea win the Champions League, two Premier League titles, four FA Cups and a League Cup before ending his nine-year Stamford Bridge spell in 2014.

A then record £24.4million Blues buy from Lyon, he also played for Real Madrid, AC Milan, Bastia and clubs in Greece, Indonesia and Azerbaijan.

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