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By AHRC, May 09, 2024.

On Wednesday, May 8, 2024, the Supreme Court of Ghana, presided over by Chief Justice Gertrude Torkornoo, commenced hearings on two separate petitions challenging the anti-LGBTQ bill passed by parliament on February 28, 2024. The Petitioners, media personality Richard Sky and University of Cape Coast researcher Dr. Amanda Odoi, each presented their cases before a five-member panel.

The cases effectively challenge the constitutionality of the FAMILY VALUES ACT 2024.

Chief Justice Torkornoo directed Richard Sky and his legal team to submit a fresh motion paper, along with supporting affidavits and a statement of the case, regarding his challenge.

Sky's petition seek eight reliefs, including nullifying the parliamentary process of the bill and preventing its assent or implementation. The panel granted Sky's team permission to address any pertinent issues, factual or legal, in the new submission.

Lawyer Paa Kwesi Abaidoo, representing Richard Sky, filed two separate applications—one to amend a relief and another to submit a supplementary affidavit—prompting the court to set a deadline of May 17, 2024, for the submission of the revised documents.

Additionally, the court granted the lawyer for the Speaker of Parliament, Mr. Thaddeus Sory, seven days to file any necessary processes related to the trial.

The case involving Richard Sky was adjourned indefinitely, pending the submission of the new documents.

In the matter filed by Dr. Amanda Odoi, Mr. Sory, representing the Speaker of Parliament, was instructed to file new supplementary affidavits. Dr. Ernest Ako, counsel for Dr. Odoi raised objections to the supplementary affidavit filed by Mr. Sory, noting its submission without court approval and expressing concerns about its language.

While acknowledging the need for the Speaker's legal team to respond, the court deemed several paragraphs of the affidavit inappropriate and in need of review.

Dr. Odoi's case involves an interlocutory injunction against the Speaker of Parliament and the Attorney General in response to the passage of the anti-LGBTQ bill.

Chief Justice Torkornoo adjourned the initial hearing on Wednesday without setting a new date for further proceedings.

Melanie Nathan: "It is not surprising to me that the Court is avoiding nailing down the cases to the point where the Justices can rule. The political pressure of avoidance is palpable. President Nana Akufo-Addo has avoided signing the Act into law, by saying that he will pend receiving the FVB for his assent until the Court decides the pending Petitions. This helps Nana Akufo-Addo avoid the inevitable conflict between what his populace expects of him, which is to sign the law versus navigating the international outcry. If Akufo-Addo signs the law, Ghana stands to lose over 3 billion dollars in trade and aid. Avoidance may seem like a prudent synergy between the Court and the Government. Whether there has been direct influence between these separate branches of government will be left to history."


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