Melanie Nathan, APRIL 05, 2023.
The Ghanaian Parliament introduced an extremely harsh ANTI-LGBTQI bill, THE PROMOTION OF PROPER HUMAN SEXUAL RIGHTS AND GHANAIAN FAMILY VALUES BILL OF 2021, which was sent to its Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee for work up. African Human Rights Coalition submitted an opposition based on the perspective of Ghanaian LGBTQI+ people seeking asylum in the United States. This Bill was expected to impose some of the harshest laws against gay people and has now had, according to President Nana Akufo-Addo, a substantial modification.
Nana Akufo-Addo spoke about the controversial legislation during a joint press conference with the US Vice-President Kamala Harris.
Now, the Private Member Bill is out of Committee and is under a constitutional review by Parliament.
The original bill was understood to create some of the toughest anti-LGBT laws on the African continent, however. Mr Akufo-Addo appeared to reassure that the attorney general had stepped into redraft the bill and suggested its draconian stance had altered. Perhaps they saw the light when faced with the extensive opposition from people such as the Special Independent Expert to the UN. African Human Rights Coalition and maybe some behind the scenes enlightening from VP Harris on her recent visit. Nonetheless whatever it may be , the mere fact of timing and the atmosphere of the call by Uganda's President Museveni calling on African leaders for "Africa to rid the world of homosexuality", lands Akufo-Addo squarely in the world of a perceivable genocide against Africa's gays. All at the behest of the radical right wing American Evangelicals, who are trudging the continent, surreptitiously seeking an end to homosexuality. PIC: Proof Positive - Sharon Slater, President of FAMILY WATCH INTERNATIONAL attending the REGIONAL Inter-Parliamentary Conference in Uganda, themed for American export of homophobia.
The new Kill the Gays Bill has just passed Uganda's Parliament, committee, and is in the hands of President Museveni, as we speak> See more HERE. Well times Sharon Slater and the American anti-homosexuality Evangelicals.
So Ghana, is ever present in its well orchestrated timing: “The bill is going through the parliament. The attorney general has found it necessary to speak to the committee (the constitutional and legal committee of parliament) about it regarding the constitutionality … of several of its provisions. The parliament is dealing with it. At the end of the process, I will come in,” said Akufo-Addo, “My understanding … is that substantial elements of the bill have already been modified as a result of the intervention of the attorney general.”
The Ghanaian leader went on to say that parliament will consider human rights issues that have sprung up as a result of the draconian bill and also the feelings of Ghanian citizens.
It seems that while touting caution at face value., we have yet to see the result of the so-called correction. Whichever way we choose to look at it, Ghana currently already criminalizes LGBTI people and this legislation can only serve to make the country conditions climate a lot worse.
Here is what I pointed out to Ghanaian Committee in my opposition and even with any amendment these very conditions will remain in place:
A FEW EXCERPTS FROM MELANIE NATHAN AND AHRC REPORT TO GHANAIAN PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE:
- Ghana has a right to enact sovereign laws. However, Ghana must also balance its role in the world global context, taking cognizance of human rights standards, treatise, and international instruments. While one may decry what may seem to be global interference, one must take cognizance of the global impact of such laws on Ghana and its citizens, which can be viewed through the lens of asylum seekers and refugees. While honoring Ghana’s sovereign rights, it is important to note Ghana is a country deeply respected in the international arena for its democratic and free elections and its right to sovereign laws. At the same time, we live at a time where we exist in a global context and under the principles of Ubuntu. The notion that “I AM because WE ARE.”
To this end one must balance the understanding of criminality in one jurisdiction versus its understanding in another jurisdiction. Accordingly, Hon. Parliamentarians, we implore upon you to truly study the majority global perspective and develop a deep understanding, together with the true history of the Colonial era penal codes, before voting to secure legislation as onerous as this will prove to be.
In applying such balance, it is critical to access truth and authenticity to include the historical context of how Ghana came to criminalize homosexuality, in the first place.
The Ghanaian media, public and Parliamentarians seem to adopt the terms “taboo” and “ostracization” and “abhorrence” to homosexuality as taught by the Colonizers and are unable to prove such taboos etc. to a time before the Colonizers brought their law and religion to West Africa and Ghana.
- Parliament should be aware that this Bill does nothing to further family values and that such title is a misconception. This Bill serves to hurt family values, by anyone’s standards because it encourages violence and disloyalty within the family. It discourages family unity when it pits members of families against their own, parent against child, siblings against each other, through its criminalization of those who are willing to stand by, help or support family members with non-heterosexual orientations and non-binary gender identities. This Bill will worsen the impact of the existing codes on family values. It will further cause families to reject, ostracize, banish, assault and harm their own family members, as the country conditions have shown to already occur, based on the old existing legislation.
- LGBTQI+ Ghanaians have been forced to flee their own country under the current Penal Code, whether enforced or not. I have personally interviewed and vetted scores of LGBTQI+ individuals from Ghana and conducted extensive research to include academic publications, well vetted sources to include interviewing individuals, human rights defenders and organizations, the human rights reports of international governments, agencies and organizations, to include the U.S. Department of State. I have presented my work and research under oath to the Immigration Courts of the United States of America:
There is widespread state-sponsored, and state permitted violence against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex people, all forming a social group under the acronym LGBTI in Ghana. Due to criminalization of LGBTI people under existing Penal Code, there is no government authority for an LGBTI person to turn to for protection or help in Ghana. This results in LGBTI individuals in Ghana reporting incidents of:
Physical assault, sexual assault, torture, and possible death,
psychological abuse, ostracization, discrimination,
unlawful detention and arbitrary arrest,
denial of basic services and state protection against crime,
extortion, blackmail, forced marriage, reparative therapy, and more.
- The difference between Criminalizing a real crime, such as bank-robbery, and a human sexuality renders the difference between criminalizing a globally viewed criminal act and the criminalization of LGBTQI+ people in terms of an identity. (Explained further in report)
-THE BILL PRE COMMITTEE: Ghana’s Family Values Act of 2021 goes much further in its criminalizing impact. It does not rely purely on the sex-act. It extends as an umbrella to anyone who openly identifies or is outed as LGBTQI+ or suspected as such under the notion of criminality. It also extends criminality to other freedoms and existing rights, to include support, funding, advocating for rights, media, related freedom of speech and is clearly unconstitutional. The mere existence of the Act will serve to criminalize anyone openly identifying as LGBTQI+, associated with a LGBTQI+ person in any way, to include services such as health, psycho-socio, funding, supporting, in relationship as a parent, teacher, busines associate, employer, landlord, teacher, doctor, counsellor, lawyer, spiritual or religious congregant/leader, etc. This is clear from the overt wording and interpretative reach of the new Bill.
When providing asylum external countries will be compelled under their laws to recognize for asylum more than just the LGBTQI+ person but also all those impacted by a credible fear of loss of freedom and rights and persecution that this Family Values Bill insists upon.
WE WILL REPORT BACK WHEN WE SEE TH CHANGES - STAY TUNED.
Parliament is closed until the end of April. I have no doubt President Akufo-Addo will ensure his Parliament catch up to uganda then- its a trend. Please contact Melanie at nathan@africanHRC.org if we can help in country conditions reporting, testimony or briefings.
CITATION: © MELANIE NATHAN | AFRICAN HUMAN RIGHTS COALITION: 2022, A REPRESENTATION TO THE GHANAIAN PARLIAMENT TO OPPOSE, nathan@africanHRC.org