BY MELANIE NATHAN, COUNTRY CONDITIONS EXPERT FOR LGBTQI+ GHANA, JANUARY 18, 2024,
Ghana has introduced new anti-homosexuality legislation in Parliament, which has already passed several readings and is in the amendment phase of its passage. Ghana's Supreme Court dismissed a legal challenge seeking to block Parliament from passing this stringent anti-LGBT bill, paving the way for its ratification. Lawmakers in the West African nation have been debating a bill since August 2021 that would criminalize same-sex relations, being transgender and advocating LGBTQ rights. It seems at least 98% MPs are in favor. Passing the Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values bill would further reduce freedoms in Ghana where gay sex is already punishable with up to three years in jail. The new Bill may provide ten years in prison for simply identifying as LGBTQA, which includes identifying being an ally.
The Ghana updates reflect a pattern that emerges for African countries about to pass anti LGBT legislation: There is usually a surge in rhetoric by politicians, religious leaders, as well as enhanced discrimination and persecution, often leading to violence.
Here are some highlights:
Kwame Anyimadu-Antwi, Chairman of the Constitutional, Legal, and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of Parliament, On January 12th, the following report: “We may complete amendments to anti-gay bill by March – The Chairman of the Constitutional, Legal, and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of Parliament, Kwame Anyimadu-Antwi, is confident that the committee will finish amending the clauses of the bill on the promotion of proper human sexual rights and Ghanaian family values, also known as the anti-gay bill, between February and March this year for it to be passed. The bill, which aims to criminalize LGBT activities, has sparked controversy since its introduction in Parliament by the Member of Parliament (MP) for Ningo-Prampram, Samuel Nartey George, and some other lawmakers. Although the Speaker, Alban Bagbin, assured that the anti-gay bill would be passed before the house adjourned for the Christmas break, it was unable to conclude the clause-by-clause amendments of the bill at the consideration stage.
In an interview with Citi News, Mr. Anyimadu-Antwi said he was very sure the remaining amendments would be done when Parliament resumes for the bill to be passed. “We were at clause four, so we did clauses one, two, and three. And then we have clause four, clause six, clause eight, clause nine up till the end of it. So when we get back in Parliament, we have amendments in almost all the clauses, and it ends at clause 24.” “And I am very sure that in February or March, we will be able to go through what is otherwise known as the LGBT, and then everybody will be free,” he said. (Citation: By Nii Ayikwei Okine as reported in CNR Citi newsroom, SEE HERE.)
The Minister of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, Hon. Stephen Asamoah Boateng: 'Government of Ghana backs anti-LGBTQ Bill' - Rightify: "According to him, even though the draft law was initiated by Sam George and others, "I am backing him, I am backing the churches, I am backing the Moslems, I am backing the traditional authorities." "We do not want to see this gay matter, whatever in Ghana. Never, it won't happen," he said during his speech at the last Sunday service at Perez Chapel International in Accra on December 31, 2023. He claims he is leading the government's position to oppose LGBTQ and "what I say is what government is going to do." Sam George, an Elder of the church, was seen applauding and smiling to the speech which seems to have increased his hopes of the Bill's passage and government's support." THE VIDEO HERE:
Rev. Dr Lawrence Tetteh: “Vulnerable people are being lured into homosexuality" - Rev. Dr Lawrence Tetteh has alleged; cites Jamestown, Accra The founder of Worldwide Miracle Outreach also told TV3's 'Hot Issues' host that "homosexuality is an abomination" and added that 'a sin is sin.' He also applauded the proponents of the anti-LGBTQ Bill and warned politicians to be careful about how they deal with it because the religious community and chiefs are united in support of it. He added that it is the human rights of anti-LGBTQ campaigners to fight homosexuality and stressed that it is their moral and religious responsibility to oppose homosexuality. Dr. Lawrence Tetteh also condemned claims of LGBTQ rights being attached to foreign aid. He disagreed that homosexuality is an act between consenting adults and made a claim that vulnerable people are being lured into it because of poverty. He cited Jamestown in Accra to make a claim that people who were lured into LGBTQ are now sick. According to him, homosexuality is being "imposed" on Ghana and affirmed his support for the draft anti-LGBTQ law; said that the anti-LGBTQ Bill must stand. Whilst he said he could not be balanced of this subject, he spoke against violence that targeted LGBTQ individuals but disagreed that passage the Bill would promote violence. According to him, the church has not softened its stance and pointed out that the Pope only speaks for the Catholic Church and not the Church of Pentecost, the Methodist Church, and others.” THE VIDEO HERE:
Former Chief Justice, Sophia Akuffo,
"Don't shove homosexuality into my face"- former Chief Justice, Sophia Akuffo, has said in her latest anti-gay remarks that LGBTQ goes against our cultural norms. She said she won't accept it being seen in the public arena; added that a union between persons of same-sex cannot be called marriage. Madam Sophia Akuffo said that Ghana has not forced polygamy on the west and should not be forced to accept LGBTQ. She also added that "let's go slow with copying." On the anti-LGBTQ Bill, she said she had not read it but follows the discussion held by Parliament on the proposed legislation. She was interviewed by Bridget Otoo in an interview which was aired yesterday on Metro TV. This is the second time former Chief Justice, Sophia Akuffo has publicly made anti-LGBTQ Bill comments this year. VIDEO HERE:
Awulae Angama Tu-Agyan, the paramount chief of the Gwira Traditional Area at the Nzema East Municipality of the Western Region: Gwira Traditional Council to banish anyone supporting LGBTQ+ Awulae Angama Tu-Agyan, made this threat whilst also claiming that animals don't practice homosexuality. SEE VIDEO HERE
Prophet Kofi Oduro, who in 2020 blamed gays for Coronavirus (see second video), is here again showing his ignorance. "His misinformation during last Saturday's 'UnitedShowbiz' programme on UTV shows he needs sex education. Is he suggesting that STIs only affects LGBTQ people? Sex toys? This man lacks basic knowledge. Because how can you say things to suggest only LGBTQ people use sex toys. And his comments goes on to suggest that LGBT people who use sex toys don't clean them before using them. How is he able to determine the hygienic status of peoples sex toys. We condemn the homophobic rhetoric by Prophet Kofi Oduro which foster dehumanisation and further the degrading treatment that LGBTQI Ghanaians have been experiencing. Anti-LGBTQ personalities are raging a relentless campaign of fear mongering. This must stop!"
Melanie Nathan, Executive Director of African Human Rights Coalition is a qualified country of origin expert witness in the United States and global immigration courts, providing expert written country conditions reports and testimony for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, non-binary, LGBTQI + asylum seekers from 20 African Countries, to include activists, allies and human rights defenders. Melanie also consults multinational corporations regarding briefings and policy for operations and issue impacted by anti-homosexuality laws and country conditions. Nathan@AfricanHRC.org
Commentary and translations provided by RIGHTIFY, UGANDA