Ghana at Crossroads Over Anti-LGBTQIA+ Bill

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Earlier this week, Ghana’s parliamentarians debated proposed legislation that would criminalise being queer.

The suggested “Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values” bill would be inclusive of regulations that advocate for conversion therapy, criminalise support for LGBTQIA+ communities, and impose longer jail sentences.

According to the draft bill, it was the January 31st opening of an LGBTQIA+ advocacy resource centre in Ghana’s capital, Accra, that sparked the recent resistance and debate. In attendance were supporters of the centre, including EU delegates and the Australian High Commissioner to Ghana. However, this support was met with immense backlash from ultra-religious and highly conservative Ghanaians.

Notably, the most vocal group of opponents have comprised of the Christian Council, the National Chief Imam, the National Coalition for Proper Human Sexual Rights and Family Values, and also the Catholic Bishop’s Conference. They have called for the arrest and prosecution of those involved in the opening of Accra’s advocacy centre.

Despite the hostility, those advocating for the centre are still championing its importance and protesting the unjust nature of the proposed bill.

LGBTQIA+ Rights Ghana director and founder, Alex Kofi Donkor, highlighted the absurdity of the suggested laws, arguing:

“If an LGBTQ person is abused by other Ghanaians, and this LGBTQ person goes to the hospital, and then the doctor even treats this person, the bill is criminalising the doctor.

Alex Kofi Donkor

In response to the bill human rights group, RightifyGhana, tweeted “In Ghana, homophobia is being promoted by religious, political and media personalities. The media especially participates and enables homophobia.”

Currently, the bill is being debated in parliament and, if passed, President Nana Akufo-Addo will either sign or veto it. However, legal experts say a veto would be highly unlikely, given that Akufo-Addo has publicly declared his disapproval of gay marriage. Moreover, independent research group, Afrobarometer, showed that just 7% of Ghanaians 2016 tolerant of different sexual identity or orientation.

But this statistic is hardly fresh. In fact, it sounds familiar; globally, 69 countries have criminalised homosexuality. Unsurprisingly, 34 of these countries are in Africa.

Phoebe Egoroff

Founder and of Jurist International, a website focusing on the latest developments in international human rights and criminal law.

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