There has been unbridled activism for LGBTQI rights through various interventions and avenues, some even to the level of judicial intervention on the premises of the law that, discrimination based on sexual orientation violates fundamental rights. The activists argue that Ghana should embrace and acknowledge LGBTQIs, as they are matured and adults in their operations. On the global scale, this advocacy gained much prominence resulting in the US Supreme Court landmark decision on gay marriages, which was described as a historic and unprecedented development in US Civil Rights relations in generations. Thus, bringing LGBTQI rights into the facade in Global affairs. The advocacy for LGBTQI rights in the West and its advancement pervades, even in political circles. Mind you, these exclusive rights do not emancipate gay members from harsh realities of homophobia and perpetration against them. Africa as a whole cannot boast of a general alignment towards a gay-friendly society, nonetheless, could it be assertively stated that almost half of the 54 African Countries have legalized this act. South Africa and Botswana are the pioneering artists championing this status by decriminalizing the prohibition of consensual same-sex activities.
In Ghana, with a firm grip on morality and culture, the country looks to be unperturbed by the global stance on LGBTQI and its whirlwind. Thankfully, astute personalities and most especially leaders of this country have stood firmly on the grounds that they wouldn’t even consider a discussion on this issue let alone to deliberate on it or give it any form of recognition. An instance is a total denial by all four Presidents in the 4th Republic from associating themselves with this act. It is based on this assertion that state-sponsored homophobia thrives in Ghana and the violence against this act is ubiquitously engrained in the Ghanaian society. But, is the mere rejection on the part of leaders enough? We argue that governments can be quick to deny the demands of the LGBTQIs, but if statutory institutional principles are not enacted, those positions on the issues might only turn out to be a political gimmick or mere rhetoric. If it were the election period, will politicians have boldly chastise it? Embedded in the legal frameworks are laws and policies that promote discrimination against LGBTQI members, that the only accepted mode of sexual intercourse is sex per ‘vaginam’ which is the use of penile penetration through the vagina. It states that consensual same-sex regulations are a criminal offense within the remit of the law, under Section 104(1b) of the Criminal offenses Act 1960(Act 29). Also, statutory marriages are strictly between a man and a woman. From a cursory glimpse of the marriage Act CAP 127, Section 68 (2) and Section 50 (1), is evident that Ghana does not permit any form of consensual same-sex union. And it contradicts the constitutional values and customs of the indigenes of Ghana. This rationalization has also been surmised under Section 99 of the first enactment above that, unnatural carnal knowledge is proved by the least degree of penetration.
However, the LGBTQI advocates, clarify the above provision as vague, shrouded in uncertainty, and patent ambiguities with respect to the boundaries of its proscription. To them, the provisions of the law do not debunk homosexual expression in general. They argue that any form of homosexuality that doesn’t exhaust the above provision “unnatural carnal knowledge”, will not be liable to the criminal laws of Ghana and that no lesser act of sexual gratification would suffice to establish carnal knowledge. Therefore, the activities associated with lesbianism, hermaphrodites, transsexual, bisexual, oral sex, sex through the anus of a female by a male, etc. do not necessarily meet the requirement of the penetration sex established under Section 99 of the Criminal Law, and therefore, are not culpable for offending any law, opening the laws to further interpretations and contestations. Furthermore, they argue that the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, contains a broad anti-discrimination clause and Article 17 under which many minority interests have been sheltered since the inception of this constitution, also grant them certain privileges from which they can enjoy. They hold the view that the expansion of that clause and its implications on marginalized groups like the LGBTQI will enable them to achieve a legitimate position. The principle against non-discrimination is also revamped by sections 14 and 87 of the Labour Act, 2003 (ACT 651) of Ghana. Lastly, the bill of rights in Chapter 5 Article 33(5) may enable them to establish and pass the inherent in a democracy test, if Ghana is a truly democratic country.
What is the way forward?
In Ghana, the main thing we need to fear is fear itself and what needs to change is our own changeability. Ghana is at war, yes, we are in a war of cultures, a war between indigenous people and western civilization. The crisis of efficiency in the continent is a failure of transplanted western customs and practices to inform our own style of living against natural makeup. Now, western consumption patterns are transferred more effectively, than western production techniques, western tastes are acquired more than western skills, profit motive acquired without the efficient calculus of entrepreneurship, and the capitalist greed was internalized sooner than capitalist discipline. The compact between Africa and the twentieth century and its items are all wrong. To us, an attempt to modernize Africa without consulting cultural continuities is an attempt to start the process of dis-Africanising Africa and a shred of evidence to raid social turbulence to let loose upon a continent. Interestingly this LGBT+ thing is NOT part of western culture either, it is a group of people who have capitalized on liberalism to promote a certain way of life that the majority of society actually finds abhorrent. However, due to the fear of being called narrow-minded most of the people in the west and their leaders have become TOO-open-minded. When you become too-open minded the right thing becomes wrong and the wrong thing becomes right because you will be coerced and convinced to abandon your long-held values.
On a lighter note, a majority of Ghanaians are of the assertion that the fight against LGBTQI must be made on the basis of the values with which society wants to live by and pass on to the next generation. The west is becoming increasingly ultra-liberal and Ghanaians just want to be conservative with some liberal values to ensure some level of progressiveness. So we are not homophobic, this act is offensive, and Ghanaians cannot be practiced in Ghana. Some concerned citizens claim that, if LGBTQI members had certain rights, society has an even greater right to decide which values and acts it accepts. “If the majority of people in Ghana feel like this is something we do not want in our society, then as a very minor part of society they can do these things in hiding but we will not accept them, legalize them or give them the same privileges those who conform to the natural acts enjoy. Sometimes, the state has to adopt the theory of Utilitarianism- the greatest good first. The comfort of a small group of people cannot make the rest of us uncomfortable” Joojo Enu Ayam. He further asserts that “If you look at the activities of the LGBT+ in the west, you will see that they are always asking for more rights and privileges for their ever-increasing nonconformists. Where do we draw the line? Now they are basically questioning the existence of gender and introducing theories such as gender neutrality. They are even launching an attack against the nuclear family system. This shows that they are out to corrupt the human race to a point we would not be able to recognize ourselves anymore. Immediately we accept these people, be rest assured that, that would not be the end. They would find new ways to corrupt society, especially the young ones”. These tumultuous times call for us to rethink, uphold certain values and reshape our societies anew, that which incorporates the best of its own cultures. We need a youth that possesses a means of production rather than a means of destruction. This distinct form of abomination, crystallizing into a kind of endemic living with special prerogatives and prerequisites, should be uprooted from its etymology by not having any basis of law.
Furthermore, the most serious form of decay seems to be institutional decay, this very decomposition of western heritage has complex consequences for the future. We need institutional principles that can triumph western secularism and its accompanied declining moral standards, no matter how glittering and ostentatious it may be. Going forward we can establish that if any sexual approach employed, excludes procreation outright, as against the order of nature, that act should be nullified. We also need an untenable law that reiterates our firm resolve to fight this heinous crime with the succinctly entrenched, cogent, and well-articulated argument on legal premises to abrogate such an act. We need strong institutions and not strong men.
We need to:
- Reform our laws to make it specific as to what is lawful and what is not with regards to marriage, public displays of affection, and its representation in the media.
- Make it clear to this group what rights they have and what rights they do not have in order to prevent future requests and negotiations.
- Make it clear to the international community that we as a sovereign nation have more pressing matters than this and that we are not attacking this group or denying them their fundamental human rights but we are not going to legalize them or give them the opportunity to corrupt the values we hold in high esteem.
We should embark on a positive social reform that is imperative of looking inward at our fundamental makeup, an inward imperative of a more systematic investigation into the cultural preconditions of each piece of legislation, and cultural feasibility on the issue of LGBTQI and outward towards the natural course of humanity. Lastly, we concede that the world of ideologies is now primarily Eurocentric even in values and norms. An increase in poverty and economic frustrations has contributed to too many African countries succumbing to this inhumane act, due to the cultural gap between its new structures and ancient values. Yes, modernization and westernization are two miscible elements and Africa cannot go back completely, to its pre-colonial starting point but there may be a case for re-establishing contacts with familiar landmarks of yesteryears and then re-starting the journey of modernization under indigenous impetus. Let us fight back to avert the demise of our own values, for in their immediate consequences decay and instability are a matter of lament, but in the longer repercussions, they may be a matter for celebrations. For verily, I say unto you, that unless a seed falls and die it abides alone.
This work is opinionated and in no way in a conflict between anyone. The authors are only contributing to the growing debate over the issues of gender and the legalization of same-sex marriages or acts. The authors blame the political structures and the constitutional crisis we created for ourselves in Ghana as the cause of all these sadistic practices emerging. It is good for the LGBTQI group to demand activities contrary to the natural norms, but not all demands must be granted, especially when such demands have the tendency to degrade the state. For instance, laws deliver JUSTICES and protect us, but not all laws are just. We must sometimes let MORALITY leads. Hence, Ghana has not matured to the extent of granting the LGBTQIs activists their demands. We are a growing democracy and might degenerate into a weaker state if we began to tolerate certain practices. We stand for the interest of Ghanaians!!
1Frank Afful is a National Service Person in the Parliament of Ghana and a prospective LL.M Student at the University of Leeds, UK. Contact: 0557141606, [email protected]
2Issah Musah Aziba is an MPhil candidate at the University of Ghana, Legon.