Eight members of Ghana’s Parliament have jointly submitted a private bill to strongly push for the criminalization of LGBTQI+ activities in the country.
The bill, which they term as a ‘Bill on the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values’, was presented to Speaker, Alban Bagbin on Tuesday, June 29, 2021.
The proponents of the bill want the promotion, advocacy, funding, and acts of homosexuality to be criminalized in the country.
The Member of Parliament for Ningo-Prampram constituency, Sam George, who led the MPs to make the presentation, said it “is a landmark legislation that has taken the last 14 weeks working with a fantastic team of professionals to put together. It is in my humble opinion a world-class piece of legislation which should be reference material for other Parliaments seeking to pass similar legislation.”
In recent times, the LGBTQI+ community in Ghana have featured prominently in news, especially after the arrest of 21 activists in the Volta Regional capital, Ho.
Prior to that, police officers raided a house at Ashongman in Accra that was being used as an office of LGBQI+ Rights and shelter for the LGBTQI+ community.
The two incidents reignited public debate on the subject with some legislators including the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, publicly declaring their interest in criminalizing all forms of LGBTQI+ activities.
The bill, presented to the Speaker, is the first major step taken towards the criminalization.
The bill will be assessed by a parliamentary committee after a referral from the Speaker, and subsequently debated on the floor of the House.
“The Bill respects the fundamental human rights of all persons, including those found engaging in the prohibited acts, but spells out a rigid punitive measure in line with our social, cultural and religious stance as a nation. Let me be clear here, homosexuality is not a human right. It is a lifestyle choice. A sexual preference,” Sam George stated.
The other members of parliament that joined in presenting the bill include, Emmanuel Bedzrah (MP, Ho West) Della Adjoa Sowah (MP, Kpando), John Ntim Fordjour (MP, Assin South), Alhassan Sayibu Suhuyini (MP, Tamale North), Helen Adjoa Ntoso (MP, Krachi West), Rita Naa Odoley Sowah (MP, La Dadekotopon) and Rockson Nelson Dafeamekpor (MP, South Dayi).
LGBTQI 'worse' than COVID-19, we'll pass law criminalising it by end of 2021 – Bagbin
The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, after receiving the bill, indicated that a new law to criminalise Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Queer (LGBTQ) activities in Ghana will be passed by the end of 2021.
Worse than COVID-19
Describing LGBTQI activities as a pandemic, Alban Bagbin said it “must be fought by all of us.”
“I can tell you that it is more than COVID-19, and I am happy that our beloved country, Ghana, is together in this. The President has spoken, our traditional leaders have spoken, our religious leaders have spoken together, and Ghanaians have spoken with one voice, and we don't want to do anything that has to do with LGBTQ activities. I will always do what is right because good will always triumph over evil.”
Homosexuality won't be legalised under Nana Addo – Presidency
Following the Ashongman LGBTQI office raid and renewed pressure on the executive arm of government on the matter, President Akufo-Addo stressed that marriage between persons of the same sex will not be legalized under his presidency.
“For same-sex marriage to be legalized in Ghana, it will not happen in my time as President,” he stated emphatically.
LGBTQI rights in Ghana
Some persons have called for a specific law in Ghana to make homosexuality a criminal offence.
Although there are some provisions in the Criminal Code under which a homosexual can be prosecuted, especially for having intercourse with a partner, the belief is that a specific law must be enacted to declare homosexual relationships illegal.
Others have also called for a review of Ghana's laws to be more accommodating of minority groups, as many countries are decriminalizing homosexuality.
In February 2020 for instance, the then Speaker of Ghana's Parliament, Prof. Mike Oquaye, warned the World Bank against homosexuality conditions in development assistance to Ghana.