The recent declaration by the Catholic Bishops' Conference in support of the anti-LGBTQ bill under consideration in the Ghanaian parliament has underscored their stance that LGBTQI identities should not become normalized within Ghanaian society. This position aligns with the views previously expressed by numerous religious groups regarding the normalization of LGBTQI identities. Many of these groups also endorse the proposed legislation aimed at prohibiting LGBTQ activities.
In a significant development, Cardinal Peter Turkson has offered a nuanced perspective on this religious viewpoint, marking a notable shift in the discourse. Cardinal Turkson has articulated that while LGBTQI lifestyles and behaviours should not be criminalized, it is essential to respect cultural sensitivities. He acknowledges that a lack of education and misconceptions about Western influence has contributed to the political complexities surrounding this issue.
Cardinal Turkson emphasizes the need for a thorough and impartial discussion on this subject, advocating for the societal acceptance of LGBTQ individuals who are not criminals. He also points out that political and religious opinions, which may be influenced by perceptions of Western funding to promote certain freedoms, should not serve as a basis for criminalizing LGBTQ lifestyles.
In light of Cardinal Turkson's position, the viewpoints expressed by the Speakers of Parliament and the Catholic Bishops' Conference appear to be premature and not fully aligned with the perspectives of their highest ecclesiastical authorities. It is evident that LGBTQI individuals are not criminals, and no legislation should be enacted in Ghana to criminalize them on this basis.
Therefore, the current anti-LGBTQ bill in the Ghanaian parliament, which seeks to outlaw LGBTQ orientations, should not be misconstrued as a reflection of cultural or religious beliefs, but rather as a political strategy to engage in an economic confrontation with Western nations. Cardinal Turkson's stance serves as a reminder that religious beliefs should not restrict individuals' lifestyles and behaviours, and it calls for a broader understanding among religious communities that LGBTQ people are not criminals.
BY Isaac Ofori
Human Rights Advocate
BA, MA, MPhil, PhD Student (UEW, SCMS)