Religious leaders call for further discussions on anti-gay bill

Social News Religious leaders call for further discussions on anti-gay bill

Some religious leaders in the Bono region are calling for further discussions about the Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values bill by various stakeholders before it finally becomes a law.

These leaders are of the opinion that the bill, also called anti-gay bill, must be thoroughly looked again to ensure that peoples basic rights are not infringed upon flagrantly.

They believe that some portions of the bill appear to be driven by emotions and do not seem to be accommodating the fundamental human rights of a section of the populace.

Social dialogue
These religious leaders made this point in separate interviews in Sunyani on the sidelines of a two-day social dialogue with religious and faith-based leaders on human rights and rights-based approach to protecting and respecting the rights of sexual minorities in Ghana.

It was organised by Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), an independent, not-for-profit research and advocacy think tank, working to advance democracy, good governance, and inclusive economic growth.

“This programme has enlightened us about what this bill really entails. We have understood that everyone, including LGBTQI+, has their fundamental human rights enshrined in the 1992 Constitution. We’re also talking about tolerance and so society should be able to tolerate them irrespective of their sexual orientation. We don’t have to abuse or stigmatize them”, Pastor Victor Donkor of House of Faith Ministries told journalists.

Pastor Donkor also called for a second look at the punishments prescribed under the bill to allow for some flexibility because they also have their rights, under Chapter 5 of the country’s constitution

For his part, Rev Emmanuel Nyamador of Mount Zion Assemblies of God Church at Yawhima near Sunyani said the state should not pass any law that suppresses anyone because their sexual orientation, adding that: “The LGBTQ+ people are also human beings and they’re part of us. Under no circumstances should we discriminate against them.”

“The bill, as passed by parliament, is so rigid in my view. What I want parliament to do is to go into it again and amend some aspects of it. We must understand that those LGBTQ+ people are also human beings. Most of us had not read or had access to the bill prior to this engagement session and after being taken through, we realised that the punishments prescribed by the bill are too harsh”, he also said.

Ideas sharing
Mr. Michael Augustus Akagbor, the Senior Programmes Officer of CDD-Ghana in-charge of Human Rights and Social Inclusion, also told journalists in an interview that the programme sought to share ideas on the way forward with regards to the conversation about the anti-gay bill passed by parliament quite recently.

“This is our first engagement with the clergy on this issue and it has really been successful from our perspective on information sharing amongst ourselves. We have understood that the Bible is very important as it guides our spiritual growth and development, and for our salvation but once we live in a democratic society, it is the constitution that guarantees us the rights. So, when issues of LBGTQI+ are being discussed, we should also be mindful that there are human lives at stake”, he said.

He said if the participants could impart the knowledge gained at the programme to their respective congregations or followers more people will be abreast of their fundamental human rights and the need to protect the rights of others.

Richard Kofi Boahen
Richard Kofi Boahen

Bono, Bono East and Ahafo CorrespondentPage: RichardBoahen

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