Ghana moves forward with anti-gay bill proposing 10-year prison sentence

Ghana moves forward with anti-gay bill proposing 10-year prison sentence

An anti-gay legislation submitted to Ghana’s parliament could propose up to 10 years in jail for LGBTQ+ people as well as groups and individuals who advocate for their rights, express sympathy or offer social or medical support. Support for intersex people would also be criminalised and the government could direct intersex people to receive “gender realignment” surgery, said the draft legislation.

“The object of the bill is to provide for proper human sexual rights and Ghanaian family values; proscribe and related activities; proscribe propaganda of advocacy for or promotion of LGBTTQQIAAOP+ and related activities,” the draft stated.

A leaked copy of the promotion of the Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values bill, widely circulated online and confirmed as authentic by diplomats with access to the draft bill, has sparked outrage and growing fear among human rights activists.

The bill would be the first major step in criminalising the sexual minorities and their supporters since independence from colonial rule.

The prospect of harsh new laws has been hailed by numerous MPs and supported by figures in President Nana Akufo-Addo’s government.

It follows a wave of repression against LGBTQ+ people in Ghana since the start of this year. In February, a community space offering support for sexual minorities was forced to close down amid a backlash from politicians, civil and religious groups and the media, and also led to a rise in arrests and abuse against people perceived to be gay or queer.

On Friday, Samuel Nartey George, an MP who has described gay rights as a “perversion” and led a group of lawmakers who drafted the bill, dismissed online condemnation of the bill as “uninformed”.

“Homosexuality is not a human right. It is a sexual preference,” he said in a post on Twitter. “We shall pass this bill through.”

Samuel Nartey George

Back in March, George revealed plans to create the now-leaked anti-LGBTQ+ bill on Facebook.

“We took our fight to uphold our traditions, culture and religious beliefs to the next level,” he said. “We have taken a stance and announced our intention to present a Private Members Bill to expressly criminalise and ban the advocacy and act of homosexuality in all its current and future forms. The proposed Bill would strengthen and augment existing legislation on the subject. We owe it to ourselves and the people of Ghana to uphold that which gives us our identity as a people.”

Foreign diplomats said that they have expressed significant concern over the bill to Ghana’s government. Parliament has not yet appointed a committee to review the draft legislation and the bill will likely be subject to various amendments before it is passed.

Nana Ama Agyemang Asante, a journalist and activist in Accra, said she was “stunned by the contents, the crudeness of the language, and the cruelty behind the intent” of the bill. “I have spent all my time as a journalist advocating for gay rights so I can’t believe that we have arrived at this point where they want to criminalize everything and everyone including the existence of allies, intersex and asexual folks.”

Among other aspects of the bill that has sparked condemnation, groups or individuals found to be funding groups deemed as advocating for LGBTQ+ rights or offering support could be prosecuted.

Marriage would be clearly defined in Ghanaian law as being between a male and female.

Media companies, online platforms and accounts which publish information which could be deemed to encourage children to explore any gender or sex outside of the binary categories of male and female could face 10 years in prison.

Since January, groups across public life, from politicians to journalists, civil and religious leaders, have led fierce condemnation of LGBTQ+ rights and support networks in Ghana. Ghana’s government promised new laws to prohibit pro-gay advocacy, amid hysteria over bolder efforts to establish support for sexual minorities. A group of eight lawmakers submitted the draft legislation to parliament on 29 June.

Amid growing clamour for a clampdown on those perceived to be promoting LGBTQ+ rights, 21 people were arrested in the city of Ho in March, at a training event for paralegals and other professionals working on supporting vulnerable groups. They were released on bail last month yet many of the defendants are living in safe houses for fear of the safety, with some disowned by family members and having lost their jobs.

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  1. Eddie
    July 26, 10:40 Reply

    Corruption is an issue. Unemployment fa. But noooo….attack the gays and everything will be alright 🙄.
    And the disenfranchised citizens would applaud the politicians for “fighting for the Lord”….. Some Africans just wanting to be stupid!

  2. Demi
    July 26, 13:20 Reply

    Wow, just wow… what a tragic government!!

  3. bamidele
    July 26, 15:34 Reply

    this is a news!
    Just ca two years ago, I was praising the Ghanaian politics for have no legal sanctions against same sex relationship, as long long as it occurs among consented adults. But now, the same Ghana slap me in the face with this crude plan. The Ghanaian govt, like nigerian govt, terribly cunning. They’re aware of their terrible, ineeffective governance, hence they distract the derailed, religious backward masses by upholding the antigay laws. Sad!

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