The Monday edition of the Daily Graphic carried at page 7 an article by one Stephen Apedo with the caption “The Homosexual debate”.
According to Mr Apedo, he gave a test to his students in Logic and Critical Thinking, a subject he apparently teaches.
The test was: if a group of eminent doctors wrote to Parliament that abortion should be legalised because we did not criminalise rights, what would be the reaction of his students.
According to our philosopher, 99 per cent of the class agreed with the view of the eminent doctors - the doctors must be right since they were authorities on health and well placed to make this decision.
Mr Apedo then likens his test scenario with the views expressed by a group of 18 ‘eminent’ Ghanaians (of which I am unfortunately a member) in their memorandum to Parliament on the LGBTQI+ Bill, urging Parliament to reject the Bill.
The implication is that the fact that they are eminent intellectuals in their various fields of endeavour does not, ipso facto, make their views right. This is definitely correct.
The challenge, however, is for Mr Apedo to demonstrate that the group of 18 is wrong by addressing the reasons that the group has given in its memorandum for the demand that the LGBTQI+ Bill be jettisoned by Parliament and showing those reasons to be wrong.
This philosopher woefully fails to do. Rather, in an amazing leap of illogical reasoning, our philosopher claims that “God legislated on morality, when he ruled that nobody should sleep with his neighbour’s wife, should not engage in incest and sodomy….”
He further states that the Catholic Church has ‘criminalised sex abuse, child pornography” and that “even peadophilia and sodomy has been criminalised by Cannon Law”!
Therefore, according to the teacher philosopher, our memo is without merit, even though he has not addressed any of the issues raised in the Memorandum of the group about the bill’s egregious violations of fundamental human rights guaranteed under our Constitution, the supreme law of the land.
Clearly, the reasons Mr Apedo advances to show group’s memorandum is without merit are grounded in religious morality, particularly Christian and Catholic morality. But that is precisely the problem with his article.
The point advanced by the group of 18 is that the Republic of Ghana is neither a Christian Theocratic Republic, nor an Islamic Republic such as Iran or Afghanistan, nor traditional monarchy/chiefdom. Ghana is a secular republic, and that is why Article 21 (1) (b) of the Constitution guarantees the right of every person to freedom of belief and freedom to practice any religion of one’s choice and to manifest such practice.
The simple meaning of this provision of our constitution is that the state has no business interfering in the beliefs, tenets and dogmas of any religious group (so long as they do not pose a danger to public health, public safety, the rights of individuals and the public interest generally).
It also means that the state shall not seek to impose the religious beliefs of any particular religious group or sect, even if its members constitute the overwhelming majority in the country, on the rest of society.
So our philosopher’s appeal to Canon Law and God’s legislation as a justification for the LGBTQI+ Bill exposes his lack of understanding of the issues at stake in this debate.
Under our constitution, no one is permitted to legislate as state law any particular religious belief on the population.
That does not mean that every individual, including our teacher in logic and critical thinking, is not entitled to hold to his religious beliefs firmly and passionately.
By all means do so. But it is a logical fallacy for him to argue that because Canon Law is against homosexuality, the state should criminalise homosexuality.
To put this point in another way, the philosopher should ask himself why adultery has not been criminalised by the state, even though God forbids “a man sleeping with another’s wife”!
Mr Apedo has not responded to even one of reasons the Group of 18 has advanced for its rejection of the LGBTQ+ Bill.
Indeed, it would not surprise me if he has not read the group’s memorandum to Parliament. What is obvious from a reading of his article is that there is nothing logical or pertaining to critical thinking in it. I pray that this is not the type of ‘logic and critical thinking’ he is teaching his captive students.