Debunking need for legislating against LGBTQ+ rights

Debunking need for legislating against LGBTQ+ rights

The whole premise of the Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill seems to be based on a series of misunderstandings and fears.

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Let’s examine these misconceptions. 

The Member of Parliament (MP) for Ningo-Prampram, Sam Nartey George, spearheading the bill, said the idea first came about when an advocacy centre for gay rights was set up in Accra. The dictionary definition of advocacy is as follows:

“Advocacy is the act of supporting a cause. It means giving people ways to speak out about things that negatively affect them.”

As a human rights lawyer, I advocate that individuals should be treated with respect. This includes those who have committed a crime. I advocate that they should be treated humanely and given a fair trial regardless of their crime. It does not mean that I support criminality.

The same is true of the LGBTQ + community. An individual can advocate the rights of people in this community to be respected. It does not mean that by supporting their right to humane treatment one is promoting homosexual activity.

Sexual orientation

Sam George further goes on to say that if the law isn’t passed, the innocence of children will be threatened.

Let’s examine these points and see why these fears are misguided.

To begin with, sexual orientation isn’t something which can be changed at will like a pair of shoes. It is something innate within each individual.

Anybody who considers themselves to be heterosexual cannot be persuaded to be homosexual.

Why would any individual choose to be gay given the attitudes of Ghanaian society? Why choose to be ostracised? It makes no sense. 

Proposals

Equally, nobody from the LGBTQ + community would consider the promotion of a lifestyle which causes them so much anguish. Rather, they wish to advocate the rights of this marginalised community.

Hence, the provision in the bill for a term of three to five years imprisonment for “promoting LGBTQ + activities” makes no sense either, as we have already discussed why this action would be both improbable and unnecessary.

The bill further proposes three to five years imprisonment for anyone who teaches about LGBTQ + activities. Why is teaching about LGBTQ + activities so threatening? Isn’t it better that people, young and old, understand what being gay or transgender means? Anybody, for religious or other reasons, could opt out but surely knowledge rather than myth and gossip is a good thing?

Maybe if sex education was better taught in Ghana, there would be fewer teenage pregnancies. Hiding everything under the table leads to bad outcomes for society.

Confusion

The confusion between ‘advocacy’ and ‘promotion’ seems to be the problem with this bill and I hope I have outlined clearly why this is a grave mistake to make. Once this is clarified, surely it should be obvious to all why the right to follow one’s sexual orientation in private with a consensual partner is enshrined in the Constitution.

In fact, Sam George himself, in an interview with Joy News several years ago, clearly stated that the Constitution protects the rights of all individuals, gay or otherwise. He also said that, in his opinion, there were far more urgent problems to deal with in Ghana and that addressing the issue of LGBTQ + rights was a mere diversion.

“When we have pertinent issues of water, power, potential petrol prices going up….look, these are the things which bother the nation. Irrespective of my personal opinions on homosexuals, the Constitution of this country remains supreme and the Constitution of this country enjoins that everybody has rights and that their rights must be protected.”

From the above quotation, he has clearly stated that regardless of his own opinion, LGBTQ+ rights supplant individual personal beliefs. His statement was correct at the time and is still pertinent today.

Given the dire financial straits in which the economy of Ghana finds itself at the moment, it would be very foolish for anybody to ignore the possibility that the country could be sanctioned by the World Bank for introducing a law which discriminates against the LGBTQ+ community and criminalises their lifestyle.

According to the Finance Minister, $3.8 billion in funding could be withheld if the bill is made law. This is because the United Nations (UN), via the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, has made illegal the discrimination of any human being, irrespective of their beliefs, religion or social background, including sexual orientation.

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As a democratic nation, we should adhere to these principles and follow the Constitution.

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