Group kicks against LGBTQ Bill

BY: Emmanuel Ebo Hawkson
Mr Akoto Ampaw, a member of the concerned Ghanaian citizens reading a statement on behalf of the group during the media briefing. Picture: EDNA SALVO-KOTEY
Mr Akoto Ampaw, a member of the concerned Ghanaian citizens reading a statement on behalf of the group during the media briefing. Picture: EDNA SALVO-KOTEY

A bill currently before Parliament which seeks to criminalise and impose jail terms on lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders and queers (LGBTQ+) and people who promote such activities in the country has been described as a flagrant violation of the 1992 Constitution, as it seeks to curtail freedom of expression and the media, the right to assemble and the right to join any association of one’s choice.

Consequently, a group made up of academics, lawyers, researchers, civil society organisations (CSOs) and human rights activists has kicked against it.

According to group, the bill — Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill — when passed into law, would erode fundamental human rights, as enshrined in the 1992 Constitution, and send Ghana to the dark ages of lawlessness and intolerance.

The group, made up of 18 members, has already submitted a 30-page memorandum to Parliament, detailing what it described as the unconstitutionality of the bill.

At a press conference in Accra yesterday, the group said its advocacy was not about whether lesbianism or gayism was right or wrong but rather it was worried about the blatant violations of human rights, as contained in the bill.

“The bill violates virtually all the key fundamental freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution, namely, the right to freedom of speech and expression, the right to assemble, freedom of association and the right to organise, the right to freedom from discrimination and the right to human dignity,” it said.

It has, therefore, called on Parliament to reject the bill, adding that “it has no place in our constitutional democratic Republic”.

Members

The group include lawyer Mr Akoto Ampaw; author, scholar and former Director of the UN Economic Commission for Africa, Prof. Emerita Takyiwaa Manuh; a communications and media expert, Prof. Kwame Karikari; the Dean of the University of Ghana (Legon) School of Law, Prof. Raymond Atuguba, and the Dean of the University of Ghana School of Information and Communication Studies, Prof. Audrey Gadzekpo.

The Director of the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, Professor Dzodzi Tsikata; the Executive Director of the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), Professor H. Kwasi Prempeh, and a former Executive Director of CDD-Ghana, Prof. Kofi Gyimah-Boadi, are also members of the group.

Others are Dr Rose Mensah-Kutin, Dr Yao Graham, Mr Kwasi Adu Amankwah, Dr Kojo Asante, Mr Kingsley Ofei-Nkansah, Mr Akunu Dake, Mr Tetteh Hormeku-Ajie, Dr Charles Wereko-Brobby, Dr Joseph Asunka and Nana Ama Agyemang Asante.

Religious dogma

According to the group, the fact that some religious groups found the activities of LGBTQ persons offensive did not mean such persons had no rights or should not be protected by the 1992 Constitution and other laws of the land.

“Our Constitution forbids the imposition of a religious dogma on Ghanaians, whether Christian, Islamic or traditional,” it said.

Also it said the bill sought to demonise LGBTQs as paedophiles, but records showed that most people in the country who abused children were heterosexuals.

It was its contention that the current legal regime, including the penal code, adequately dealt with issues of paedophilia or people who molested and abused children, and, therefore, there was no need for the bill.

Bill

The Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill, 2021 is a private member’s bill initiated by eight MPs — seven from the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), with the other from the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP).

They are Sam Nartey-George (NDC, Ningo-Prampram), Della Adjoa Sowah (NDC, Kpando), Emmanuel Bedzrah (NDC, Ho West), Alhassan Sayibu Suhuyini (NDC, Tamale North), Rita Naa Odoley Sowah (NDC, La Dadekotopon), Helen Adjoa Ntoso (NDC, Krachi West), Rockson-Nelson Dafeamekpor (NDC, South Dayi) and John Ntim Forjour (NPP, Assin South).

Section six of the bill makes it an offence for anybody to engage in sexual intercourse with the same sex, marry someone of the same sex or someone who has undergone a gender or sex reassignment.

It further makes it an offence for anyone to hold himself or herself as an LGBTQ or go through a gender assignment or create a sexual category other than the one assigned to him or her at birth.

Per the bill, anyone who engages in any the activities mentioned above commits a second-degree felony, and upon conviction will be liable to a fine of up to GHc60,000 or a term of imprisonment of up to five years.

Section 15 of the bill bans any LGBTQ group, society, association or club, while Section 16 prohibits people from forming, registering, operating, supporting or participating in any LGBTQ group or activity.

The bill imposes a jail term of up to 10 years on anyone who flouts the above-mentioned provisions.

Section five of the bill also makes it a must for people to report any LGBTQ activity to the police.

Among other provisions, the bill prohibits LGBTQs from adopting children, voids any LGBTQ marriage and prohibits the promotion of LGBTQ activities in any media platform or any public means.