Four political parties have expressed their support for the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill, 2021 which seeks to criminalise Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI+) activities in the country.
A fifth party, however, has said it is against the bill in its entirety, and that it should be thrown out of Parliament.
The parties in support of the bill are the National Democratic Congress (NDC), the Convention People’s Party (CPP), the National Democratic Party (NDP) and the All People’s Congress (APC), while the Liberal Party of Ghana (LPG) is opposed to the bill.
In separate interviews with the Daily Graphic, the parties based their arguments on the form and sanctions regime of the bill, vis-a-bis LGBTQI+ activities in the country, and what the passage or otherwise of the bill held for the country.
According to the NDC, its position on the matter was not different from what the late President John Evans Atta Mills and former President John Mahama had said, and declared its abhorrence for the practice.
For the CPP, while it was against the practice, it was of the conviction that the sanctions in the bill were too harsh and needed a review.
The APC said it supported the bill to the core and would not tolerate the practice of LGBTQI+ in the country.
On the other hand, the LPG said it was against the law in its entirety, for which reason it should be thrown out of Parliament.
It wondered what the sponsors of the bill sought to gain by jailing culprits, as that would not solve the problem.
NDC position unchanged
The National Chairman of the NDC, Mr. Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, explained that although the party had not discussed the current bill, its position had not changed from what former Presidents Mills and Mahama stated while in government.
In November 2011, the late former President Mills had declared that the NDC government would never legalise homosexuality, adding that Ghana was committed to upholding human rights, as provided for by the Constitution.
“I, as President of this nation, will never initiate or support any attempts to legalise homosexuality in Ghana,” he had said.
Speaking through the then Minister of Information, Mr. Mahama Ayariga, former President Mahama had described the act as a crime punishable under the laws of Ghana.
“… The laws of Ghana appall and criminalise homosexuality; there is no dispute about that. Homosexuality conduct, which is unnatural carnal knowledge of one person or another, is criminal and punishable by the laws of Ghana,” he said.
Mr. Ampofo said those two positions were consistent with the party’s.
He said Ghanaians respected their culture and traditions, adding: “We cannot import foreign culture hook, line and sinker.”
NDP says it’s abominable
The General Secretary of the NDP, Alhaji Mohammed Frimpong, described homosexuality as abominable, adding: “The NDP frowns and looks down on it. We should not waste time giving oxygen to the debate.”
He said the argument that the international community would look down on the country if the bill was passed was neither here nor there.
On the issue of human rights, he said every right had its limitation and wondered why those basing their arguments on human rights were not talking about incest.
“The NDP is totally against it,” he declared.
CPP seeks total rejection
For her part, the Chairperson of the CPP, Nana Akosua Frimpomaa Sarpong-Kumankumah, called on Ghanaians to reject the practice entirely, saying it was against Ghana’s culture.
She, however, said sentencing culprits was too harsh and so that aspect of the bill needed a review.
She suggested that counselling and therapy for victims were the best solutions, especially in schools.
According to her, jailing persons caught in such acts would worsen the situation because they would mingle with other inmates and end up wooing them into it.
Nana Sarpong-Kumankumah said she did not foresee any political party in the country entertaining LGBTQI+ activities.
APC preaches procreation
The Leader of the APC, Mr. Hassan Ayariga, said it was not for nothing that God created males and females for procreation; therefore, any practice that would halt procreation should not be tolerated.
He wondered why the countries pushing for the adoption of LGBTQI+ were not promoting polygamy in those jurisdictions but found it as a crime.
“LGBTQI+ is barbaric and against our traditional and moral values. Everybody has a right but not a right to abuse it or impose your rights on others,” he said.
Mr. Ayariga said the practice of LGBTQI+ was a sign of the end times.
LPG opposes bill
On the LPG’s position, Mr. Akpaloo said jailing culprits caught in such acts would compound the problem.
According to him, conditions in the country’s prisons would contribute to the problem, as it would serve as nurturing grounds for enticing young ones into LGBTQI+ practice.
He wondered if separate prisons would be built for LGBTQI+ persons who would be jailed or they would be put in existing prisons.
“If we need to solve the problem, we have to tackle the root cause, which is poverty,” he said.
Mr. Akpaloo suggested that instead of seeking to punish culprits, emphasis should be placed on educating the populace on the hazards of practising LGBTQI+.
Although the New Patriotic Party (NPP) is yet to issue an official statement on the debate, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has, on a number occasions, said that legalising same-sex marriage will not happen under his watch.
At the induction of a new Anglican Archbishop at the St Micheal and All Angels Cathedral in Asante Mampong on February 27, this year, the President said: “I have said this before; let me in conclusion stress again that it will not be under the Presidency of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo that same-sex marriage will be legal, that same-sex marriage will be legalised in Ghana. It will never happen in my time as President.
Let me repeat it: it will never happen in my time as President.”
Earlier, in April 2018, the Director of Communications at the Presidency, Mr. Eugene Arhin, had recalled what President Akufo-Addo said that it would not be under his Presidency that same-sex marriage would be legalised in the country.
“For the avoidance of doubt, President Akufo-Addo has never stated anywhere that under his Presidency men will marry men and women will marry women,” a statement signed by Mr. Arhin said.
Again, in an interview with Al Jazeera in 2017, during which President Akufo-Addo addressed a series of national, continental and global issues, he said the issue of same-sex relationships was not on the agenda of the country.
Speaker‘s position clear
The Speaker of Parliament, Mr. Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, has also made his position on homosexuality clear.
On June 28, 2021, he gave an indication that a new law to criminalise LGBTQI+ activities in the country would be passed by the end of 2021.
He said the practice, which was strongly abhorred by Ghanaians, would not be allowed to take root in the country.
He said that when a group of MPs presented the private member’s bill that seeks to establish a regime for the prohibition of all LGBTQ+ activities.
“I am very clear in my mind that the Parliament of Ghana will pass this bill [to criminalise LGBTQI+]. I have gone through it and I will confirm that the bill will be a reference point for many countries. It has gone through all the provisions of the Constitution, laws and international obligations,” the Speaker stated.
Describing LGBTQI+ activities as a pandemic, Mr. Bagbin said it “must be fought by all of us”.
“I can tell you that it is more than COVID-19, and I am happy that our beloved country, Ghana, is together in this. The President has spoken, our traditional leaders have spoken, our religious leaders have spoken together and Ghanaians have spoken with one voice. We don’t want to do anything that has to do with LGBTQ+ activities. I will always do what is right because good will always triumph over evil,” he added.
The sponsors of the bill in Parliament are the NDC MP for Ningo-Prampram, Mr. Sam Nartey George; Mr. Emmanuel Bedzrah (NDC, Ho West); Ms. Della Adjoa Sowah (NDC, Kpando); Alhaji Alhassan Sayibu Suhuyini (NDC, Tamale North); Ms. Helen Adjoa Ntoso (NDC, Krachi West); Ms. Rita Naa Odoley Sowah (NDC, La Dadekotopon); Mr. Rockson Nelson Dafeamekpor (NDC, South Dayi) and the NPP MP for Assin South, Rev. John Ntim Fordjour.
The proponents of the bill presented it to the Speaker of Parliament on June 29, 2021, who subsequently referred it to the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.
As of October 7, this year, the committee had received more than 124 memoranda on the bill from members of the public.