The National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for Madina, Mr Francis-Xavier Sosu, has called for a review of aspects of the draft Private Member’s Bill on lesbians, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQI+) to make the bill an improved one.
He also encouraged lawyers to be courageous to point out the issues of concern in the bill.
“It is my position that there are matters of concern in the Bill that need to be reviewed and reconsidered to make the Bill an improved one which is reflective and consistent with our current views on sanctions which must be more reformative than retributive,” he said.
Following the introduction of the Private Member’s Bill titled: The Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill 2021, from eight MPs, there has been varied opinions on the matter.
According to Mr Sosu, who is the National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP for Madina, some media reports sought to create “misleading headlines” attributed to him to suggest that the posture of the Speaker of Parliament, Mr Alban Bagbin, was not the view of Parliament.
‘I support bill’
In a statement issued last Sunday to clarify his position, Mr Sosu said he was in full support of the Bill.
“It is a great and bold attempt to bring sanity and finality to a practice we consider alien to our culture,” he said.
He said although leaders of the country had all taken a position on LGBTQI+, there had not been a clearer position on the matter until the introduction of the draft Bill.
“This is why I believe the Bill is a bold attempt to bring sanity in that space and bring finality to the debate,” he added.
Nevertheless, the MP believes that the bill has some issues and concerns which need to be reconsidered.
In the opinion of the human rights lawyer, misdemeanours associated with LGBTQI+ activities must go with non-custodial sentences such as community service or fines.
“I have also advocated in the alternative that we re-look at removing the minimum imprisonment terms and only set a maximum term of imprisonments to allow judges an opportunity to impose perhaps a discretionary number of days or weeks for some of such misdemeanours as well as possibly reduce the penalty units.
“The Bill does not also provide for mandatory treatment of such persons thrown into prison. This is in spite of our knowledge of the fact that homosexuality is higher in such confined prison facilities than open ones. The time has come where we must as a people ensure that our prisons are reformative and not retributive,” the MP said.
Mr Sosu said some people had wrongly judged him on statements he had made on television regarding the Bill, adding, “I have seen and read how many have taken the issues out of context to imply that I am not in support of the bill and that I am even against the Right Hon. Speaker on this Bill.”
Bringing clarity to his position he said: “For the avoidance of doubt, I am not against the promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill 2021 and I am not and will never be an advocate for gay rights although I have been a leading human rights advocate for over 10 years and counting.”
Mr Sosu said his position was that there was no human rights in LGBTQI+.