The ‘Big Three’ bodies in Ghana ‘opposed’ to the anti-gay bill

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On Wednesday, February 28, 2024, the Parliament of Ghana passed the Promotion of Human Sexual Rights and Family Values Bill, widely known as the Anti-LGBT+ Bill.

While the anti-gay bill appears to enjoy the support of the majority of Ghanaians, some notable civil society organizations have raised issues with the bill and have called for it not to be assented into law in its current state.

 

 

 

The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) – the ombudsman of Ghana, is among the groups who have opposed the anti-gay bill in its current form.

 

 

The Ghana Catholic Bishop Conference and the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) have also spoken out against the bill.

Here are the reasons these groups are against the anti-gay bill:

What the CDD has said about the bill:

CDD-Ghana is, perhaps, the foremost civil society organisation leading the charge for the anti-gay bill to be dropped.

The group has called on President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and urged him not to assent to the bill.

The CDD, which is leading a Human Rights Coalition against the bill, known as the Big 18, has said that the proposed legislation undermines fundamental human rights protected by the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, encompassing the rights to dignity, freedom of speech and association, procession participation, academic freedom, equality, and non-discrimination.

Professor Audrey Gadzekpo, the Board Chair of CDD-Ghana, has cautioned that any alteration to these rights could potentially jeopardise Ghana’s democratic principles, urging citizens to recognise the profound significance of the issue.

“Once our pillars of democracy rest to prevent the tyranny of the majority, depending on where we find ourselves, and on any given issue, we can all experience the feeling of being minorities. The rights guaranteed in the constitution are, therefore, our only protector from majoritarian tyranny,” she said.

The academic added, “The assertion by the proponents of the Anti-LGBTQ+ Bill that because the majority of Ghanaians are allegedly in favour of the bill justifies its passage into laws is untenable. Ghana is a secular and multi-religious country,”

What the Catholic Bishops Conference has said:

The Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference is the only religious group who have raised concerns about some of the clauses in the anti-LGBT bill.

The bishops are particularly not happy about the provision under the bill, which prescribes jail terms for individuals based on their sexual orientation.

Most Rev. Matthew Kwasi Gyamfi, President of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference, has reiterated the long-held position by Catholic Bishops that incarceration will not eradicate homosexuality but potentially worsen it.

He told Accra-based Citi FM (February 29) that the church, despite their reservation, supports the bill.

He cited the instance of jailing homosexuals and sending them to typically crowded prisons, where they could potentially spread the orientation or have a field day practising the proscribed act.

“We think that in the case of this particular law and the way it is being implemented, being placed in prison as the punishment that they have chosen is not going to solve the problem,” he cautioned.

He added that the fact that they would be released after serving time comes with the risk of continuing where they left off.

“And then they practice this (in prisons) and come out as more experts at it than when you sent them there; then you release them back into society. So, what is going to happen?

“That is why we were concerned about a punishment that will correct them, that will reform them. So, if the government is going this way or if the parliament is going this way, that is why we are suggesting that while in prison, they should add more of the corrective and reformative measures,” he stated.

What CHRAJ has said:

The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice is the only government agency that has expressed concern about the anti-gay bill.

CHRAJ has described portions of the Promotion of Proper Human Rights and Family Values Bill 2021 as ‘problematic’.

CHRAJ boss Joseph Whittal, in an interview with JoyNews, picked out two main issues with the bill in its current form that raise cause for concern despite admitting that most concerns they had have been resolved in the fine-tuned bill.

The issues related to the attack of the bill on freedom of expression and the right to advocate for gays or sympathise with them, as well as the responsibilities the bill seeks to impose on specific state agencies like his.

“We have raised very pertinent concerns on the constitutionality of some of the positions and clauses of the bill.

“Some of our concerns are being addressed, but the key ones that relate to freedom of expression, the right not to sympathise with any person that professes that type of orientation and some institutions having to undertake some education on the bill when it becomes law, we think it is quite problematic,” he said.

About the passage of the anti-gay bill:

The Parliament of Ghana on Wednesday, February 28, 2024, passed the Promotion of Human Sexual Rights and Family Values Bill, widely known as the anti-LGBT+ bill.

The bill, currently awaiting presidential assent, proscribes Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) activities and criminalises their promotion, advocacy, and funding.

Persons caught in these acts will be subjected to a six-month to three-year jail term, with promoters and sponsors facing a three to five-year jail term.

The bill will now require presidential assent to come into force within seven days.

However, if President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo refuses to assent to the bill, parliament, by a two-thirds majority vote, can approve it into law.

 

 

ghanaweb.com

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