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Ghana Parliament Passes Anti-LGBTQ Bill

On Wednesday, Ghana’s parliament voted to enact a controversial bill drastically restricting LGBTQ rights, which advocates decried.

The plan must still be approved by the president before it becomes law, which many feel is unlikely before the general election in December.

Activist groups have labeled the “Human Sexual Rights and Family Values” bill a setback for human rights and encouraged President Nana Akufo-Addo’s administration to oppose it.

However, the bill has widespread support in Ghana, where President Akufo-Addo has stated that gay marriage will not be permitted while he is in office.

The comprehensive legislation, often known as the anti-gay bill, was sponsored by a coalition of Christian, Muslim, and Ghanaian traditional authorities and passed unchallenged by voice vote.

Gay intercourse is already banned in the religious West African nation, but despite widespread discrimination against LGBTQ individuals, no one has ever been prosecuted under the colonial-era statute.

According to the bill’s terms, same-sex relationships might result in jail for six months to three years.

Those who advocate for LGBTQ rights may face heavier punishments, including three to five-year prison terms.

‘Absolutely wrong’

UN rights chief Volker Turk condemned the passing of the bill.

“I call for the bill not to become law,” he said. “Consensual same-sex conduct should never be criminalised.”

He warned that such measures can expose people to hate crime, and urged the government to “ensure everyone can live free from violence, stigma and discrimination, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

A human rights coalition known as the Big 18, an umbrella group of lawyers and activists in Ghana, has also criticised the bill.

“You cannot criminalise a person’s identity and that’s what the bill is doing and it’s absolutely wrong,” said Takyiwaa Manuh, a member of the coalition.

“We want to impress on the president not to assent to the bill, it totally violates the human rights of the LGBT community,” Manuh told AFP.

Opposition lawmaker Sam George, the main sponsor of the bill, called on Akufo-Addo to assent to it.

“There is nothing that deals with LGBTQ better than this bill that has been passed by parliament. We expect the president to walk his talk and be a man of his words,” George said.

Members of Ghana’s LGBTQ community are worried about the implications of the bill.

Founder and director of the organisation LGBT+ Rights Ghana Alex Donkor said “the passing of this bill will further marginalise and endanger LGBTQ individuals in Ghana.”

“It not only legalises discrimination but also fosters an environment of fear and persecution,” he said.

“With harsh penalties for both LGBTQ individuals and activists, this bill threatens the safety and well-being of an already vulnerable community.”

According to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex Association (ILGA), homosexuality is currently illegal in around 30 African countries.

Uganda, Mauritania, and some northern Nigerian states penalize same-sex relationships brutally, with those accused potentially receiving the death penalty.

South Africa is the only country on the continent that allows gay marriage, which was legalized in 2006.

According to the ILGA, gay sex is decriminalized in only a few countries: Cape Verde, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Lesotho, Mozambique, and Seychelles.

Written by PH

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