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Anti-LGBTQ+ bill: What the people of Ghana need to know

Parliament of Ghana has passed the Promotion of Human Sexual Rights and Family Values Bill, popularly known as the anti-LGBTQ bill into law.

LGBTQ rainbow flag

The bill was finally passed by lawmakers after the various consideration stages have been exhausted.

This bill stipulates that "unnatural carnal knowledge" is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years.

As Ghana grapples with discussions surrounding the proposed anti-LGBTQ+ bill, it becomes imperative for citizens to understand its implications and significance within the socio-political landscape of the country.

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The bill, officially titled the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill 2021, seeks to criminalize activities perceived as promoting or advocating for LGBTQ+ rights in Ghana.

Introduced by a group of lawmakers and supported by various religious and conservative groups, the bill reflects broader societal attitudes towards homosexuality and gender diversity in the country.

One of the central provisions of the bill is the criminalization of LGBTQ+ advocacy and support services, with penalties including fines and imprisonment for individuals and organizations found guilty of promoting LGBTQ+ rights.

Additionally, the bill aims to prohibit same-sex marriage and any form of public display of affection between individuals of the same sex.

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The proposed legislation has sparked intense debates both domestically and internationally, with critics arguing that it violates fundamental human rights, including the rights to freedom of expression, association, and non-discrimination.

In recent years, there have been instances of harassment, violence, and arbitrary arrests targeting individuals perceived to be LGBTQ+.

Human rights organizations and LGBTQ+ activists have raised concerns about the potential for increased discrimination, violence, and persecution against LGBTQ+ individuals if the bill is enacted into law.

Ghanaian society holds diverse views on issues related to sexuality and gender identity, often influenced by cultural, religious, and traditional beliefs.

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While some segments of society vehemently oppose homosexuality and advocate for stricter laws to curb what they perceive as moral decadence, others advocate for the recognition and protection of LGBTQ+ rights as a matter of human rights and social justice.

Politically, the bill has become a contentious issue, with different political parties and leaders expressing varying degrees of support or opposition.

Some politicians view the bill as a reflection of Ghanaian cultural values and a means to safeguard traditional family structures, while others argue for its rejection on the grounds of constitutional principles and respect for human rights.

Sam George, Member of Parliament for Ningo Prampram has been vocal in his support of the anti-LGBTQ+ bill in Ghana.

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He has been one of the key proponents of the "Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill" mentioned earlier.

Sam George argued that the bill is necessary to protect Ghanaian cultural values and preserve what he perceives as the traditional family structure.

The founder and director of LGBTQ+ Rights Ghana, a movement at the forefront of championing the rights and freedoms of LGBTQ+ persons in the country waded into the debate surrounding the anti-LGBTQ+ bill currently before Parliament.

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Alex Kofi Donkor said Ghana's proposed new anti-gay law has led to attacks on the country's LGBTQI community.

He stated that the past year has witnessed a continuous scapegoating of LGBTQ people, especially by politicians.

According to him, the discussions on LGBTQI often portray the community as less human or animal.

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The international community and rights activists have widely condemned the bill, which was submitted to parliament by some Members of Parliament.

Vice President of the United States of America Kamala Harris upon her visit to Ghana said the anti-LGBTQI+ bill is an affront to the minority group in the country.

Kamala Harris said it bordered on human rights.

Reacting to a question posed to her at the seat of government in Accra, she said every person has the right to live as he or she wants.

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The former French Minister of State for Europe And Foreign Affairs, Development, Francophonie and International Partnerships, Chrysoula Zacharopoulou also stated that Ghanaians need to respect the human rights of LGBTQ+ persons.

Speaking on the anti-LGBTQ+ bill currently before Parliament, Zacharopoulou said France, and the European Union promote human rights therefore the rights of LGBTQ+ persons must be promoted.

The former United States of America Ambassador to Ghana, Virginia Palmer has raised concerns over Ghana's proposed anti-LGBTQ+ bill.

She advised Ghanaian lawmakers to respect international obligations and domestic laws which centre on the need to protect the rights of all persons, irrespective of their sexual orientation.

She said "We are not commenting on the morality of this. We are just asking for people's rights to be respected so that they be left peaceful and free from harm."

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The Humanist Association in Ghana also called on Parliament to withdraw the anti-LGBTQI+ bill since it is an affront to the minority group in the country.

The Humanist Association observed that the first public hearing on the bill exposes the motion attached to it as misleading.

The Spokesperson for the group, Justice Okai Allotey, said the debate has separated the substance from the noise during the first hearing of the bill.

The Speaker of the Parliament, Alban Bagbin has said he preferred to die than to witness the legalisation of LGBTQ+ activities in Ghana.

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He vowed that the rights of homosexuals would not be legalised in his time.

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