The former Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Mr Emile Short, has said President Nana Akufo-Addo’s comments on homosexuality during an interview with Al Jazeera are not different from former President John Mahama’s.
President Nana Akufo-Addo has told Aljazeera that legalisation of homosexuality is bound to happen in Ghana if public opinion for its legalisation grows stronger.
“I don’t believe that in Ghana, so far, a sufficiently strong coalition has emerged which is having that impact on public opinion that will say: ‘Change it [the law], let’s then have a new paradigm in Ghana."
“I think it is something that is bound to happen like elsewhere in the world, they are activities of individuals of groups”, he said.
When asked: “What’s going to provoke it, what’s going to make it happen?” Akufo-Addo said: “Oh, like elsewhere in the world, the activities of individuals [and] groups”.
The president, however, pointed out that: “At the moment, I don’t feel and I don’t see that in Ghana, there is that strong current of opinion that will say: ‘This is something that we need even deal with’. It’s not, so far, a matter which is on the agenda.”
Former presidents, John Mills and John Mahama were confronted with similar issues on homosexuality while they were in power.
Prof Mills at the time indicated: “I, as president, will never initiate or support any attempt to legalise homosexuality in Ghana,” after UK Prime Minister David Cameron said in 2011 that aid would be cut to countries that do not respect gay rights.
Mahama also told the Scottish Parliament during a visit while in office that: “My country is a secular one made up of Christians, Muslims and traditional believers. None of these sects accept gayism and lesbianism. As a leader once the people I rule abhor these things, I cannot accept these cultures on the grounds of human rights. Despite our challenges, our nation stands paramount against any other foreign aim," adding that: “Most Africans frown at the thought of legalizing homosexuality as it defies every aspect of their socio-cultural and religious principles."
However, Nana Akufo-Addo’s comments have not gone down well with many Ghanaians, who feel that his comments suggest an endorsement of homosexuality.
For others, the president should have been emphatic as Mahama was on the matter.
But Mr Short believes that “What the President [Mr Mahama] said is not very much different from what President Akufo-Addo said; namely that Ghanaians as a people generally we frown upon such behaviour.”
“I think it is important to draw a distinction between the behaviour and the person involved in that behaviour. So the law criminalises unnatural carnal knowledge which some have interpreted to mean sexual relationship with homosexuals. The law does not criminalise the mere person being a homosexual if you don’t have any evidence that he has engaged in unnatural carnal knowledge and our law also does not permit same-sex marriage. So there are different dimensions or levels to the problem. And then when people talk about human rights, what rights are they referring to; is it the right to life, is it the right to social and educational services? I think any meaningful discussion should discuss these individual rights separately so that there is a meaningful discussion and people are educated as to what the law really prescribes,” he told Accra-based Class FM.