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LGBTG+ bill: All you need to know about Ghana's controversial bill

Ghana does not have specific legislation that protects the rights of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ+) individuals. Same-sex sexual activity is criminalized in Ghana under Section 104(1)(b) of the Criminal Offences Act of 1960.

LGBTQ rainbow flag

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

Ghanaian society tends to be conservative, and there is widespread social stigma and discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals.

Advocacy for LGBTQ+ rights has faced opposition from various religious, cultural, and political groups.

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

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In early 2021, there was news about the proposed "Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill" in Ghana.

This bill, often referred to as the "LGBTQ+ bill," seeks to further criminalize LGBTQ+ rights and activism.

It aims to outlaw the advocacy and support for LGBTQ+ rights, criminalize same-sex marriage, and impose penalties on LGBTQ+ individuals and their allies.

However, the bill was still in the proposal stage, and it's important to note that legislation can change over time.

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It's worth mentioning that public opinion on LGBTQ+ rights is diverse, with different segments of Ghanaian society holding varied perspectives.

While there is opposition to LGBTQ+ rights, there are also individuals and organizations working to promote equality, inclusivity, and human rights for LGBTQ+ individuals in Ghana.

Many religious organisations and like-minded institutions and individuals have expressed their full support for the bill to be passed into law while some civil society organisations (CSOs) and other campaigners had opposed it with the explanation that it would infringe on the human rights of LGBTQ+ people in the country, and subject them to persecution and violence.

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 has 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 has 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 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 his country France, and the European Union promote human rights therefore the rights of LGBTQ+ persons must be promoted.

The 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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"I think it is a political hot potato and I think in some ways it is being used as a political hot potato and what I am saying is that I hope that Ghana's citizens, Ghana's parliamentarians, Ghana's leaders will respect Ghana's Constitution and its international obligations to which it is a signatory," she said on Joy News.

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.

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

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

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