The United Nations Human Rights council has criticized Ghana’s attempt to introduce tougher laws against LGBTQ+ persons and their activities in the country.
Ghana’s lawmakers have laid in parliament a new draft bill titled “The Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill 2021″.
It is being sponsored by some individual lawmakers who are anti-LGBTQ+ activists.
According to details of the bill, anyone of the same sex that engages in sexual intercourse are “liable on summary conviction to a fine of not less than seven hundred and fifty penalty units and not more than five thousand penalty units, or to a term of imprisonment of not less than three years and not more than five years or both.”
This punishment also covers any person who “holds out as a lesbian, a gay, a transgender, a transsexual, a queer, a pansexual, an ally, a non-binary or any other sexual or gender identity that is contrary to the binary categories of male and female.”
Punishing promoters of LGBTQ+ activities
The bill also seeks to punish those it deems promoters and allies of the LGBT+ community with a jail term.
There is also punishment for persons who engage in activities that “promotes, supports sympathy for or a change of public opinion towards an act prohibited under the Bill.”
Such offenders are liable on summary conviction to a term of imprisonment of not less than five years or not more than ten years.
A panel of UN experts said in a statement that “Passing this law in its current or even partial form would violate a significant number of human rights, including the absolute prohibition of torture.”
They also indicated that the new bill “will not only criminalize LGBTI (I for intersex) people but also all those who support or show sympathy for human rights.”
Various human rights activists have already expressed their displeasure at this attempt by Ghana’s lawmakers to pass the law.
Bill enjoys support of Ghanaians
The bill seems to have strong support among Ghanaians.
Nana Yaa Agyepong, a member of Silent Majority Ghana, a transnational queer feminist group told DW “This is something that we cannot have because we have Ghanaians that deserve to live safely and at peace at home and not forced into exile.”
She is also worried that the bill “squashes conversations and dissents around the bill so people would not be able to do public education or media appearances or even on social media.”
But one of the eight members of parliament who proposed the bill, Sam George, told DW that “We are just bringing our laws up to speed to ensure that so long as our national position has not changed and still homosexuality is an illegality, let’s make the laws reflective of that.”
“Our constitution says rights can be curtailed so long as they pose existential threat to the public safety, public health and public moral,” he said adding that “This act of homosexuality poses a public health challenge and a public moral challenge.”
Ghana’s current criminal code only outlaws what it describes as “unnatural” carnal knowledge. The law is however silent on explicitly mentioning LGBT people and those who promote their activities.
If the bill is eventually passed into law only Ghana’s President Akufo-Addo, who has vowed not to legalize same-sex marriages will have the final say either to sign it or veto it.