A research fellow at the University of Johannesburg (UJ), Dr. Edwin Coleman, says the argument that homosexuality is alien to African culture and values is factually incorrect.
According to him, academic texts, including anthropological studies into the precolonial era, have shown that although not legalised same sex relationships was tolerated in the African society.
Speaking on The Law on JoyNews, Dr Coleman explained that the texts showed that in some contexts it was for the purposes of war, farming, expression of the diverse nature of “Africanness” and humanity.
“We cannot restrict fundamental rights when what we are basing our restriction on is academically unsound and factually inaccurate…because historical facts allude to the fact that the African traditional society, promoted social inclusivity and that included same sex relationship.”
“In the context of Ghanaian law there is evidence that it did not explicitly promote same sex relationships, but what the Ghanaian customary law did not do is to ascribe a punishment in the form of criminality to it,” the researcher said.
Mr. Coleman told host, Joseph Ackah-Blay that the banning of unnatural carnal knowledge associated with LGBTQ+ practice and highlighting it in the constitution was only introduced during the colonial era.
“Let’s do some logical reasoning, why are you banning something if that thing did not exist? This is what I don’t get in this entire narrative, that it is alien to our values,” he added.
His comment comes after a private members bill aimed at fighting LGBTQ+ in the country was unveiled.
The Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill 2021 will see culprits face a jail term of up to ten years depending on the crime, if passed in its current state.
Individuals of the same sex who engage 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 encompasses 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.”
The bill, according to Ningo Prampram MP, Samuel George, criminalises not just the activity but the promotion, advocacy and funding of the act.
Speaking at the Parliamentary Christian Fellowship meeting in June, Sam George said “we have established clearly that homosexuality is not a human rights, it is a lifestyle choice. So, we respect the human rights of practitioners of homosexuality to get a free and fair trial, however, their sexual orientation and choices cannot be deemed to be a human right and this is contained within the 1992 Constitution.”
However, Mr Coleman believes that the Ghanaian cultural values does not seek to promote hate unlike the bill.
According to him, all arguments raised to support the bill are not steeped in science and thus provide a weak base to stifle the basic human rights of a group of people.
The Researcher explained that “the state can intervene in fundamental human rights. No doubt about it.
“But my case is if we want to restrict human rights, if we want to restrict individual rights, we need to ensure that we have a justification that is properly grounded in science. I don’t see anything like that in this case, I don’t see anything like that in this one.”
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