The simmering sentiments about LGBTQ+ activities in Ghana have crept back into the public discourse in light of some extreme sanctions which have come to the fore.
This time, it has to do with some strong reservations which have greeted a 36-page bill yet to be sent to Parliament for consideration in order to criminalise the act.
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."
Anti-LGBT+ legislators had earlier hinted at ongoing deliberations on a document to render the group’s promotion and advocacy illegal.
Ningo - Prampram legislator Sam George and 7 other members of parliament including the NPP's John Ntim Fordjour drafted the bill which they are seeking to introduce in the house as a private member's bill for the necessary approval.
On 29th June 2021, they symbolically submitted a copy of the draft bill to the speaker Alban Bagbin for his review at a meeting of the Parliamentary Christian Fellowship.
The Speaker is expected to create a window on the floor of the House to allow the MPs to formally move their private member's bill soon.
But portions of the draft which hit the internet on Thursday has reignited a conversation about its nature and scope with many impugning potentially far-reaching human rights violations including that of allies.
It proposed that “a person who, by use of media, technological platform, technological account or any other means, produces, procures, markets, broadcasts, disseminates, publishes or distributes a material for purposes of promoting an activity prohibited under the Bill, or a person uses an electronic device, the Internet service, a film, or any other device capable of electronic storage or transmission to produce, procure, market, broadcast, disseminate, publishes or distribute a material for purposes of promoting an activity prohibited under the Bill commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a term of imprisonment of not less than five years and not more than ten years.”
The draft also suggests that persons who engage in activities that “promotes, supports sympathy for or a change of public opinion towards an act prohibited under the Bill” are liable on summary conviction to a term of imprisonment of not less than five years or not more than ten years.
The Bill is also proposing the disbandment of all LGBTQ+ groups, societies, associations, clubs, and organizations.
All groups in existence before the Bill came into existence and are intended to promote such activities are to be disbanded.
Persons who contravene this provision could face up to not less than six years or not more than ten years imprisonment.
But some 51,000 tweets generated since the issue went public, have relayed some thoughts on the matter.
Some social media users say the seeming antagonism against pro-LGBT activism, as indicated in the draft is unwarranted.
While some users support the development, many others also claim the vagueness and broad scope of infringement range per the bill gives wiggle room for its abuse.
Welcome to Ghana where you will get 5 to 10 years in prison because you don't hate members of the LGBTQ community and believe they are humans who deserve rights like any other human.— Sab Al Ghul (@NegusSabali) July 22, 2021
This is where you gauge the level of inhumanity, and oppression these guys stand for. Because whoever you are, even if you are anti LGBTQ, how does disallowing any avenue to debate this really speak to democracy. Seriously think about it https://t.co/lCYQy0q1EN— Fe(e)ls (@hobidyhobs) July 22, 2021
LGBTQ shouldn’t be on the table for discussion. Ghana is against it, our culture, society, religion even tribe or ethnicity is not in support of this. I don’t think there is even one ethnic group in GH that even considers this LGBT crap. It’s not supposed to even be on agenda....— Kweku Wusu (@IzzySkinpain) July 22, 2021
Promotion of proper human sexual rights and Ghanaian family values bill but no adultery in sight😂😂😂— Nahaja✨ (@nahaja_) July 22, 2021
Seeing Ghana's very quick descent towards legislating bigotry is daunting, to say the least, cos not so long ago there was public discourse on LGBTQ+ rights and it being a "non issue" came up alot. 😬— parachichi (@colourmequeerke) July 22, 2021
Fact is, we're all biological anomalies. The very nature of biology is anomalous. There exists no two identical samples because even clones adapt to different external pressures and thus become not the same. Difference and change are fundamental to biology and therefore to us all https://t.co/HT5DIcuEAM— Ariel🌺 • 🤖 (@Sai_Pher) July 22, 2021
Pro-LGBTQ+ groups have also expressed their displeasure about the bill.
Seen the Private Members Bill?— LGBT+ Rights Ghana (@LGBTRightsGhana) July 22, 2021
Horrible by all standards.
36 pages of backward, regressive, sheer wickedness and bloody suckers!
Ghana, welcome to dark ages.
The Ghana LGBTQ+ Bill is a plain violation and encroachment on Rights and Freedom— Svfe Sex Space🌈 (@sexsafespace) July 22, 2021
However, Member of Parliament, Sam George is confident that "Nothing would stand in our way to get this Bill passed by the House."
I have seen the attacks from a few goons aligned to a political inclination based on my leadership on the PMB against LGBTQI+ in Ghana. Bow your heads in shame. Nothing would stand in our way to get this Bill passed by the House. Take your perversion and let me speak my truth! 🦁— Sam 'Dzata' George (@samgeorgegh) July 22, 2021
The Speaker of Parliament has also assured that the new law will be passed by the end of 2021.
For now, it is unclear when the bill will be laid before Parliament for the legislative process to begin.
The other members of parliament that joined in presenting the bill to the Speaker in June include, Kpando MP Della Adjoa Sowah, Ho West MP Emmanuel Bedzrah, John Ntim Fordjour (MP, Assin South), South Dayi MP Rockson Nelson Dafeamekpor, MP for Tamale North Alhassan Sayibu Suhuyini, MP for Krachi West Helen Adjoa Ntoso and Rita Naa Odoley Sowah, MP for La Dadekotopon).
Below are more comments via Twitter:
You no fit get lawyer make he defend you if them arrest you sef because he try defend you noorr them arrest am as ally. These niggas are intelligent.— randolph. (@Koffy_9) July 22, 2021
The moral fabric never dey include corruption https://t.co/40Lt7PzZLn— Gambit ♠️🐻 (@SmylyThe3rd) July 22, 2021
This anti-lgbt bill is so absurd. It contravenes basic human rights in so many ways and gives the state unbridled power to control the private lives of citizens. Forcing intersex people to undergo surgery? Even the language they used is so dehumanizing.— tired of homophobia in GH 🇬🇭💔 (@JustDerby) July 22, 2021
That anti-LGBT bill in ghana is sickening. That bill should not be allowed to be passed in 2021 or ever.— phiphi (@the_phidelia) July 22, 2021
So people who run NGOs that provide counseling about sex or HIV services or anything of the sort can be arrested for "advocacy" because they provide services for queer ppl 🙃— Nsafoa's Lost Key 🏳️🌈 (@YaaAsantewaaBa) July 22, 2021
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