The lead proponent of the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill 2021, Sam Nartey George today, November 29, revealed that the Bill does not criminalise people who identify as intersex.
Intersexuality or intersex is a general term used for a variety of situations in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that does not fit the usual boxes of female or male.
Speaking at the second public hearing organised by the Parliamentary Committee tasked to probe the Anti-LGBT Bill and memoranda submitted in support and against the Bill, he explained that Section 6 of the Bill which deals with the particular acts and identities to be criminalised do not in any way include intersex people.
He said, “The Honourable Member makes a specific claim that we’re criminalising intersex, Mr Chairman, that again is false, is unfortunate and I’d want to use this opportunity to educate the Honourable Member that our Bill does not criminalise intersex.”
His comments were in reaction to a remark by MP for Ablekuma West, Ursula Owusu Ekuful who expressed concern at the supposed criminalisation of intersex people, and others with biological anomalies.
However, a closer look at the Bill exposes a contradiction between Sam George’s assertion and the letter of the Bill.
For instance, Section 6 (ix) of the Bill, states that “a person commits an offence if the person holds out as any other sexual or gender identity that is contrary to the binary categories of male and female.”
Intersex people fall out of the binary categories of male and female, as stated above.
Planned Parenthood explains that there are many different ways someone can be intersex.
Some intersex people have genitals or internal sex organs that fall outside the male/female categories — such as a person with both ovarian and testicular tissues.
Other intersex people have combinations of chromosomes that are different than XY (usually associated with male) and XX (usually associated with female), like XXY.
And some people are born with external genitals that fall into the typical male/female categories, but their internal organs or hormones don’t.
Clearly from the above explanation, intersex people per their biological makeup automatically commit an offence for not being able to fit into the binary as stated in section 6(ix). In other words, they commit an offence for being born intersex.
Even though the Bill in Section 6 (c), (f) (ii), and (g) (ii), exempt intersex people who ‘agree’ to undergo sexual reassignment to correct their ‘abnormality’, what then happens to those that embrace their intersex nature?
The logical inference is that any intersex person who decides not to undergo ‘corrective’ surgery to change or affirm their sex automatically forms part of the criminalized sexual identities.
This suggests that Sam George’s assertion is inherently false and does not paint a full picture of the content of the proposed Bill.
Being intersex is a naturally occurring variation in humans, and it isn’t a medical problem – therefore, medical interventions (like surgeries or hormone therapy) on children usually aren’t medically necessary, this is according to Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana.
Should the Bill be passed in its current form, there will be more pressure on parents who have intersex children to have them undergo ‘corrective’ surgeries and therapies.
According to Human Rights Watch, going ahead with these ‘corrective’ surgeries and therapies on children “can inflict irreversible physical and psychological harm on them starting in infancy, harms that can last throughout their lives.”
“The results are often catastrophic, the supposed benefits are largely unproven, and there are generally no urgent health considerations at stake,” they added.
Section 6(2) states that “a person who commits an offence under paragraph (a), (b), (c), (d), (e), (f), or (g) of subsection (1) commits a second-degree felony and is 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.”
Thus should the Bill be passed, we not only put an unknown number of children (supposedly being protected by the Bill) into danger, we also threaten the freedoms and liberties of intersex adults who have embraced their sexual realities by imposing brutal sanctions on them.
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