A research fellow at the University of Johannesburg says Speaker of Parliament, A.S.K Bagbin cannot be faulted for encouraging the passing of the anti-LGBTQ bill due to his prejudice against same-sex relationships.
Speaking on JoyNews’ The Law on Sunday, Dr Edwin Coleman, indicated that persons who can be blamed for attempting to pass the said bill that infringes on free speech, are those who are considered academics.
He was making reference to a University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA) Law Lecturer, Justice Abdulai who on the show, described the bill as beautiful as well as emphasizing that the practice of homosexuality and the tolerance of other genders aside from male and female should be wholeheartedly rejected.
“I will not fault the Speaker of Parliament because the Speaker of Parliament is not an academic. The people I can fault are the academics who are telling me that compel speech is beautiful under Ghanaian law. Those are the people I have issues with. The Speaker of Parliament is not an academic.
“He has shown his prejudices. I don’t have any problem with that. That is the beauty of our democracy but we cannot go and sit and make a one-sided law to say that because some people have said we should pass a law,” Mr Coleman told host, Joseph Ackah-Blay.
This follows comments made by Speaker Alban Bagbin that Parliament will at the earliest possible time pass the anti-LGBTQ bill drafted by some eight legislators.
The Speaker further cautioned persons threatening the lives of the Members of Parliament sponsoring the bill to desist from such acts, adding that no individual can dictate how to run the country, to lawmakers .
These statements by the Speaker, Mr Coleman said, reveal that “the bill is very misconceived.”
Mr Coleman also described the 36-page bill seeking to criminalize the involvement, promotion, propagation, advocacy, support or funding for LGBTQI+ related activities, as ridiculous.
He defended his assertion, stating that the bill, in its present state, dictates to Ghanaians, what exactly they can or cannot say on the matter of LGBT and anything short of that is a criminal offence.
“This is the most ridiculous law I have ever seen. To say you are compelling me as to what I can say and anything that I will say that is contrary to what you are saying I can say, is a criminal offence.
“English criminal law doesn’t allow that. That is contrary to the foundation of our very legal system,” he explained.
Speaking extensively on the issue, he noted that the bill seeking to limit fundamental human rights is not justified in law and is not logically coherent and empirically sound.
“If you look at the bill and the memorandum as well, there are so many aspects of it, I believe are filled with conjecture, it’s not properly grounded in legal reasoning, it is not supported by facts and statistics.
“When you go back to pre-colonial times, there are academic and anthropological studies, they went deep into assess sexuality and same-sex relations. There is this academic text that I found, that there were instances where under African custom, same-sex relationships, even though not legalized for want of better word, was tolerated and some reasons being in the context of purposes of war and expression of the diverse nature of our ‘Africaness’.
“So if you tell me, the justification upon which you want to rely this case is cultural values, there shouldn’t be any form of ambiguity whatsoever,” he stated.
According to the 36-page bill, 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 initiative, the bill states is to do away with the threats of LGBT related activities on the “concept of family and the associated value systems that are central to the social structure of all ethnic groups in Ghana.”
The eight legislators spearheading the fight against same-sex relationships in the country through this bill are; MP for Ningo-Prampram, Sam George, Ho West MP, Emmanuel Bedzrah, MP for Kpando, Della Adjoa Sowah, and John Ntim Fordjour, the MP for Assin South.
The rest are MP for Tamale North, Alhassan Sayibu Suhuyini, La Dadekotopon MP, Rita Naa Odoley Sowah, the MP for Krachi West, Helen Adjoa Ntoso, and Rockson-Nelson Dafeamekpor, the MP for South Dayi.
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