Ghana passes anti-LGBTQ law

Ghana’s parliament has approved legislation that strengthens measures against LGBTQ individuals and those supporting non-conventional sexual or gender identities in the country. Passed on Wednesday, the new law imposes a prison term of up to five years for the active promotion, sponsorship, or support of LGBTQ+ activities. Before becoming law, the bill requires validation by the president, a step considered unlikely before the general election in December.

Critics, including activist groups and the UN rights chief Volker Türk, condemn the Human Sexual Rights and Family Values bill as a setback for human rights. President Nana Akufo-Addo’s government is urged to reject the legislation. Despite being commonly referred to as the anti-gay bill, the sweeping law enjoys broad support in Ghana, where Akufo-Addo has explicitly stated that gay marriage will not be permitted during his tenure.

Sponsored by a coalition of Christian, Muslim, and Ghanaian traditional leaders, the legislation passed through an unopposed voice vote. While discrimination against LGBTQ individuals is prevalent in Ghana, no one has been prosecuted under the colonial-era law. The bill stipulates imprisonment of six months to three years for same-sex relations, with those advocating for LGBTQ rights facing more severe penalties, including jail terms of three to five years.

The UN rights chief, Türk, criticized the passage of the bill, emphasizing that consensual same-sex conduct should not be criminalized. He warned of the potential for hate crimes and urged the government to ensure everyone can live free from violence and discrimination.

The Big 18, a human rights coalition in Ghana, has also denounced the legislation, arguing that it violates the human rights of the LGBTQ community. Opposition lawmaker Sam George, the main sponsor of the bill, called on President Akufo-Addo to assent to it, claiming it addresses LGBTQ issues effectively.

Members of Ghana’s LGBTQ community express concern about the repercussions of the bill, with fears that it will further marginalize and endanger individuals in the community. Alex Kofi Donkor, the founder of LGBT+ Rights Ghana, emphasized that the law not only legalizes discrimination but also fosters an environment of fear and persecution.

Approximately 30 African countries currently criminalize homosexuality, with some, such as Uganda, Mauritania, and certain Nigerian states, imposing harsh penalties, including the death penalty. South Africa remains the only nation on the continent that allows gay marriage, while only a handful of countries have decriminalized gay sex, according to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association (ILGA).

The passage of the Human Sexual Rights and Family Values bill in Ghana’s parliament has ignited strong reactions both domestically and internationally. The legislation, which targets LGBTQ individuals and their supporters, has been met with criticism from human rights groups, the United Nations, and activists who argue that it represents a significant setback for human rights in the country.

The bill’s provision for a prison sentence of up to five years for the promotion or support of LGBTQ+ activities has sparked concerns about the potential criminalization of an individual’s identity. Activists, including members of the Big 18 human rights coalition, emphasize that such legislation not only legalizes discrimination but also creates an environment of fear and persecution, endangering the already vulnerable LGBTQ community in Ghana.

While the bill awaits validation by the president before becoming law, its passage through parliament reflects a broader societal sentiment in Ghana. The legislation is widely supported, with President Nana Akufo-Addo publicly expressing his opposition to gay marriage. The bill’s sponsorship by a coalition of Christian, Muslim, and traditional leaders underscores the influential role of cultural and religious perspectives in shaping public opinion on LGBTQ rights.

International figures, including the UN rights chief Volker Türk, have condemned the bill, urging the Ghanaian government to reconsider and emphasizing the importance of protecting the rights of individuals regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Türk highlights the potential consequences of such legislation, including the risk of hate crimes and the violation of individuals’ fundamental rights.

The situation in Ghana adds to the broader discourse on LGBTQ rights in Africa, where many countries still criminalize same-sex relationships. While South Africa stands as an exception with legalized gay marriage, the majority of the continent maintains restrictive laws. The Ghanaian bill aligns with a trend observed in several African nations, reflecting the ongoing struggle for LGBTQ rights across the continent.

As the bill awaits presidential validation, activists and human rights advocates continue to voice their concerns, calling on the government to prioritize the protection of all citizens’ rights, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The international community closely watches Ghana’s response to this legislation, with hopes that it will foster dialogue and understanding around LGBTQ issues rather than perpetuating discrimination and marginalization.

Latest articles

US: 40% of people exposed to unhealthy levels of air pollution

According to a recent report by the American Lung Association, nearly 40% of people in the US are exposed to unhealthy levels of air...

Profits dip, Tesla comes up with new models

Tesla's profits have significantly declined this year, prompting the company to accelerate the release of new models and cut thousands of jobs in an...

Greece: Athens covered with orange Sahara dust haze

An intense orange haze has enveloped Athens, creating a surreal landscape as vast clouds of Sahara Desert dust have drifted over the city. This...

Argentina: People protest against cuts to public universities

Tens of thousands of demonstrators filled the streets of Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, on Tuesday, to protest and for voicing their opposition...

Related articles