Ghana’s parliament approves anti-LGBTQ bill.

A combination of religious and traditional leaders supported the measure, which was approved by majority parliamentarians and passed in parliament on Wednesday.
The measure would penalise anyone who engage in LGBTQ sexual behaviours, as well as those who advocate for the rights of gay, lesbian, or other non-traditional sexual or gender identities, with prison time.

The plan, one of the worst of its type in Africa, still has to be approved by the president before it becomes law, which many say is unlikely before a general election in December.

Parliamentarians and members of the public listen as Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo delivers his annual state of the nation address to the parliament in Accra, Ghana

Activist organisations have labelled the “Human Sexual Rights and Family Values” law a setback for human rights and encouraged President Nana Akufo-Addo’s administration to oppose it.

However, the legislation is highly supported in Ghana, where Akufo-Addo has stated that homosexual marriage would never be permitted while he is in office.

Commonly referred to as the anti-gay law, it was sponsored by a combination of Christian, Muslim, and Ghanaian traditional leaders and had strong support from members of Parliament.

Gay intercourse is already banned in the devout West African nation, but despite widespread prejudice against LGBTQ individuals, no one has ever been punished under the colonial-era statute.

Under the bill’s terms, persons who engage in LGBTQ sexual practices might face jail for six months to three years.

The measure also stipulates a three to five-year jail penalty for “wilful promotion, sponsorship, or support of LGBTQ+ activities”.

The measure has been denounced by Ghana’s human rights coalition, the Big 18, which is made up of lawyers and campaigners.

“You cannot criminalise a person’s identity and that’s what the bill is doing and it’s absolutely wrong,” said Takyiwaa Manuh, a member of the coalition.

“We want to impress on the president not to assent to the bill, it totally violates the human rights of the LGBT community,” Manuh told the AFP news agency.

Opposition lawmaker Sam George, the main sponsor of the bill, called on Akufo-Addo to assent to it.

“There is nothing that deals with LGBTQ better than this bill that has been passed by parliament. We expect the president to walk his talk and be a man of his words,” George said.

Members of Ghana’s LGBTQ community are worried about the implications of the bill.

Founder and director of the organisation LGBT+ Rights Ghana Alex Donkor said, “The passing of this bill will further marginalise and endanger LGBTQ individuals in Ghana.”

“It not only legalises discrimination but also fosters an environment of fear and persecution,” he said.

“With harsh penalties for both LGBTQ individuals and activists, this bill threatens the safety and wellbeing of an already vulnerable community.”

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