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Ghana Passes the Stringent Anti-LGBTQ Law

Ghana Passes the Stringent Anti-LGBTQ Law

Ghana Passes the Stringent Anti-LGBTQ Law

Ghana’s parliament passed an anti-LGBTQ law on Wednesday 28th Feb 2024. If the law is signed into law, it could be the most stringent anti-LGBTQ law that goes against the rights of lesbian, gay, and other non-conventional gender identities in West Africa.

What Ghana’s Anti-LGBTQ Law Says

Ghana, like many African countries, is reluctant to embrace the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. Currently, gay sex is punishable in Ghana by up to three years in prison. The new bill was introduced in parliament three years ago and proposes a five-year prison sentence for the wilful promotion, sponsorship, or support of LGBTQ+ activities. This makes it the stickiest anti-LGBTQ law in Africa and many parts of the world.

Angel Maxine (She, her, hers), Ghana’s first musician to come out as an LGBTQ and community activist told Reuters that they are heartbroken and devastated about that developing story.

The bill which has the backing of the Christian, Muslim, and Ghanaian traditional leaders has left many wondering how a country with a good history of respecting human rights could come up with such a law.

The bill will later be presented to Ghana’s president Nana Akufo-Addo for consideration. Once presented, he will only have seven days to assent or refuse to assent.

When asked about the bill in the past, the president didn’t comment. All eyes are on him now as the bill has been voted by parliament.

Activists Claim that the Bill Violates Fundamental Human Rights

The passing of the anti-LGBTQ bill by the Ghanaian parliament is a win for the sponsors of the bill. They argue that the law will help protect children and their culture.

On the other hand, LGBTQ advocates and human rights activists say that the bill infringes on the rights to dignity, freedom of speech and association, and rights to equality and non-discrimination. 

Winnie Byanyima, an executive director of the United Nations Aids agency (UNAIDS) says the bill will have far-reaching effects on everyone if it becomes law. They argue that the punitive laws on the bill will create a barrier to ending fighting HIV/Aids.

They add that the punitive bill will create bad blood between transgender individuals and cisgender which could create room for violence among Ghanaian citizens.

Freedom of speech and association is a fundamental right that should not be taken away from a person or community based on their gender orientation. If the bill becomes law, it could limit the access to essential health services to Ghanaian citizens and significantly impact the country’s development processes.

Lawyers Too Don’t Support the Bill

Lawyers and activists also say the bill criminalizes a person’s identity and denies them their fundamental rights. They urge the president not to sign the bill.

There are many things that the president will put into consideration before signing the bill. For example, the president must look at the financial impact the bill has on the Ghanaian economy. If the best analysis isn’t done, the bill could place a huge burden on the judiciary, the police, and other financial aspects.

In 2021, the United Nations warned that the proposed law would create a foundation for state-sponsored discrimination and violence against the LGBTQ+ community in Ghana. This, however, has no space in the modern world where the world has many other battles to fight to ensure dignity and a better life for all people.

Uganda’s President Signed Repressive Anti-ALGBTQ Law Last Year

Even as we wait for a reaction from the Ghanaian president, it is important to remember that Uganda President Yoweri Museveni signed one of the repressive anti-LGBT law last year.

Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2023 criminalizes same-sex conduct, with the death penalty among the potential punishment for those convicted.

Human rights activists say the bill violates fundamental human rights under the country’s constitution and goes against the commitments of the Ugandan government as a signatory to numerous international human rights agreements.

Before the signing of this act into law, Uganda’s penal code already punished same-sex conduct. The new law added new crimes such as the “promotion of homosexuality” and introduced the death penalty for what it calls “aggravated homosexuality.”. The prison for same-sex attempted conduct has been increased to 10 years.

The Signing of the Anti-LGBTQ Law in Ghana Could Lead to Violence and Discrimination Against LGBTQ Individuals

The LGBTQ community usually faces violence and discrimination in Ghana and other parts of the world. Although Ghana is historically seen as a country that respects human rights, signing the anti-LGBTQ law could make cases of discrimination and violence more prevalent.

Uganda, for example, has experienced more arrests, police abuse, reduced access to health services, landlord evictions, and loss of employment based on an individual’s perceived sexual orientation.

If the Ghanaian president signs this bill into law, members of the LGBTQ community and their supporters could become easy targets for arbitrary arrests, discrimination and violence.

We hope that the president will be guided by fundamental human rights, including rights of expression, association, and equality for all when considering the law.

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