The anti-gay bill presented to Ghana’s parliament could propose up to 10 years in prison for LGBTQ + people, as well as groups and individuals who defend their rights, express sympathy or offer social or medical support, in one of the more draconian and radical forms. proposed anti-gay laws around the world.
Support for intersex people would also be criminalized and the government could order intersex people to undergo “gender realignment” surgery, according to the bill.
A leaked copy of Ghana’s Promotion of Adequate Human Sexual Rights and Family Values Bill, widely distributed online and confirmed as authentic by diplomats with access to the bill, has sparked outrage and growing fear among activists in Ghana. human rights.
The bill would be the first important step in criminalizing sexual minorities and their supporters since independence from colonial rule.
The prospect of tough new laws has been hailed by numerous parliamentarians and supported by figures in the government of President Nana Akufo-Addo.
A wave of repression against LGBTQ + people has followed in the West African country since January this year. In February, a community space offering support to sexual minorities was forced to close amid a backlash from politicians, civil and religious groups and the media, and also led to an increase in arrests and abuses against people perceived as gay or queer.
On Friday, Sam Nartey George, a MP who described gay rights as a “perversion” and led a group of lawmakers who drafted the bill, dismissed the bill’s online condemnation as “misinformed.”
“Homosexuality is not a human right. It’s a sexual preference, ”he said in a post on Twitter. “We will pass this bill.”
Foreign diplomats said they have expressed significant concern about the bill to the Ghanaian government. Ghanaian officials have privately sought to allay fears that the bill will pass.
Parliament has yet to appoint a committee to review the bill and the bill is likely to be subject to several amendments before it is passed.
Nana Ama Agyemang Asante, a journalist and activist in Accra, said she was “stunned by the content, the crudeness of the language and the cruelty behind the intent” of the bill. “I’ve spent all my time as a journalist defending gay rights, so I can’t believe we’ve reached this point where they want to criminalize everything and everyone, including the existence of allies, intersex and asexual people.”
Among other aspects of the bill that have led to condemnation, groups or individuals found to be financing groups considered LGBTQ + rights defenders or offering support could be prosecuted. Marriage would be clearly defined in Ghanaian law as a marriage between a man and a woman.
Media companies, online platforms, and accounts that post information that could be seen as encouraging children to explore any gender or sex outside of the binary categories of male and female could face 10 years in prison.
Since January, public life groups, from politicians to journalists, civil and religious leaders, have led a fierce condemnation of LGBTQ + rights and support networks in Ghana.
The Ghanaian government promised new laws to ban pro-gay advocacy, amid hysteria over the boldest efforts to establish support for sexual minorities. A group of eight lawmakers presented the bill to parliament on June 29.
“Unnatural carnal knowledge”, often interpreted as non-heterosexual sex, is illegal in Ghana. Prosecutions are rare, yet many gay and queer people have reported being abused by citizens and law enforcement agencies.
Amid growing clamor for cracking down on those perceived as advocates of LGBTQ + rights, 21 people were arrested in the city of Ho in March, at a training event for paralegals and other professionals working in support of vulnerable groups. They were released on bail last month, yet many of the defendants live in safe houses for fear of safety, and some of them have been disowned by their families and lost their jobs.