The official name for the draft legislation by Ghana’s parliament to criminalize LGBTQI+ practice and advocacy in the country is ‘The Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill 2021.’
The 36-page document is to ensure proper human sexual rights and Ghanaian family values; proscribe LGBTQ+ and related activities; proscribe propaganda of, advocacy for or promotion of LGBTTQQIAAP+ and related activities; provide for the protection of and support for children, persons who are victims or accused of LGBTTQQIAAP+ and related activities.”
It comes at a time when there is raging debate on the subject of LGBQI+ activities in the country, and the tolerance of the country’s laws to persons in the queer community.
The idea for ‘The Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill 2021’, was mooted when it became clear that the often-quoted existing laws used to argue against LGBTQI+ activities in the country including Section 104 of the Criminal Code “Unnatural Carnal Knowledge; (c) of any animal is guilty of a misdemeanour; (2) Unnatural carnal knowledge is sexual intercourse with a person in an unnatural manner or with an animal,” does not necessarily ban persons in the LGBTQI+ community from carrying out their campaign activities.
The proponents of the bill in their memorandum stated that many national leaders including President Akufo-Addo and ex-presidents such as John Agyekum Kufuor and Prof. Evans Atta-Mills have denounced LGBTQI+ activities.
“We believe the time is ripe for Parliament to actualize the intentions of the framers of our Constitution by providing a legal framework for the promotion of the values that define our nationhood,” the promoters of the bill indicate.
Below are some 10 key things the bill is proposing:
- Individuals of the same sex who engage in sexual intercourse are to be fined between 50 and 5,000 penalty units or face a jail term of between 3 years and 5 years, or both.
- Persons who use any medium or technological platform to produce, procure, market, broadcast, disseminate, publish or distribute materials with the intention of promoting LGBTQI+ activities face a jail term of between 5 and 10 years.
- All LGBTQI+ groups, associations, clubs and organizations to be disbanded. Anyone found guilty to be jailed between 6 and 10 years.
- Proscription of sex with or marriage to an animal
- Ban on same-sex marriage and marriage to someone who has undergone sex reassignment
- Anyone who funds or sponsors activities of LGBTQI+ groups or individuals to be jailed between 5 and 10 years
- LGBTQI+ persons not to be granted application to adopt or foster a child or children
- Persons of the same sex who make public show of amorous relationship to face jail term of between 6 months and a year.
- Anyone who physically or verbally assaults, abuses or harasses a person accused of being LGBTQI+ to be fined between 500 penalty units and 1,000 penalty units or to be jailed between 6 months and a year.
- Persons accused of being LGBTQI+ should be granted access to medical assistance if they make such a request during the period of their incarceration.
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LGBTQI rights in Ghana
Some persons have called for a specific law in Ghana to make homosexuality a criminal offence.
Although there are some provisions in the Criminal Code under which a homosexual can be prosecuted, especially for having intercourse with a partner, the belief is that a specific law must be enacted to declare homosexual relationships illegal.
Others have also called for a review of Ghana’s laws to be more accommodating of minority groups, as many countries are decriminalizing homosexuality.
In February 2020 for instance, the then Speaker of Ghana’s Parliament, Prof. Mike Oquaye, warned the World Bank against homosexuality conditions in development assistance to Ghana.
The current Speaker of Parliament has also spoken about his commitment towards the passage of a new law to deal with homosexuality.