A bill that will criminalise the activities of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI), as well as individuals and organisations that advocate or promote the activity in the country, has been laid in Parliament.
Known as the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill, 2021, it was read for the first time and the Second Deputy Speaker, Mr Andrew Asiamah Amoako, referred it to the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for consideration and report.
The 36-page Private Member’s Bill is to provide for proper human sexual rights and Ghanaian family values, proscribe LGBTQ+ and related activities, propaganda of, advocacy for or promotion of LGBTTQQIAAP+ and related activities.
It will prohibit a person from providing or participating in any form of surgical services to enable gender reassignment or create a sexual category other than the category of a person assigned at birth, except where the surgical procedure is to correct a biological anomaly, including intersex.
Those who contravene or undermine this provision are liable, on summary conviction, to a term of imprisonment of not less than three years and not more than five years or both.
Moreover, the bill prescribes the promotion and advocacy activities directed at children. Thus, any person who uses the media and other electronic channels to produce, procure, market, broadcast, publish or distribute material or information directly or indirectly directed at a child with intent to evoke the interest of children in activity could face a jail term of not less than six years and not more than 10 years.
Besides, it seeks to provide an accused person access to medical help or treatment and prohibits extra-judicial or inhumane treatment of persons accused of offenses under the bill.
The bill was initiated by eight Members of Parliament (MPs), seven of whom are from the National Democratic Congress (NDC), with one being a New Patriotic Party (NPP) legislator.
The NDC MPs are those for Ningo-Prampram, Mr Samuel Nartey George; Kpando, Mrs Dela Adjoa Sowah; Ho West, Mr Emmanuel Bedzrah; Tamale North, Mr Alhassan Sayibu Suhuyini; Krachi West, Mrs Helen Adjoa Ntoso; La Dadekotopon, Mrs Rita Naa Odoley Sowah, and South Dayi, Mr Rockson-Nelson Dafeamekpor, while the NPP MP is for Assin South, Rev. John Ntim Fordjour.
They said it was their ardent belief that the passage of the bill to deal with LGBTTQQIAAP+ was apt, considering the 2017 report of the Science Research Council, communicated at the 4th National HIV and AIDS Research Conference in Accra, which showed that about 18.1 per cent of people living with AIDS were gay.
On the issue of advocacy and other promotional activities, they said there was currently no legislation that specifically criminalised advocacy for, funding, promotion or encouragement of LGBTTQQIAAP+ activities, except the inchoate provisions in Act 29, namely, preparation for committing certain criminal offences, abetment of a criminal offence and conspiracy.
“This gap in the law creates opportunities for advocates of LGBTTQQIAAP+ activities to sponsor and promote the proliferation of those sexual activities. The effect of these sponsorships and promotions is that young persons are lured to assimilate the otherwise unacceptable forms of sexual expressions.
“Credible reports from the Coalition for Proper Human Sexual Rights and Family Values indicate instances when young persons are promised travel opportunities, allowances and other gifts to cause them to engage in or advocate LGBTTQQIAAP+.
“In some instances, young persons, mostly students in colleges, are awarded the commission for luring other young persons to join LGBTTQQIAAP+ groups,” they stated.
A memorandum accompanying the bill showed that it contained 25 clauses that would be subjected to amendment during consideration by the committee to which it was referred.
Clause 1 of the bill, among others, prohibits a person from holding him or herself out as a lesbian, a gay, a bisexual, a transgender, a transsexual, a queer, an ally, a pansexual or a person of any other socio-cultural notion of sex or sexual relationship that is contrary to the socio-cultural notions of male and female or the relationship between male and female, as well as a person who may be questioning that person’s sexuality, among others.
Clause 4 prohibits a person from engaging in acts that undermine the proper human sexual rights and Ghanaian family values provided for in the bill. In particular, persons must refrain from instigating, commanding, counselling, procuring, soliciting or purposely aiding, facilitating, encouraging or promoting, whether by a personal act or otherwise, either directly or indirectly, any activity that undermines the proper human sexual rights and Ghanaian family values stipulated in the bill.
“A person who undermines these proper human sexual rights and Ghanaian family values commits an offence and is liable, on summary conviction, to a fine of not more than 2,000 penalty units or a term of imprisonment of not less than two months and not more than four months,” the memorandum said.
Clauses 6 to 11 deal with LGBTTQQIAAP+ and related activities. Under Clause 6, a person commits an offence if he or she engages in sexual intercourse between or among persons of the same sex or between a man and an animal, a woman and an animal, among others.