Professor Audrey Gadzekpo, a former Dean of the School of Information and Communication Studies at the University of Ghana, has described Ghana’s anti-gay bill as retrogressive and undemocratic.
Speaking with Nana Yaa Mensah on the Asaase Breakfast Show on Wednesday (6 October), Prof Gadzekpo said “…We are pointing out that the bill is egregious because it really violates the rights of law-abiding citizens who just happen to self-identify differently from the majority.
“And you know something, that is what democracy is about; that is why those human right provisions have been enshrined in our constitution…because the framers of the constitution know that in a lot of society, the minority (vulnerable) always have their rights infringed.“
Prof Gadzekpo argues that passing the bill in its current state will defeat the country’s quest to champion democracy and the right of its citizen.
“So, if we want to practice democracy, we don’t always go with what the majority feel, we also must look to see whether we are protecting the minority whether we like or not.
“Even the pope has asked us to be compassionate so why is it that the state wants to discriminate against them,” Prof Gadzekpo added.
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, Samuel Nartey George; Kpando, Dela Adjoa Sowah; Ho West, Emmanuel Bedzrah; Tamale North, Alhassan Sayibu Suhuyini; Krachi West, Helen Adjoa Ntoso; La Dadekotopon, Rita Naa Odoley Sowah, and South Dayi, 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 this sponsorship and promotion 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 a 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.