President Akufo-Addo’s personal lawyer and longtime friend, Akoto Ampaw, is leading a pro-gay group of intellectuals and middle-class Ghanaians to push back at the ongoing process in Parliament to pass a law to prohibit LGBTQI+ advocacy in Ghana.
On Friday, the group sent a memorandum to Parliament’s Select Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs urging it not to pass the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill, 2021.
The memorandum bastardised the inclination of that Bill, claiming it posed an existential threat to the Republic of Ghana.
“Accordingly, our Constitution affirms and protects the right of Ghanaians and other residents of, or visitors to, Ghana to be free to practice any religion of their choice or to be agnostics or, even, atheists,” the group said.
“From this perspective and the perspective of criminalizing free speech and expression, assembly and the right to free association, from the perspective of violation of the right to freedom from discrimination and the right to human dignity, the LGBTQ++ Bill constitutes an existential threat to the republic and its core values as set out in the Preamble.”
In addition to Lawyer Akoto Ampaw, Professor Emerita Takyiwaa Manuh also signed the memorandum.
Other assenters to the memorandum are Professor Kwame KariKari, Professor Kofi Gyimah-Boadi, Professor Audrey Gadzekpo, Dr. Rose Kutin-Mensah, Dr. Yao Graham, Professor Dzodzi Tsikata and Professor H. Kwasi Prempeh.
The rest are Mr. Kwasi Adu-Amankwah, Dr. Kojo Asante, Mr. Kofi Ofei-Nkansah, Akunu Dake, Tetteh Homerku-Adjjei and Professor Raymond Atuguba.
According to them, the Bill’s purported premise on religious beliefs is skewed and dangerous claiming that even Jesus Christ would have embraced homosexuals and lesbians.
“Even from a Christian viewpoint, the crusade against LGBTQ++ persons as inhuman and evil ought to be considered within the context of what Christ would have done in response to LGBTQ++ persons. Christ’s message was/is that we should love our neighbor and not be judgmental and promote the hate and bigotry that many self-styled Christians exhibit and seek to impose on Ghanaian society. Little wonder, that as recently as June 2021, Pope Francis, head of the Roman Catholic Church, favourably compared the work of a US Catholic priest affirming LGBTQ+ Catholics, to that of Jesus,” the group argued.
But the promoters of the Bill, which was introduced as a private member’s Bill, have not exactly stated religious grounds as the basis for the Bill which was introduced in parliament on Aug. 2 and is expected to go before lawmakers for debate in October.
Gay sex is already punishable with up to three years in jail in Ghana. The bill would also impose a penalty of up to five years imprisonment for being LGBT+ and of 10 years for advocating for their activities.
The draft law promotes conversion therapy by allowing flexible sentencing for an LGBT+ person if they request “treatment” to change their sexual orientation or gender identity
It views LGBTQI+ practitioners as people needing help to change and that their practice among other things threatens the family unit and goes against the cultural norms of Ghana.
However, the memorandum from Akoto Ampaw and his colleagues disputes every ground for the Bill, saying for instance that teenage pregnancy is more threatening to the family unit than homosexuality and lesbianism.
The memorandum also dismisses Ghana’s cultural heritage as largely archaic calling it “so-called culture.” And to buttress this point, it lists practices such as trokosi in the Volta Region and the continued existence of the Gambaga witches camp as evidence that parts of the Ghanaian culture are archaic.
It decries penalties that the Bill is seeking to introduce against gay sexual relationships and activism as going against the fundamental human rights of gays and lesbians. According to it, it promotes homophobia and creates grounds for anti-gay zealotry that could lead to lynching of LGBTQI+ persons.
Meanwhile, the memo argued that the way the Bill was introduced was defective and goes against the constitution because as a private members’ Bill, it seeks to impose cost on the state by advocating that persons who willfully agree to change their LGBTQI+ sexual orientation be given medical care by the state.