July 23, 2024

The passage of the Promotion of Human Sexual Rights and Family Values bill also known as the anti-LGBTQ/Gay bill has brought divided opinions with a section of Ghanaians supporting it, whilst others are against it.

Some Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), as well as some notable individuals have equally expressed their position on the bill which is yet to be assented by the President.

 

But the National Peace Council has said it cannot take a position on the matter because of the mediation role it plays in the country to instill peace.

According to the Chairman, the Peace Council cannot take sides on such matters knowing the possibility of a future adjudication on the matter between different parties.

Reverend Dr. Ernest Adu Gyamfi told sit-in host of Hot Issues, Alfred Ocansey, that the National Peace Council is waiting to see how things will unfold in relation to the bill.

“We don’t have a position on the passage of the Anti-LGBTQ bill because we are mediators, we don’t take sides on issues like this.

“There are several issues that have come to us that people expected us to take sides, but realised it was important to remain neutral when they later came for conflict resolution. We are waiting to see how things will unfold, so we know if to mediate/intervene in the event of a conflict,” he indicated.

The Anti-Gay Bill proscribes LGBTQ activities and criminalises its promotion, advocacy and funding in Ghana.

It subjects persons caught in the act to 6 months to 3 year jail term with promoters and sponsors of the act bearing a 3 to 5 year jail term.

The bill’s sponsors, ahead of the passage, filed a motion for a further consideration stage of it.

Samuel Nartey George, the lead sponsor, proposed that clauses 10 and 11 of the bill which deals with editorial policies of media firms be subjected to Article 12 of the 1992 Constitution which provides for the freedom of the media.

Parliament approved the amendments as part of the bill.

Majority Leader, Alexander Afenyo-Markin, on his part filed a motion for clause 12 of the bill which deals with the funding of LGBT activities to be subjected to the constitution but that was negated by the House.

Meanwhile, a human rights coalition, comprising of CDD Ghana, “the big 18” and others have called on President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo not to assent to the bill when passed by Parliament in its current state.

Board Chair of the CDD, Audrey Gadzekpo, addressing the media in Accra Tuesday, February 27, 2024, noted that the Bill, when passed, will infringe on the fundamental human rights of many, including the media, as enshrined by the 1992 Constitution.

Professor Gadzekpo said “we observed that proposals to amend the Bill to substitute community services for incarceration that was made by the Member of Parliament for Effutu, Mr. Afenyo-Markin, was unfortunately rejected. Although his amendments were opposed by the majority of the house leading to a removal of the proposed amendments, we appreciate his effort aimed at reforming our justice system.”

On Wednesday February 21, the then Deputy Majority Leader, Alexander Afenyo-Markin withdrew his amendments to the anti-LGBTIQ+ bill which seeks to impose a prison sentence paving way for the Bill to be considered for passage in the coming days.

However, the coalition of civil society organizations and interest groups maintained, the Bill must be relooked at.

“Ghana is a secular and multi-religious country with over 50 ethnic groups with different cultural practices and beliefs. Any attempt to create a single cultural value system for Ghana erases the beautiful cultural mosaic that makes us a unique people.” Professor Gadzekpo posited.

She further explained that “it is for this reason that the constitution abolishes all practices and laws detrimental to people’s health and well-being, even in the name of culture and tradition.”

The coalition noted that, the Bill will undermine journalists’ ability to speak freely. The Bill in its current form states, “any person that uses the media to broadcast and slash or advocate on LGBTQ+ topic faces a prison sentence of up to three years.”

The group believe that “this places a heavy restriction on journalists, bloggers, influencers and various social media users who produce or publish content, especially those who work in the field of human rights.”

They want the President to block the bill when passed by Parliament. They believe the bill in its state will negatively affect the democratic gains of the country.

“As a result of this, we urge the President not to assent to the Human Sexual Rights and Family Values Bill 2021,” the professor concluded.

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