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BREAKING: Ghana’s Parliament Passes ‘Extreme’ Anti-LGBTQ Bill

Under this new bill, anyone found engaging in LGBTQ+ practices will be subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 6 months, with the potential for up to 3 years imprisonment.

ACCRA, Feb 28 – Ghana’s Parliament has unanimously passed the controversial Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill after months of deliberation.

Dubbed the anti-LQGBTQ+ Bill, this new legislation prescribes a 3-year jail term for identifying as LGBTQ+ and a maximum of five (5) years for the willful promotion, sponsorship, or support of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer+ (LGBTQ+) activities in the country.

For the bill to become law, president Akufo-Addo would have to assent to it.

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The bill has been described by both local and international humanitarian agencies as an “extreme” legislation that tightens the laws against members of Ghana’s LGBTQ+ community.

Days ago, the Majority Leader Alexander, Afenyo-Markin, said in an interview on Citi TV that the bill is not likely to endure a rigorous constitutional examination at the Supreme Court.

“The law, in its current state, presents constitutional dilemmas that I foresee will not endure a rigorous constitutional examination,” he said during the interview.

Mr Markin was one of the Members of Parliament who had openly criticized parts of the bill. On February 16, he filed a last-minute motion for a second consideration of the bill to remove prison sentences in the proposed law.

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Given Ghana’s current economic crisis, this bill comes at a critical time when the country is seeking a bailout from the International Monetary Fund.  Shortly after the bill was passed, the IMF, in a statement copied to Bloomberg, revealed that its policies detest discrimination and that it is closely monitoring the situation in Ghana.

The Ministry of Finance has also asked the president to defer signing the Bill indicating that Ghana could possibly lose US$3.8 billion in World Bank Financing over the next five to six years.

For President Akufo-Addo whose party seeks to retain power in the December 2024 elections, and who ran for president on his reputation as a human rights lawyer, he has a tough decision to make in terms of signing the bill into law.

LGBTQ Rights in Africa

Same-sex relationship is outlawed in most African countries. Besides cultural arguments, homosexual relationships are criminalized with colonial-era laws that punish and discriminate against LGBTQI people.

If this bill becomes law, Ghana will join countries like Nigeria, Mauritania, Senegal, Sudan and Tanzania where strict laws exist to punish homosexuals. In Nigeria, for instance, under the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act (2013), “carnal knowledge against the order of nature” with anyone, could incur a penalty of up to 14 years in prison.

In 2006, South Africa became the first country in Africa and the fifth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage.  The Supreme Court of Namibia also ruled in May 2023 that foreign same-sex marriages must be recognized equally to heterosexual marriages.

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