Majority Leader fighting Speaker over anti-LGBTQ+ bill years after supporting Mike Oquaye

Majority Leader of Parliament, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu says it was out of place for the Speaker, Alban Bagbin, to have made a predetermination concerning the passing of the “Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values 2021” bill.

According to him, the Speaker is technically not a Parliamentarian and thus cannot make such a commitment on behalf of Parliament.

But this was not the first time a speaker of parliament had spoken against LBGTQ+ matters.

Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye was the first speaker in the history of Ghana’s Parliament to have stated emphatically that homosexuality has no place in the Ghanaian society.

Giving his ‘intellectual position’ on the issue of homosexuality, Prof. Mike Oquaye in November 2017 declared that the practice is against the Ghanaian culture, adding that “Ghana is a very religious country” and “Ghanaians do not like that kind of thing.”

This was after, President Akufo-Addo, in an interview with Aljazeera on why Ghana’s laws still criminalize homosexuality said “This is the socio-cultural issue if you like…I don’t believe that in Ghana, so far, a sufficiently strong coalition has emerged which is having that impact on public opinion that will say: ‘Change it [the law], let’s then have a new paradigm in Ghana.”

A lot of Ghanaians however reacted to President Akufo-Addo’s answer with contempt including religious leaders and other high-profile personalities who have demanded clarity on the statement.

According to Prof. Oquaye, marriage between a man and a woman is the only acceptable form of union and would not be replaced by that of same sex.

“It would be rather appalling to witness the marriage of two people – one with a moustache, the other with a beard.”

Prof. Mike Oquaye, a former political science lecturer and a reverend minister of the Presby Church, noted then that the marriage institution is held in high esteem in the typical Ghanaian society considering the staunch religious background of the country.

“Ghanaians are also Christians, Ghanaians are Muslims… it is clearly against the Christian [and Muslim] principles.”

“So where will it pass to come.” Prof. Mike Oquaye, quizzed.

President Akufo-Addo has remained quiet about the ongoing debate but many have said he is not in favour of the bill.

However, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu at a press briefing organised by the Majority Caucus in Parliament has addressed issues surrounding the anti-LGBT bill and choose to go after Mr. Bagbin.

He said, “the Speaker cannot commit parliament, the Speaker can make a referral to Parliament which will be programmed by the business committee for consideration.

“I’ll find it difficult if we have a Speaker who as part of his own antecedent as a former member of parliament say that parliament is going to pass the bill. It’s a bit of difficulty unless I didn’t hear well.”

“I’m not saying parliament is not going to pass it, but the speaker should not make a predetermination for the house because he’s not a Member of Parliament and this is the business of Parliament,” he added.

The proponents of the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values 2021 bill are seeking to criminalise the LGBTQ community in Ghana.

Should it be passed, persons who identify as LGBTQ and or engage in said practice could face up to five years imprisonment.

LGBT activists could also face up to 10-year-jail time.

Portions of the bill proposed that “a person who, by use of media, technological platform, technological account or any other means, produces, procures, markets, broadcasts, disseminates, publishes or distributes a material for purposes of promoting an activity prohibited under the Bill, or a person uses an electronic device, the Internet service, a film, or any other device capable of electronic storage or transmission to produce, procure, market, broadcast, disseminate, publishes or distribute a material for purposes of promoting an activity prohibited under the Bill commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a term of imprisonment of not less than five years and not more than ten years.”

Proponents say they have the overwhelming support of Ghanaians, one of the reasons why they are pushing that it be passed expeditiously.

However, the legislation faces stiff opposition as the Parliament’s Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs has received over 120 memos geared towards shaping the bill.

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