The Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill that has come to be known as the Anti-LGBTQ+ Bill is one that has made headlines all over the country lately.
The bill has seen a lot of approval from the Ghanaian society and surprisingly, some blacklash too. Those against this bill stand on certain points to make their case, of which some are spurious.
Some antagonists of this bill claim that Parliament’s interest in making LGBTQ+ illegal in the country is unneeded, unwarranted and that it is not something the House should be concerned about.
Well, these antagonists, knowing fully well the functions of parliamentarians, must have missed the categorical instruction in the first part of article 39(2) of the constitution where it spells out that “The State shall ensure that appropriate customary and cultural values are adapted and developed as an integral part of growing needs of the society as a whole.…”. This article clearly explains the need for Parliament to stand up to this issue.
Knowing well that LGBTQ+ is an affront to our customs and cultural values as a nation, obeying article 39(2) will include standing against and banning LGBTQ+ and it’s associated activities in the country. I would urge that the ban is a move by Parliament to ensure appropriate customary and cultural values are adapted.
Ultimately, Parliament is merely performing a duty assigned by the State under article 39(2).
One of the points raised against this bill is that it criminalizes sympathy for LGBTQ+ people. I see that point as misleading and a misinterpretation of section 12(2)(a) of the bill. The aforementioned section refers to “a person who engages in or participates in an activity that promotes or supports sympathy for an act prohibited under this Act” as having committed an offence and being liable to punishment.
It can be inferred directly from the wording of the quoted subsection above that the bill does not criminalize sympathy for the LGBTQ+ person but rather criminalizes sympathy for the act of LGBTQ+. It is shamefully misleading to interpret this subsection to mean criminalization of sympathy for LGBTQ+ persons.
Another mistruth being propagated by antagonists of the bill is that the bill advocates for violence against the LGBTQ+ community. Upon close perusal of the bill, which is the prerequisite for making any assertions, one would realise the strong presence of section 22 of the bill. The said section of the bill emphatically criminalizes and does not support any form of violence against LGBTQ+ people, whether verbal or physical abuse, hence prohibiting extrajudicial treatment of the LGBTQ+ people.
The section 22 in its second subsection goes on to pronounce punishments that should be meted out to anyone who abuses, harasses or assaults an LGBTQ+ person even if the LGBTQ+ person is accused of an offence. Claims that this bill advocates for violence against the LGBTQ+ community are therefore untrue and do not relate in anyway with the undiluted content of the bill.
The most bizarre of claims made by adversaries of this bill is that the bill preaches hatred for LGBTQ+ people. Sections 20, 21 and 23 of the bill say otherwise. These sections allow for LGBTQ+ persons to access medical help and treatment, have flexible sentencing and admonishes the Ministry to take certain steps to provide assistance in the form of therapy amongst other things for LGBTQ+ people even after their arrest.
A bill which is preaching hate will not suggest or make provisions for these accused LGBTQ+ persons to access help. These sections of the bill therefore disprove the claim that the bill preaches hate. I would say the bill preaches reformation and rehabilitation of these LGBTQ+ people and not hate.
I believe most of the points raised against this bill are born out of misinterpretation of the bill.
Ghanaians are clearly in support of the proscription of LGBTQ+ as the Center for Democratic Development’s afrobarometer report reveals that 93% of Ghanaians do not tolerate LGBTQ+.
I advise that these mistruths about the bill are jettisoned and the bill be passed to promote proper human sexual rights and Ghanaian family values.