The powerful cousin of the President, Nana Akufo-Addo, Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko, nicknamed Ghana’s “Prime Minister”, has spoken against the new anti-LGBTQ+ bill that is set to be laid before Parliament by some eight lawmakers, including Sam George of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and Rev. Ntim Fordjour of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), a Deputy Minister of Education.
According to Gabby, he is at a loss as to the exact motivation of the eight lawmakers, who are behind the Private Members Bill and asked whether it will fix the myriad of problems facing the country, like finding jobs for the youth and fixing our roads?
Gabby posted a UK Guardian development which according to the news portal, had generated outrage in the country and added the following comment to his post: “I am struggling to understand what the promoters of this Bill seek to achieve. Perhaps, it is what will fix the myriad of problems we are facing as a country like finding jobs for the youth and fixing our roads.”
His view as usual has triggered varied reactions from people who believe the bill is a non-starter and others who are harshly rebuking him for his stance on the issue.
“Prior to this bill, what’ve you been doing? Apart from Agyapa, PDS, Ameri deal & the recent Oyerepa (salary 4 ur wives) etc, did you consider jobs and fixing roads? Does this bill prevent you and don little from delivering on your mandate? I thought u guys say there’s nothing to fix,” one user @Black4rina tweeted.
“I shock sef! Let’s focus on solving pressing issues facing us as a nation! We play too much!” user @Pharm Bash tweeted. @CadreFidelis on the other hand had a question for Otchere-Darko, “Jobs nti, we shd b concerned aba our identity as human? Wat has changing names of public universities done to the youth?”
The Private Member’s Bill which is currently at the draft stage is titled: “The Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values, Bill 2021,” and seeks to make the practice of homosexuality illegal.
It is led by the Member of Parliament for Ningo Prampram, Sam George, and seven (7) other MPs, namely Emmanuel Bedzrah of Ho West, Della Adwoa Sowah of Kpando, Rev. John Ntim Forjour of Assin South, Alhassa Sayibu, Suhuyini of Tamale North, Rita Naa Odoley Sowah of La Dadekotopon and Rockson-Nelson Dafeamekpor of South Dayi.
When passed into law, it will become the clearest law in the country banning activities of the same-sex community.
The 36-page bill which has been making the rounds among others advances that sex shall ONLY be between a man and woman. Anything else is illegal. That anyone who participates, promotes, supports, advocates gay sex commits an offense and could be jailed for a minimum of 3 yrs.
The law completely makes illegal, any form of advocacy, group, or discussions on the practice of homosexuality. It is an offense to use any media to discuss the subject. These include individual social media accounts and mainstream media. A media person can be jailed for 5-10 years, while the owner of a media platform may also be jailed.
On Friday, Sam Nartey George, who has described gay rights as a “perversion” and led a group of lawmakers who drafted the bill, dismissed online condemnation of the bill as “uninformed”.
“Homosexuality is not a human right. It is a sexual preference,” he said in a post on Twitter. “We shall pass this bill through.” Foreign diplomats said that they have expressed significant concern over the bill to Ghana’s government.
Ghanaian officials have privately sought to allay fears that that the bill will pass. Parliament has not yet appointed a committee to review the draft legislation and the bill will likely be subject to various amendments before it is passed.
Nana Ama Agyemang Asante, a journalist, and activist in Accra, said she was “stunned by the contents, the crudeness of the language, and the cruelty behind the intent” of the bill.
“I have spent all my time as a journalist advocating for gay rights so I can’t believe that we have arrived at this point where they want to criminalize everything and everyone including the existence of allies, intersex, and asexual folks.”
Among other aspects of the bill that has sparked condemnation, groups or individuals found to be funding groups deemed as advocating for LGBTQ+ rights or offering support could be prosecuted. Marriage would be clearly defined in Ghanaian law as being between a male and female.
Media companies, online platforms and accounts which publish information that could be deemed to encourage children to explore any gender or sex outside of the binary categories of male and female could face 10 years in prison.
Since January, groups across public life, from politicians to journalists, civil and religious leaders, have led fierce condemnation of LGBTQ+ rights and support networks in Ghana. Ghana’s government promised new laws to prohibit pro-gay advocacy, amid hysteria over bolder efforts to establish support for sexual minorities.
A group of eight lawmakers submitted the draft legislation to parliament on 29 June. “Unnatural carnal knowledge” – often interpreted as non-heterosexual sex – is unlawful in Ghana.
Prosecutions are rare, yet many gay and queer people have reported experiencing abuse by citizens and law enforcement agencies.
Amid the growing clamor for a clampdown on those perceived to be promoting LGBTQ+ rights, 21 people were arrested in the city of Ho in March, at a training event for paralegals and other professionals working on supporting vulnerable groups. They were released on bail last month yet many of the defendants are living in safe houses for fear of safety, with some disowned by family members and have lost their jobs.