The Government of Ghana has sent a delegation to London to hold talks on the highly debated anti-LGBTQI+ bill, as rights activists have launched a campaign to mark Pride month.
Since mid-June 2021, the Ghanaian Government has been debating the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill seeking to criminalise LGBTQI+ sexual relationships and associations.
The bill is still at the committee level in Parliament and in private deliberations. There is bipartisan support for the bill among the two major parties, and many churches and other religious institutions have also openly supported anti-gay measures.
Many African countries still retain laws that criminalise homosexuality from their colonial eras. In recent years, however, a few countries started to shift away from their colonial past and scratched many of those laws – including Mozambique in 2015, followed by Botswana and Angola in 2019.
Ghana has long outlawed same-sex relationships, but the new bill aims to introduce even stricter measures threatening to ban LGBTQI+ organisations, and prohibit cross-dressing and same-sex affection such as holding hands. The bill further promotes state support for conversion therapy.
Amidst pressure to fast-track the bill, a four-member delegation from Ghana’s Parliamentary Committee of Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs led by MP Kwame Anyimadu-Antwi has made a trip to London on 12 June to engage and liaise with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) and UK Parliament.
The opposition in Ghana has heavily criticised the visit: “This invitation was actually as a result of a request made by Chairman of the Committee [Kwame Anyimadu-Antwi] to the UK Parliament and other Parliaments, especially in Europe,” said Alhassan Suhuyini, MP for Tamale North.
“I just wonder why the Chairman of the Committee, who claims he does not have funds and does not have money to fast-track the process of considering the bill, will want to spend the funds that he thinks he does not have for his Committee members to tour Europe on this matter.”
The MP has warned that if work on the bill is not concluded, the opposition will not partake in the passage of any other future bill.
In the meantime, rights activists in Ghana have launched an anti-bill campaign to support members of the community and celebrate Pride month with LGBTQI+ billboards spread across Ghana’s capital, Accra.
The move has sparked lot of debate within the public and one billboard mounted on the capital’s highway during the first weekend of June has since been pulled down. Some MPs voting in favour of the bill have reportedly given a 24-hour ultimatum to the head of police to remove the billboard, but it is still not clear who is behind the latest development.
Learn more: Government of Ghana