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General News of Saturday, 8 June 2013

Source: myjoyonline.com

GJA president under fire for anti-gay comments

Media expert, Prof. Audrey Gadzekpo has dismissed the call on journalists to take an anti-gay stance against gays and lesbians in their reportage. The call was made by Affail Monney, president of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA).

Mr. Affail Monney told Joy News on Thursday urging anti-gay media stance.

“The media do not have to take a posture of neutrality as far as right and wrong are concerned”, Mr. Affail Monney said, adding that homosexuality is an issue that is totally wrong, it is morally repugnant, culturally offensive, legally unacceptable and because our laws frown on man sleeping with man and woman sleeping with woman.

But speaking on Joy FM's Top Story, Professor Audrey Gadzekpo of the School of Communications, University of Ghana said she found the appeal by the GJA president "bizzare" and "wrong-footed".

She said it was the responsibility of journalists to protect the rights of the vulnerable and marginalized in society. The practice of journalism needed broad-minded and critical thinkers to present thoroughly investigated issues of public concern, she added.

She acknowledged the deep cultural bias against the practice of homosexuality in the country and challenged journalists to find out from conservative groups like religious organisation and chiefs, the basis for this bias.

In her view, issues of homosexuality are complex and the president’s pronouncement did not consider tons of research on the matter. It would be better for Affail Monney to "leave evangelical right wing pastors" to make pronouncements on the issue, she suggested.

She compared the president's call to apartheid South Africa where a white minority marginalized and denied a black majority certain basic human rights because of the colour of their skin.

The associate professor advised the GJA to focus on 'the morality of the issues' facing journalists and "look after the welfare of your people" instead of attempting to foist his "personal views" on the Association.

“I can think of 10 million things we should be doing than what people do in their bedroom”, Gadzekpo said.

Professor Attuafuah, a human rights lawyer and criminologist also contributed to the discussion.

He said although section 104 of the criminal code criminalizes "unnatural carnal knowledge", proving this would involve installing "cameras in bedrooms".

The gay question is a question of identity, he said, adding even if Ghana had a law against homosexuality, it would be impossible for the law to prosecute persons based on any "outward manifestation" of the practice such as men holding of hands or the wearing of certain gay symbols.

To him, there are numerous, compelling challenges of our time, that deserved the attention of the Association.

One of them is the pervasive lawlessness in our society, the criminologist pointed out.

The call by the president may be an attempt to "ride on the high crest of public disavow" to make a name for himself, he asserted.

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