You are here: HomeNews2021 05 14Article 1261270

Opinions of Friday, 14 May 2021

Columnist: Kwabena Mensah

Unveiling the religious intolerance

According to the author, we must fight LGBTQ and not with Muslim students seeking the face of God According to the author, we must fight LGBTQ and not with Muslim students seeking the face of God

There is this story (I don't know how true). Every day, a queen's guard was posted to stand under a tree. It had gone on most of the career of the queen's guards. Supervisors always made sure to station a guard under the tree, but the rationale was not clear. Supervisors over the years did it because they came to meet that routine and also followed.

Here is the back story. The queen planted trees all over the city, but one particular tree could not grow because school kids constantly picked its leaves and flowers. The queen asked for a guard to be stationed there to ward off the kids to protect the tree.

40-50years down the line, queens guards were still stationed there. I'm sure you get the moral of the story.

If we maintain age-old institutions for tradition's sake, we would not progress. For example, slavery was in vogue for 500years; that was the tradition until it was abolished.

Girls were not allowed opportunities outside the kitchen; much more vote until the boundary was pushed back. Unfortunately, structural racism still exists here in the US - perhaps all the BLM legislation will push back on those.

Our public schools have been melting pots of our national being for many years. However, this year we see a wave of discrimination; though not new, they are becoming prominent. I want to think that the more obvious reason for this discrimination is fear of allowing LGBTQ into our country rather the preserving the 'purity of our public schools. Yes, public schools, not religious schools.

The obvious unspoken floodgate is to allow LGBTQ+ rights into our school system, so if we shut the door firmly to all change, we avoid LGBTQ+ issues.

The logic is somehow correct, but the danger is this: oppressing religious minorities fractures religious alliances. It is a lost opportunity to push back against LGBTQ+ infiltrating our public space collectively. We are happily embracing Twitter Africa HQ in Ghana and calling western investors to come to Ghana.

From our history, we know that the ship that came with the Bible also came with the gun and schnapps. The same media that brings advancement and refinement (social media, television, internet, business, education, etc.) also carry the seeds of new global cultures and values that alter our culture. If we follow China and remain a closed society, we can beat back abhorred practices. That one way to go

Suppose we allow the religious freedoms we can let - permit Muslim students to pray in public SHS and institutions, make accommodation for Rastafarians to keep their identity, exempt practicing Adventist students from taking exams on weekends, these would in no way break down discipline, order, and integrity of the school system. It would strengthen individual identity, religious tolerance, and social bonds.

If this happens, then Muslims and Christians can form a more robust bulwark against LBGTQ+. I'm yet to see an LGBTO Muslim; they are not confused as some Christian groups are.

Oppress Muslims fear of LGBTQ, and we would force oppressed religious groups to band together to fight for the respect of all their rights. In this scenario, it becomes a hard push to the hard left.

In an open society like Ghana, where we have opened ourselves to all cultural influences from the world and where we are still very beholding to the US, UK, and the developed world, LGBTI acceptance and legalization of same-sex marriage is just a matter of time.

I recall some time back in my undergrad human rights class with over 100 other students; I argued both in a lecture in the final exams that human rights are largely universal but with vast dimensions of cultural relativity.

As a result, firstly, I was ridiculed in class; secondly, for a course that average students made A-, I got a B+. Do we still hold that human rights are absolutely universal?

The influences will keep creeping into our culture, and the courts will always be pushed to uphold freedoms. Judges now will uphold our conservative understanding of freedom.

Still, many lawyers and judges of the next 10+ years are likely to be more exposed to the world and would be more sophisticated in their approach to rights. Therein lies the floodgates of our deepest fear.

I doubt parliament will have the guts to pass an anti-LGBTQ law to bring finality to the matter. Some, perhaps many, are afraid to make statements that may be classified as homophobic and thus be denied travel opportunities -self-preservation at its best.

Until a definite law banning same-sex relations happens, it is but a matter of time, it fully blossoms in Ghana. Across the 54 countries in Africa, 22 allow same-sex sexual relations.

Although some do not allow for same-sex unions, all these 22 nations have decriminalized same-sex relations.

The fight is with LGBTQ, not with Muslim students seeking the face of God and trying to maintain their religious purity.

The struggle is not with Rastafarians, all of whom Jesus would happily minister to them. The fight is not with a few religious minorities seeking to benefit from public institutions their tax cedis cover.

To all the public schools justifying discrimination, fight your real battles with your real opponents and not the unintended public that supports your cause.

Join our Newsletter