General News of Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Source: myjoyonline

Gays have rights and I will protect them - Oye Lithur

Minister designate for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Nana Oye Lithur says gays and lesbians, like all others in Ghana have rights which must be protected.

She said the constitution guarantees the rights of all persons, irrespective of their sexual preferences and every citizen's rights must be protected.

Oye Lithur has come under attack for advocating for the rights of gays and lesbians in Ghana.

A group calling itself concerned clergy accused her of promoting the practice of homosexuals in Ghana and vowed to kick against her approval as substantive minister.

They claimed her action as an advocate for gays and lesbians is an affront to Ghana’s cultural values.

They sent an unsigned petition to Parliament’s Appointment Committee, where Oye Lithur is being vetted for her position as Minister, spelling out their objection to her nomination.

When Oye Lithur appeared before the committee on Wednesday, the Majority side of committee took turns to grill the minister designate on her position on gays and lesbians.

She had earlier in an answer to a question posed by Member of Parliament for Ledzorkuku Mrs Okity Duah said she had never said the practice of homosexuality be promoted in Ghana.

What she has done is to support the rights of all Ghanaians irrespective of sexual preferences, she insisted.

But when she was pushed further by Member of Parliament for Akwatia Baba Jamal to state her position on whether she supported the practice of homosexuality, she said her view on the subject was personal.

Apparently not impressed by the answer by the minister designate, Baba Jamal stated that the country’s customary laws frowned on the practice of homosexuality and lesbianism and that that should be the guiding principle.

But Oye Lithur retorted saying the constitution of Ghana remained supreme and so long as it has not criminalized the practice of gays and lesbianism, their rights have to be protected.

Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Okudzeto Ablakwa, asked a pointed question whether the minister designate would want to have the practice of gays and lesbianism criminalized in Ghana, Oye Lithur said that was a decision for the society to take.