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Opinions of Monday, 11 October 2021

Columnist: ghanaiantimes.com

Public debate heats up as nation awaits Parliament to ponder bill

LGBTQ+ act is not acceptable in most African countries LGBTQ+ act is not acceptable in most African countries

Barely a week after a group of lawyers and academicians kicked against the anti-LGBTQI+ Bill, the debate is gaining momentum.

The debate for and against has heated up with both sides taking entrenched positions.

While those who support the Bill are increasing in numbers, those who are against it had also seen their numbers increased.

The expectation is that before Parliament resumes to ponder over the Bill, positions would remain the same.

Over the last few days, the clergy, traditional leaders, Muslim and Christian groups, and individuals have made their positions clear; they are vehemently opposed to the activities of the LGBQTI+ in Ghana.

On the other hand, those who are against it argue that when passed into law, it would infringe on the rights of lesbians and gays in the country.

The discussion is getting confrontational each passing day, especially in conservative communities across the country with every nuance argued hysterically.

In some communities such as Ashaiman, a renowned Islamic scholar, Imam Abass Abdul Kareem, had told journalists at a press conference in Accra last week that the youth are urging Muslim leaders to rise up against lesbians and gays in the community.

A private legal practitioner, Akoto Ampaw, had said that the current debate on homosexuals in Ghana “is not about religious beliefs or numbers.”

According to him, it is about human rights issues. Speaking on the Key Points on TV3/3FM on Saturday, Akoto Ampaw was quoted as saying that the debate was not about religious beliefs or numbers. “It is not lining up how many people support gays -30million, how many people are against gay – 2million, that is not the issue.”

“The fundamental issue has to do with our constitution and rights. That is the basic issue that we have to address.”

He added that “It is a bit gratifying that just recently the Majority leader in Parliament said that the matter will not be discussed on the basis of religious beliefs.

I think that is a major step forward if that is how parliament is going to address this matter. It is a constitutional matter.”

In a related development, the dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA), Professor Kofi Abotsi has said the debates for gay rights or criminalization in Ghana was unwinnable.

According to him, both sides are digging in and positions are becoming irrational and untenable.

“The debates for gay rights or criminalization are unwinnable! Both sides are digging in and positions are becoming irrational and untenable and this is crowding out good reasons and circumspection as lawmakers ponder the bill and its intents!” he said in a tweet on Thursday, October 7.

On his part, Sam Nartey George, the Member of Parliament for Ningo-Prampram and sponsor of the Bill had argued that lesbianism and gayism were alien to Ghanaian culture.

He said the Bill, called the Promotion of Proper Human and Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values which was presented to the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Kingsford Sumana Bagbin on Tuesday, June 29 seeks to maintain proper sexual orientation rather than infringing on the rights of persons who practice same-sex.

Meanwhile, the Majority Leader, Simon Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, the Member of Parliament for Suame had declined to state his position on the Bill.

“When we talk of parliament, the Majority Leader is the leader of the house. So, if I declare a position now, it will be interpreted as the position of Parliament, either mean that the house is in support of the bill or we are against,” he told Kwame Nkrumah Tikese, the host of Okay FM’s political programme.

Over the weekend, the clergy, chiefs, and a cross-section of Muslims and Christians waded into the debate in support of the bill, while others were vehemently against it.