Feature Article of Saturday, 2 February 2013

Columnist: Baka, Benedicta

Leave Nana Oye Lithur Alone!

I want to use this medium and space to first of all congratulate Nana Oye Lithur and all women who have been nominated by the President to occupy Ministerial and other important positions in his government.

I wish them well even as they go through the vetting process and total success in the discharge of their duties. It is my fervent prayer that they will be able to justify their inclusion and leave indelible marks wherever they find themselves especially those of them who are not ‘party members’.

One person who has however been criticized since her nomination is Nana Oye Lithur, a Lawyer and Human Rights Advocate, nominated as Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection. She has been widely criticized in the media by individuals and a group of people from the clergy. According to them, she made comments in the past that suggests she is in support of homosexuals in Ghana. I find it very difficult to understand as to how and why people are unable to appreciate the angle from which she is coming from. Anyone who believes in human rights and principles of the Fundamental Human Rights as enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Ghana should be able to understand where she is coming from. Article 17(1) of the 1992 Constitution states, “All persons shall be equal before the law (2) A person shall not be discriminated against on grounds of gender, race, colour, ethnic origin, religion, creed or social or economic status".

In my candid opinion, homosexuality is a practice which should not be encouraged neither should it be legalized. It however does not mean people who practice it should be discriminated and criminalized as I have heard many people calling for. I have also heard people calling for their prosecution.

As a Christian, I know the Holy Bible frowns on homosexuality. God actually hates it (Lev. 18:22). I believe Islam and the Holy Quran also do not permit the practice. What we must however note is that, not everyone believes in the Bible and the Quran. It does not mean this minority should be marginalized. It is rather a big challenge to Christians and Muslims to show compassion to these people. That is what the word of God is about. If you believe someone has gone astray, you have to make sure you bring the person back to the right path. Chastising the person will only worsen the situation. Who are we to judge anyway? People are always quick to condemn others forgetting that we are all sinners.

I think the time and energy people spend on criticizing and condemning Nana Oye Lithur should be used in finding ways and means of discouraging people from the practice. Prosecuting them, I think, will not solve this big issue that is staring us in the face as a country. There could be some of them who have been lured into the practice and probably wish they could come out of it but find it difficult to do so. How would he or she have the courage to even speak about it since it is been criminalized?

I would have been among the people who would come out and condemn Nana Oye Lithur if she had called for the legalization of homosexuality in Ghana. She however confirmed at her vetting yesterday that she has never at any point called for that. We must not forget that, in as much as our norms and culture frown on it, people still practice it and as long as our “MIGHTY” Constitution guarantees their rights to privacy and choice, we can only discourage them from practicing it. Even the rights of murderers, rapists, armed robbers, just to mention a few, are guaranteed by our constitution, how much more homosexuals? To those who have been talking about civil rights, Nana Oye Lithur is a Human Rights Advocate and NOT otherwise. She has proved over the years that she is willing to defend the rights of every Ghanaian irrespective of their religion, gender, culture, sexual orientation etc. and that should be encouraged. What we have to concentrate on is whether she is capable of handling the Ministry she has been nominated to head and I think she proved that excellently yesterday during her vetting.

We must, as a country, try to encourage people who prove at all times that they are willing to defend Ghanaians instead of finding faults with them. We should be ashamed as a nation if we are unable to prevent homosexuality from gaining grounds in this country instead of trying to shift all the blames on an individual who spoke her mind. Pastors and Imams as well as opinion leaders should find ways and means of talking to their followers and discouraging them from the practice.

If we are able to do our work well, the practice will be minimized in time if not eliminated. MAY GOD HELP OUR HOMELAND GHANA.

Benedicta Baka, Accra