Ghana May Outlaw LGBTQ Activism In Its Current And Future Forms
The African nation Ghana may ban LGBTQ activism “in all its current and future forms” if members of parliament have their say. The country already outlaws homosexuality.
National security forces recently raided the offices of the country’s only LGBTQ advocacy organization and shut it down.
Ghana has not “prosecuted anyone for same-sex relations in recent years,”However, LGBTQ people still face abuse and bigotry in the West African coast country. Ghana has a mixed record on its treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. It criminalizes “unnatural carnal knowledge” in section 104 (1) (b) of its Criminal Offences Act, which the authorities interpret as “penile penetration of anything other than a vagina.”
It is argued that Ghana’s criminal statute does not outlaw “homosexuality” or “homosexual expression” in general. The Homosexuality implies sexual attraction to a person of the same gender. This suggests that a person who identifies as “gay”, but does not engage in unnatural carnal knowledge would not be caught by Ghana’s criminal laws. Nevertheless, a heterosexual person who engages in “unnatural carnal knowledge” commits an offense, although (s)he is not homosexual.Moreover, the prohibition seems to exclude sexual activities between two or more women. Acts associated with lesbianism
would ordinarily not meet the “penetration” test established under section 99 of Ghana’s Criminal Offences Act for the simple reason that lesbians do not possess a natural penis. Thus, in Ghana, a woman engaged in lesbian activity cannot, technically, be made culpable for offending any law.
As convoluted as the bill sounds, MP Samuel Nartey George, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, still tries to make sense of it by saying, “uphold our traditions, culture and religious beliefs” by fighting back against “the growing advocacy for homosexual rights in Ghana.” George is referring to Christianity, an import into the country from European colonizers who instituted sodomy laws.
“We have taken a stance and announced our intention to present a private members bill to expressly criminalize and ban the advocacy and act of homosexuality in all its current and future forms,” he said. “The proposed bill would strengthen and augment existing legislation on the subject.”
In a 2017 interview with Al-Jazeera, President Nana Akufo-Addo said he believed the country would eventually lift the criminal ban on homosexuality.
“These social, cultural issues, if you like, I don’t believe that in Ghana so far a sufficiently strong coalition has emerged, which is having that impact on public opinion that will say, ‘Change it. Let’s then have a new paradigm in Ghana,’” he said, when asked why homosexuality was still illegal. “I think it is something that is bound to happen,” he added.
“Like elsewhere in the world, the activity of individuals and groups [can make it happen],” he continued, noting that he lived for a time in England as a boy when there were harsh laws against the LGBTQ community in that country. He gave credit to advocates and activists who worked to bring changes to the law and said he believed the same would occur in his own country.
Alex Kofi Donkor, the executive director of LGBT+ Rights Ghana, wrote in a letter to Akufo-Addo.“Mr. President, our plea is not one that seeks to institutionalize same-sex civil unions,” “Ours at this very point is to have some peace in our country and to feel safe. Ours is asking that the state protects us from harm, and that our sexual identities do not become weaponized as a tool of oppression in violating our rights as established under the constitution. “We ask that you remember your oath to serve all manner of persons, and to protect all persons under your charge.”