LGBTQI: Pronouncements of Akufo-Addo and some ministers
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The topic of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgender, Queer and Intersex, LGBTQI; is back in the news headlines for obvious reasons in Ghana.
A Private Members’ Bill aimed at criminalizing all activities of the LGBTQI fraternity, led by Ningo Prampram Member of Parliament, Same George; has generated a lot of discussions.
This is the “second coming” of the topic this year after it reached a crescendo earlier this year when activists opened a center in Accra, which facility was swiftly shut down by the police.
During February’s vetting of ministerial nominees, the question of same-sex relationships and the position of the law on it came up with a number of nominees quizzed by the Appointments Committee.
With the return of LGBTQI in Ghana at the forefront of the national conversation, GhanaWeb revisits statements made by some ministers about the phenomenon.
Here is how the then nominees responded to the subject during their vetting:
Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey – Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration
Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey when answering a question during her vetting on Thursday, February 11, 2021, stated that Ghana’s laws clearly criminalize the practice.
According to her, Ghana as a sovereign country has its own laws that its citizenry must abide by regardless of the relationship the country has established with other countries.
“Ghana is a sovereign country but as part of our foreign policy we engage countries all over the world; America is one of our strongest friends. But in this country, we have laws. And our laws work and must work.
“So, in spite of what somebody will say and in this case President Biden, the laws of Ghana criminalizes on unlawful carnal knowledge and therefore the laws of Ghana definitely are supreme and that is what we all adhere to,” she noted.
Godfred Dame – Attorney General and Minister for Justice
For his part, the government’s chief legal advisor stressed the position of existing legislation on the issue.
He submitted: “I think what is required is a free society that will not necessarily victimize persons but that should not be misconstrued to mean that the state cannot put in place certain laws which protect its customs and traditions of the people.”
Sarah Adwoa Safo – Minister of Women, Children and Social Protection
In her response to the question, she said, “Mr Chair, the issue of LGBT is an issue that when mentioned, it creates some controversy but what I want to say is that our laws are clear on such practice. It makes it criminal. Section 104 of the Criminal Code prohibits one from having unnatural carnal knowledge with another person. So, on the issue of its criminality, it is non-negotiable.
She continued that, “On the issue of our cultural acceptance and norms, these practices are also frowned upon. So, for me, these are two distinct clarities on the matter and that is what I strongly stand for,” she explained.
Kojo Oppong Nkrumah – Minister of Information
The then minister-designate for Information said he believed that a more radical approach should be adopted: develop a legislation barring the advocacy of LGBTQ activities.
According to him, given the current advocacy around the legalization of homosexuality in the country, the country needs to consider passing a law that tackles its promotion because the practice in itself is culturally unacceptable and goes contrary to section 104 of the Criminal Code, 1960.
“Customary law frowns on LGBT activities. People say despite the criminal code on the general position of customary law, it is just mere expression, they are just advocating for it but if you ask me about law and background, I will say that is when somebody like me will argue that then we should be able to contemplate legislation in the interest of public morality.
“Which will not be against the constitution but we will now say that you cannot advocate for and promote LGBT activities in this country,” he averred.
Rev Ntim Fordjour – Deputy Minister of Education
In his case, the clergyman and lawmaker posted his views about LGBTQ+ on his social media handle at a time the issue of their office opening came up.
Part of his views was as follows: “Contrary to the notion that persons practicing LGBTQI in Ghana are discriminated against, I strongly hold the view that persons practicing LGBTQI are rather unfortunately pampered and treated with kids’ gloves in Ghana.
“This position of mine, among other references, is premised on the seeming public ‘glorifying’ on media of acts which are serious contravention of our law. The impunity of open and public advocacy and practice of LGBTQI is on the rise largely because perpetrators have not been prosecuted,” Rev Fordjour said in a statement.
“It is appalling and most hypocritical that a state that abhors LGBTQI practices on religious and cultural orientation as well as criminalizes same practices per our Criminal Code would sit unconcerned for such impunity to be perpetrated.
“Some of us, regardless of the ramifications, cannot shut up! I’ll keep up the advocacy for further strengthening of our laws to completely and assertively deal with the complexities of LGBTQI matters and will continue to explore my legislative options under the private members’ bill until such a time when existing laws will be confidently enforced with additional laws proscribing the advocacy for LGBTQI practices in Ghana,” he said.
The most definitive view of the government on the matter was shared by the President in late February when he stated that it will not be under his watch that same-sex relations will be legalized.
“I have said it before, and let me stress it again, that it will not be under the Presidency of Nana Addo Dankwah Akufo-Addo that same-sex marriage will be legal,” he said whiles attending the installation of the 2nd Archbishop of the Anglican Church held in Asante Mampong.