• Ghana’s current and immediate past Speakers of Parliament have spoken about gay rights
• The two, lawyers and former lawmakers, do not agree that gay rights are human rights
• Parliament is set to debate an anti-LGBTQ+ bill later this month
The debate on an anti-LGBTQ+ Bill continues to rage as proponents and opponents continue heated exchanges to buttress their respective positions.
The bill is currently before Parliament and the role of the current Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, in getting it okayed to be laid before the house was outlined by Ningo Prampram MP, Sam Nartey George, who is the lead promoter of the bill.
According to him, the Speaker who has all along been cooperative of the bill allowed for the bill to go through first reading despite reservations about the fact that it was potentially going to impose a cost on the taxpayer.
The Speaker’s position has in the same vein been criticized by two members of the Majority side in Parliament. The Majority leader wants the Speaker to maintain his role and not speak like a lawmaker. Another lawmaker insists that the Speaker erred by allowing the bill to be laid in the first place.
In the case of Bagbin’s predecessor, Prof Aaron Mike Oquaye, he is on record as vehemently opposing gay rights even though under his tenure the issue did not reach the stage of pushing for legislation to strictly regulate LGBTQ+ activities.
This article looks at the views expressed by the two former lawmakers
Speaker Alban Bagbin in July this year publicly declared his support for the bill, Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill 2021, when he met with a group of Christian clerics in Parliament.
The Speaker also took the opportunity to caution members of the diplomatic community who at the time had openly expressed support for the LGBTQ+ community and reportedly threatened some lawmakers with especially travel sanctions.
“We will not threaten anybody but we shall also not be threatened. Those threatening Members of Parliament who are leading this bill, please be warned.
“We cannot be threatened in our homes, this must be stated loud and clear to those who have come to do business in Ghana. Those who represent their countries and think that they are right, we also represent our country,” he added.
According to him, the bill had the united voice of all Ghanaians who the house represents and it will be passed into law ‘as soon as possible.’
“And they (diplomats) will never, they can never dictate to us as to how to live or not live in this world. And I am very clear in my mind that this house, the parliament of Ghana will pass this bill as soon as possible,” the speaker stressed.
“Our laws abhors any forms of discrimination. We also have the decision of the European Court on Human Rights to guide us in whatever we do…and so on the issue of LGBTQI+ definitely we already have a legal framework within which to work. We will not legislate to infringe on the Human Rights of people, but we will legislate to ensure that culture and traditions are not violated.
“This is something that we see as an abomination, it is something that we abhor and therefore, we will continue to go according to our culture,” Bagbin said at the time.
In May 2018, the former Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, chastised the Western world over what he described as attempts to lure African leaders into embracing homosexuality.
Expressing his abhorrence for the act on Metro TV’s Good Evening Ghana, Prof. Oquaye said it was impossible for African leaders to accept same-sex marriages because they are accountable to none other than the citizens who elected them.
He downplayed any possibility of homosexuality being decriminalized, emphasizing President Akufo-Addo’s stance on the issue.
“They should stop tempting our African leaders. What they asked Museveni, asked Nana Akufo-Addo and all these things. No wonder our president told them to get off because he does not answer to anybody but Ghanaians. He is accountable not to some global homosexual lobbying but to Ghanaians. He’s made it clear that to the best of his knowledge, Ghanaians are not interested in that agenda,” Prof. Oquaye asserted.
He argued further that the lifespan of an American homosexual is likely to surpass that of an African homosexual due to the availability of medications in the West, which prolong the lifespans of foreign homosexuals.
“In the United States, a lot of people who are suffering from AIDS are able to live as a result of new medication found, but you know they are extremely expensive. So when an African gets AIDS Vis a Vis an American, the American will live for a while whiles the African is long gone. Is that the thing they want to recommend to us for our people?” he inquired.
Promoters of the anti-LGBTQ+ Bill
The LGBTQ+ Bill before Parliament is titled: “The Promotion of Proper Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill 2021.” It is a Private Members’ Bill sponsored by a bipartisan group of lawmakers.
The eight MPs who sponsored the Bill are Sam Nartey George (MP, Ningo Prampram), Emmanuel Bedzrah (MP, Ho West) Della Adjoa Sowah (MP, Kpando), John Ntim Fordjour (MP, Assin South) – the sole NPP MP sponsoring the Bill.
The remaining sponsors are Alhassan Sayibu Suhuyini (MP, Tamale North), Helen Adjoa Ntoso (MP, Krachi West), Rita Naa Odoley Sowah (MP, La Dadekotopon) and Rockson-Nelson Dafeamekpor (MP, South Dayi).
Ghana’s pro-gay collective
A group of 18 academicians and human rights defenders have voiced strong opposition to the bill before Parliament, which is seeking to extensively criminalize the activities of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, LGBTQ+.
The group submitted a memorandum to Parliament seeking that the bill be rejected because it was largely unconstitutional and infringed on basic human rights.
Members of Parliament behind the bill, led by Ningo Prampram MP Sam Nartey George, have rubbished the memorandum and asserted that the bill will be passed into law because it has the support of the wider Ghanaian populace.