Ghana: anti-gay bill proposing 10-year prison sentences sparks outrage

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7/23/21

Draft anti-gay legislation submitted to Ghana’s parliament could propose up to 10 years in jail for LGBTQ+ people as well as groups and individuals who advocate for their rights, express sympathy or offer social or medical support, in one of the most draconian and sweeping anti-gay laws proposed around the world. Support for intersex people would also be criminalised and the government could direct intersex people to receive “gender realignment” surgery, said the draft legislation. A leaked copy of the promotion of proper human sexual rights and Ghanaian family values bill, widely circulated online and confirmed as authentic by diplomats with access to the draft bill, has sparked outrage and growing fear among human rights activists. The bill would be the first major step in criminalising the sexual minorities and their supporters since independence from colonial rule. The prospect of harsh new laws has been hailed by numerous MPs and supported by figures in President Nana Akufo-Addo’s government. It follows a wave of repression against LGBTQ+ people in the west African country since January this year. In February, a community space offering support for sexual minorities was forced to close amid a backlash from politicians, civil and religious groups and the media, and also led to a rise in arrests and abuse against people perceived to be gay or queer. On Friday, Sam Nartey George, an MP who has described gay rights as a “perversion” and led a group of lawmakers who drafted the bill, dismissed online condemnation of the bill as “uninformed”. “Homosexuality is not a human right. It is a sexual preference,” he said in a post on Twitter. “We shall pass this bill through.” Foreign diplomats said that they have expressed significant concern over the bill to Ghana’s government. Ghanaian officials have privately sought to allay fears that that the bill will pass. Parliament has not yet appointed a committee to review the draft legislation and the bill will likely be subject to various amendments before it is passed.

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