Ghana’s president in tight spot over anti-LGBT law

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08/12/2021

Opposition lawmakers in Ghana are pushing President Nana Akufo-Addo into a tight spot by promoting an anti-LGBT law widely condemned by critics for undermining rights but applauded by many Ghanaians. Gay sex is already illegal in the highly religious West African nation, but while discrimination against LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people is common, no one has ever been prosecuted under the colonial-era law. A proposal that includes criminalising LGBT advocacy, requirements to denounce “suspects”, advocates for conversion therapy and imposes longer jail sentences was introduced in parliament earlier this month. The international community has joined activists in condemning the “promotion of proper human sexual rights and Ghanaian family values bill” drafted by eight lawmakers, mostly from the opposition party. “Adopting the legislation in its current or any partial form would be tantamount to a violation of a number of human rights standards, including the absolute prohibition of torture,” a group of UN experts said in a statement. “It will not only criminalise LGBTI people, but anyone who supports their human rights, shows sympathy to them or is even remotely associated with them.” If the text is passed by parliament, the president can either decide to ignore critics and sign it, or veto it — something analysts and diplomats say he may be unwilling to do, given widespread support for anti-LGBT legislation.

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