Bishops of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference (Photo: Facebook)
The Catholic Church of Ghana has sought to dispel confusion about its stance on homosexuality, taking the opportunity to justify its backing of the country’s pending anti-LGBTQ+ bill.
The church’s earlier vocal support for the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill was recently thrown into question when high-ranking Vatican Cardinal Peter Turkson from Ghana told the BBC that gay people “may not be criminalised because they’ve committed no crime.”
Anti-LGBTQ+ MPs were also infuriated when Rev Matthew Gyamfi, who is the President of the Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference, appeared to support Turkson’s position.
In an intellectually and morally bankrupt communique issued by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference on Monday, the clerics aimed to reconcile Cardinal Turkson’s view with their support for the inhuman bill by employing the “love the sinner but hate the sin” argument.
They asserted that the Catholic Church makes a distinction between “the homosexual condition or tendency” and “individual homosexual actions”.
Homosexual Condition vs. Homosexual Acts
The bishops quoted Pope Francis’ statement that the homosexual person needs to be “respected in his or her dignity and treated with consideration, and every sign of unjust discrimination is to be carefully avoided, particularly any form of aggression or violence.”
They agreed that “it is not right to inflict physical or other types of violence on homosexuals just because they are homosexuals. Their being homosexuals does not mean that they should be treated like criminals.”
Homosexual acts, however, are seen differently by the Catholic Church, which describes them as “intrinsically disordered” and “in no case to be approved of.” This, the bishops claim, means that “while homosexual people are to be loved and respected and not be discriminated against, homosexual acts are intrinsically immoral and must be condemned.”
The clerics conclude “that while it is not right to criminalise homosexuals just for being homosexuals, the State is within its right to criminalise the acts of homosexuals in the interest of the nation.”
Endorsement of Anti-LGBTQ+ Bill
On this basis, the bishops expressed the view that the anti-LGBTQ+ bill, which is being considered in parliament, “is in the right direction, as it seeks to enact laws against criminal homosexual acts.”
They further commended lawmakers for the effort and time spent on the bill and expressed their hope that when passed into law, “it will indeed promote proper human sexual rights and authentic Ghanaian family values which are under threat from homosexual acts.”
Under Ghana’s existing Criminal Code, consensual same-sex sexual relations are already criminalised with up to three years in prison.
According to a draft that was made public, the new bill would further criminalise homosexuality as well as LGBTQ+ identities in general; which seems to conflict with the bishops’ position that a person’s gay identity shouldn’t be a crime. Merely identifying as LGBTQ+ or as an LGBTQ+ ally would carry a penalty of three to five years in prison . Advocating for LGBTQ+ rights in any way would carry a potential prison sentence of up to ten years.