Dark Day for Africa as Ghana Votes to Make Being LGBTIQ Illegal


Ghana’s queer community has been plunged into crisis after the country’s Parliament passed an appalling bill that will jail people for up to three years, simply for identifying as LGBTIQ.

Amid laughter and the citing of biblical passages, MPs voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to approve the legislation which the country’s human rights groups have labelled a danger to democracy and a violation of several fundamental constitutional rights.

The oppressive Human Sexual Rights and Family Values Bill not only criminalises LGBTIQ identities but also further outlaws “related activities”, including same-sex intimacy, same-sex marriage, cross-dressing and even the use of sex toys.

Anyone found guilty of forming, funding or running LGBTIQ organisations or groups or the “willful promotion, sponsorship, or support of LGBTIQ activities” could be jailed for up to five years.

The bill will now be sent to President Nana Akufo-Addo to sign it into law, something which he’s previously indicated he is likely to do.

The Commonwealth Equality Network described the news of the bill’s passage as “devastating” and asserted that it “is counter to the values of human rights, respect and tolerance enshrined in the Commonwealth Charter.”

UNAIDS Executive Director Winnie Byanyima warned that if the bill becomes law, it “will exacerbate fear and hatred, could incite violence against fellow Ghanaian citizens, and will negatively impact on free speech, freedom of movement and freedom of association.”

She added that “it will obstruct access to life-saving services, undercut social protection, and jeopardise Ghana’s development success.”

On Tuesday, a coalition of Ghanaian lawyers and human rights groups called on President Akufo-Addo not to assent to the bill.

“This bill criminalises a person’s identity and strips away the rights of many groups in Ghana, including the media,” said the coalition. “If it becomes law, not only will it mark a sharp departure from both domestic and international human rights standards, but it will also undermine the fundamental rights journalists have to do their work without fear of being held criminally liable.” 

The Ghana bill is reflective of a worrying trend of growing state sanctioned intolerance and hate towards LGBTIQ people in parts of Africa, sparked in part by last year’s passage of Uganda’s draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill which makes some consenting same-sex acts punishable by execution.

According to Amnesty International, 31 countries still criminalise consensual same-sex sexual activity in Africa, in flagrant violation of international law.

Get the Mamba Newsletter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend