Ghana closer to passing bill that will crack down LGBT people

Ghana closer to passing bill that will crack down LGBT people

Ghana is moving closer to passing a bill that will introduce heavier criminal penalties for the LGBT community.

The West African nation’s Parliament on Wednesday, February 21 rejected an amendment that would have seen jail term for people who promote gay sex replaced with non-custodial sentences.

The Bill, which enjoys the backing of a coalition of Christian, Muslim and traditional leaders, if passed into law will see those promoting rights of lesbian, gay or other “non-conventional” sexual or gender identities jailed for up to 10 years.

While introducing the highly rejected amendment, ruling-party lawmaker Alexander Afenyo-Markin had argued that imprisoning people for LGBT offences would only worsen the situation.

The sponsors of the Bill want it passed into law by March 2024.

‘Anti-LGBT push harms democracy’

But some human rights groups have expressed concerns that the anti-LGBT push in Ghana will harm the country’s democracy.

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) says recent events in Ghana have raised fear among human rights activists, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and allies.  

The HRW highlights a case in September 2023 where a 17-year-old student was dismissed from a boys’ boarding school in Accra on allegations that he was gay.

“In my former capacity as a lecturer in political science, I used to cite Ghana as a stable country in West Africa where the rule of law prevailed. However, challenges such as the current discrimination against LGBT people, alongside other obstacles including the underrepresentation of women in politics and the shrinking of civic space, are compromising Ghana’s success story. Today, there is a deepened trepidation among human rights defenders and civil society organizations working on social justice and sexual and gender diversity,” Larissa Kojoué, a researcher, says.

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