The Eighteen-Member Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of Parliament on Thursday November 11, 2021 held its first public hearing on a Private Members’ Bill that would make it illegal to be gay or to advocate for gay rights.
The Committee is under the chairmanship of Kwame Anyimadu-Antwi, the Member of Parliament for Asante-Akim Central in Ashanti with Bernard Ahiafor representing the people of Akatsi South from Volta Region in the august House serving as the Ranking Member.
Among speakers at the Sitting were legal luminary Lawyer Akoto Ampaw, Professor Takyiwah Manu, Professor H. Kwasi Prempeh and other renowned individuals opposing the passage of the Bill.
The Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill, 2021 which was introduced to the House in July 2021 underwent its First Reading by Parliament on Monday 2nd August, 2021.
The proposed legislation which aims to provide for proper human sexual rights and Ghanaian family values seeks to restrict LGBTQ+ communities and any activities related to them.
The new Bill would go much further, criminalising the promotion and funding of LGBTQ+ activities as well as public displays of affection, cross-dressing and more, while campaigning for LGBTQ+ persons on social media or online platforms is also prohibited under the Bill.
The Bill further seeks to provide for protection of and support for children, persons who are victims or accused of LBBTTQQIAAP+ and related activities and other persons and related matters while people advocating the rights of these sexual minorities will also be penalized.
Proponents of the Bill want the promotion, advocacy, funding, and acts of homosexuality to be criminalized in the country saying it is a world-class piece of legislation which should be a reference material for other Parliaments seeking to pass similar legislation.
The memorandum accompanying the Bill said the object of the Bill is to provide for proper human sexual rights and Ghanaian family values, proscribe LGBTQ+ and related activities, propaganda of, advocacy for or promotion of LGBTTQQIAAP+ and related activities.
The Member of Parliament for Ningo-Prampram Constituency, Sam George, who led the proponents in championing the passage of the Bill into law, presumed it is a landmark legislation that has taken a fantastic team of professionals to put together.
Other MPs that joined in presenting the Bill include, Emmanuel Bedzrah (Ho West) Della Adjoa Sowah (Kpando), John Ntim Fordjour (Assin South), Alhassan Sayibu Suhuyini (Tamale North), Helen Adjoa Ntoso (Krachi West), Rita Naa Odoley Sowah (La Dadekotopon) and Rockson Nelson Dafeamekpor (South Dayi).
The Committee scheduled to undertake public hearings said it had received more than 150 memoranda from individuals, groups and faith-based organizations on the Bill and is expected to hear 10 petitions each week in a series of public sessions before the Bill is put to a vote at the plenary.
The Group of Concern Ghanaian Citizens, Human Rights Coalition, Ghana Aids Commission, Amnesty International and the United Nations Office of the Resident Co-coordinator who all expressed their outright rejection and condemnation of the Bill were part of the first group that appeared before the Committee on its first public hearing.
The Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council (GPCC), Church of Pentecost and Advocates for Christ who in their presentation pledged total support for the Bill also took turns to appear before the Committee,
Calling themselves human rights experts, opponents to the Bill urged the Committee to reject it, saying it will establish a system of state-sponsored discrimination and violence against sexual minorities because they have seen a spike in homophobic attacks since the Bill was introduced in the House.
Mr. Akoto Ampaw representing the coalition against the Bill was met with occasional jeers as he told the Committee the Bill violates virtually all the key fundamental freedoms and human rights guaranteed under the Constitution and will be totalitarian and unconstitutional.
The astute lawyer argued that a Bill of this nature could only be tabled by the Executive arm of Government because there will be extensive duties and costs on the Ghana Police Service if the proposed law is effectively enforced which will be a charge on the Consolidated Fund.
He said the very provisions of the Bill stoke hate, bigotry and violence against a small and vulnerable minority community and therefore urged the Committee to reject the Bill in all its totality since it has no place in the Ghana’s constitutional Republic.
The representative of Ghana Pentecostal Council Abraham Ofori-Kuragu told the tense gathering the Bill reflected the will of most Ghanaians and opposition to it has been stoked by the West and added that he has never seen a Bill so bold in its presentation of the Ghanaian agenda.
All the other opponents of the Bill argued that the Bill violates virtually all the key fundamental freedoms and human rights guaranteed under the Constitution emphasizing that arbitrary arrests, blackmail and evictions have more than doubled since the introduction of the Bill in Parliament with people targeted if they are suspected of being gay.