The Parliament of Ghana passed an extreme anti-gay bill on Wednesday, which is set to tighten laws against members of the LGBTQ+ community. Ghana’s 275 members of Parliament unanimously passed the bill, known as the 2021 Promotion of Appropriate Sexual Rights and Family Values Bill.
The bill is set to criminalize the promotion, advocacy, funding and acts of homosexuality. It stiffens prison terms up to ten years in prison for LGBTQ+ advocates and three years for anyone identifying as such. Moreover, the bill seeks to withdraw health services from this community, including HIV medication.
The bill’s main sponsor, legislator Sam Nartey George, said, “[H]omosexuality is not a human right in Ghana, but a lifestyle choice. A sexual preference.” With this reasoning, legislators viewed preferences as not absolute, meaning they did not hesitate to pass a bill against it. Furthermore, George warned the US not to interfere with plans to pass the bill into law, threatening to halt Ghana’s business interests in the country. He said this in reference to the travel restrictions imposed upon Uganda following the signing of their own anti-LGBTQ+ law.
Speaker of Parliament Alban Bagbin, stated LGBTQ+ practices are strongly abhorred and will not be allowed to take root in the country. He said:
I am very clear in my mind that the Parliament of Ghana will pass this Bill (to criminalize LGBTQ). I have gone through it and I will confirm that the Bill will be a reference point for many countries. It has gone through all the provisions of the constitution, laws and international obligations.
Rightify Ghana, a human rights organization in Ghana, believes that the passing of this bill erodes progress towards fighting HIV and AIDS. Additionally, they quoted a 2021 statement from the UN anti-AIDS program, UNAIDS, that viewed this bill as undermining the basic rights of the LGBTQ+ community. The statement warned of the potential for international law violations if the bill passed, and stated, “Given that LGBTI people are present in every family and every community it is not very difficult to imagine how, if it were to be adopted, this legislation could create a recipe for conflict and violence.”