Proponents and opponents of the Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill, 2021, yesterday came face-to-face at the first public hearing of the Constitutional, Legal, and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of Parliament to justify why the Bill should be passed or rejected by the House.
Since its introduction, the Bill which seeks to proscribe same-sex relationships has divided public opinion with persons against it, led by the now famous ’18 intelligentsia’, arguing that if passed, it would erode Ghana’s vaunted democratic credentials.
The Christian and Muslim Communities on the other hand have given their backing to what has now been christened the LGBTQI+ Bill arguing that if not checked, Ghana’s cultural values would be undermined.
The interest has led to the Committee receiving over 150 memoranda and per Parliamentary procedure, it is required to open up and hear all arguments before presenting its report to the plenary for consideration.
Doing a presentation on behalf of one of the opposing groups, Concerned Citizens Against the LGBTQI+ Bill, Akoto Ampaw said the Bill, if passed, would infringe on all fundamental human rights of Ghanaians and that Parliament should reject same.
“We are of the firm view and conviction that the provisions of the Bill violate almost all, if not all the provisions of the 1992 Constitution guaranteeing the fundamental rights of Ghanaians and all persons who reside in or come to Ghana.
“For this reason, the provisions of the Bill by virtue of Article 1(2) of the Constitution is to that extent void,” he argued.
According to Mr. Ampaw, by stigmatizing the LGBTQI+ activities as “inhuman, a taboo and alien to Ghanaian culture”, the Bill violates Article 12, 17 (1) and (2), 26 (2) and infringes on Article 21 (4)(e) for criminalizing anyone who holds out as an LGBTQI+ or a non-binary.
Other provisions of the constitution violated by the Bill, if passed in its current form, he said include Article 12(2) and 22(5).
In his view arguments by proponents that the Bill would protect Ghanaian values were unfounded because “extramarital relations, the impregnation of teenagers by irresponsible heterosexual men constitute a far greater threat to the family as a unit of society in Ghana”.
“In sum, the Bill is grossly unconstitutional. There is no legitimate justification for it to be passed into law. It is neither necessary to protect any legitimate public interest nor the rights of others. It is Incurably defective and we accordingly urge the Committee to reject it in the whole” he stressed.
For the Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council, the Bill is a bold attempt to consolidate and address the gaps in existing legislation, especially the Criminal and Other Offences Act to meet the demands of the shifting legal landscape and protect procreation.
“The Bill seeks to assert our self-assertion as a sovereign state and that we are not hooked to the apron strings of any other or we are not a puppet of any foreign power,” a spokesperson for the Council, Apostle Ofori Kuragu, said.
When passed, he said, the Bill would customize Ghana’s home-grown efforts to protect the country’s peculiar system.
“Ghana is Ghana and no nation can be like Ghana; so, if other nations feel that there are values that they wish to cherish protect we are Ghana and we feel that this is what makes us Ghanaians and this is what we want to cherish.
“We believe that after all these years in the post-independence walk, we have come of age to know what is good for us. So, we are not prepared to take anybody’s yardstick of how human rights is seen or known to be elsewhere as our yardstick,” he said.
BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI