Ghana’s Legislative Body Votes to Outlaw LGBTQ+ Existences and Support

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Ghana’s Legislative Body Votes to Outlaw LGBTQ+ Existences and Support

Unanimous Parliamentary Approval

The legislative assembly in Ghana has collectively passed legislation aiming to heighten legal consequences for homosexual acts and target LGBTQ+ individuals along with their supporters. The legislation is now pending approval from President Nana Akufo-Addo, whose signature would enact it into law.

Escalation of Legal Consequences

This proposed legislation seeks to extend the current legal repercussions for homosexual acts from a three-year incarceration to a five-year term. Moreover, it criminalizes self-identification as LGBTQ+ or an ally and imposes penalties on those who offer assistance, advocate, or provide financial backing for the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals. The move to draft the legislation followed the inauguration of Ghana’s inaugural LGBTQ+ advocacy facility in its capital, Accra, in January 2021. Jurist, a legal news outlet, reported that the facility faced extensive backlash from various Ghanaian communities and was subsequently shut down following public demonstrations.

International Outcry

David Stacy, the Vice President of Government Affairs at Human Rights Campaign, expressed his dismay: “We are outraged to hear about the Ghanaian Parliament’s passage of the so-called ‘Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Act’ — a cruel bill that violates the fundamental rights of LGBTQI+ people and allies throughout Ghana.” He criticized every lawmaker who supported the legislation for abusing their authority and denying the inherent dignity of their constituents.

Personal Reflections from a British-Ghanaian Artist

In response to the bill’s approval, Campbell Addy, a British-Ghanaian artist, and a “30 Under 30” honoree by Forbes in 2021, shared his thoughts through a poem on X: “today ghana passed the bill making my existence as part of the LGBTQIA+ ‘illegal,’” expressing how the decision marks a regressive step. Despite this, he affirms his ongoing existence despite opposition from certain Ghanaians.

Historical Context and Cultural Misconceptions

Historical perspectives challenge the notion that homosexual identities are foreign to Ghana, introduced by Western cultures. Contrary to claims by contemporary Ghanaian politicians, evidence suggests that same-sex interactions have been part of Ghanaian society well before the modern era. Anthropological studies, such as those by James Christenson and findings by Ghanaian cultural researcher Dela Attipoe, indicate the presence of same-sex relationships and activities in Ghana since the 1950s and even during earlier tribal times, as documented in texts like The Dictionary of Homophobia.

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