File photo: LGBTQI

A coalition of 18 Civil Society groups has threatened to head to the Supreme Court should President Nana Akufo-Addo assent to the Proper Sexual Rights and Family Values Bill, 2021.

The group has kicked against the bill also known as the anti LGBTQI+, arguing that it infringes on Ghana’s diverse cultural and religious landscape.

The anti-LGBTQ+ bill was unanimously passed by Parliament on February 28, after nearly three years of deliberation. The bill seeks to criminalise the activities of the LGBTQ+ community.

It imposes a prison sentence of up to three years for anyone convicted of identifying as LGBTQ+. It also imposes a maximum five-year jail term for forming or funding LGBTQ+ groups.

MPs frustrated attempts to replace prison sentences with community service and counselling.

Speaking to JoyNews, the Board Chair of the Ghana Center for Democratic Development CDD-Ghana, Professor Audrey Gadzekpo, said the groups will make presentations to President Akufo-Addo not to assent to the passage of the anti-LGBTQ+ bill.

She expressed disappointment that with all the opportunities Ghana had when the bill was proposed, Parliament did not see good reason to decide that such a bill did not fit into the country’s democracy.

“It’s an obnoxious bill. It’s kind of like criminal libel, which the colonialists introduced, and we retained it. And it was used improperly against people, including journalists. We will come to find that this is like that,” she said.

Prof. Gadzekpo hoped that a government characterised by sound judgment would assume power and repeal the bill.

Commenting on the next line of action for the coalition since Parliament has passed the bill, Prof Gadzekpo said the group will continue to pursue their advocacy and continue to repeat why the anti-LGBTQ+ bill is harmful to the country’s democracy and development.

She was optimistic that President Akufo-Addo would listen to their plight.

“So we will make representation to the president, not to assent to the bill. I personally believe that this bill’s proposal through enactment – even the argumentation has very little to do with wanting to safeguard Ghanaian family values because the present danger that endangers our family values were never addressed in this bill.

“This bill was just narrowly targeted at minorities because they know that a majority of people don’t agree with a sexuality that is not binary.

“But the fact that a majority of people don’t agree with a minority position doesn’t make the majority right. It’s such a fundamental principle of democracy. That is why there are so many provisions in democratic constitutions that protect minorities and minority views and rights, but unfortunately, it fell on deaf ears,” she stressed.