Ghana Passes Tough Bill Making Identifying as LGBTQIA+ Illegal

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WEST AFRICA. Ghana’s parliament has passed a tough new bill that imposes a prison sentence of up to three years for anyone convicted of identifying as LGBTQIA+, and a maximum five-year jail term for forming or funding LGBTQIA+ groups.
While passing the bill on February 28,2024, lawmakers heckled down attempts to replace prison sentences with community service and counseling, amid growing opposition to LGBTQIA+ rights in the conservative Ghana.
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The bill, which had the backing of Ghana’s two major political parties, will come into effect only if President Nana Akufo-Addo signs it into law.
He previously said that he would do so if the majority of Ghanaians want him to.
Gay sex is already against the law in Ghana – it carries a three-year prison sentence.
Last month, Amnesty International warned that the bill “poses significant threats to the fundamental rights and freedoms” of LGBTQIA+ people.
Activists fear there will now be witch-hunts against members of the LGBTQIA+ community and those who campaign for their rights, and say some will have to go into hiding.
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The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS-UNAIDS Executive Director, Winnie Byanyima said: “If Human Sexual rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill becomes a law, it will exacerbate fear and hatred, could incite violence against fellow Ghanaian citizens, and will negatively impact on free speech, freedom of movement and freedom of association.”

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS-UNAIDS Executive Director, Winnie Byanyima.

She added that it would “obstruct access to life-saving services” and “jeopardize Ghana’s development success”.
The bill proposes a jail term of up to 10 years for anyone involved in LGBTQIA+ advocacy campaigns aimed at children.
It also encourages the public to report members of the LGBTQIA+ community to authorities for “necessary action”.
Legislators said the bill was drafted in response to the opening of Ghana’s first LGBTQIA+ community centre in the capital, Accra, in January 2021.
Police shut the centre following public protests, and pressure from religious bodies and traditional leaders in the largely Christian nation.
At the time, the Christian Council of Ghana and the Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council said in a joint statement that being LGBTQIA+ was “alien to the Ghanaian culture and family value system and, as such, the citizens of this nation cannot accept it”.
The bill approved by lawmakers is a watered-down version of an earlier draft – for instance, jail terms have been shortened and a controversial clause on conversion therapy has been removed.
During the days-long debate, the deputy parliamentary leader of the governing party, Alexander Afenyo-Markin, suggested further changes.
He said lawmakers should decide, via a secret ballot, whether people convicted of being members of the LGBTQ+ community should be imprisoned by the courts or ordered to do community service and undergo counselling.
He was heckled into submission by lawmakers who supported prison.
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