From the blog

GHANA: Parliament Passes Strict Anti-LGBTQ Law

Ghana’s parliament passed a tough legislation on Wednesday that imposes a prison sentence of up to three years for anyone convicted of identifying as LGBTQ+ and a maximum five-year jail term for forming or funding LGBTQ+ groups.

Lawmakers heckled down attempts to replace prison sentences with community service and counselling.

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. The president had previously said that he would do so if majority of Ghanaians want him to.

Gay sex is already against the law in Ghana – it carries a three-year prison sentence.

Opposition to the new bill including United States Ambassador to Ghana, Virginia Evelyn Palmer, Amnesty International who warned that the bill “poses significant threats to the fundamental rights and freedoms” of LGBTQ+ people.

They all feared the law will only drive members of the LGBTQ+ community and those who campaign for their rights to go into hiding.

This was echoed by the head of the UN body tackling Aids, Winnie Byanyima, who 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.”

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 LGBTQ+ advocacy campaigns aimed at children and encourages the public to report members of the LGBTQ+ community to authorities for “necessary action”.

MPs said the bill was drafted in response to the opening of Ghana’s first LGBTQ+ 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.

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.