Ghana parliament passes tough new anti-gay law

Ghana parliament passes tough new anti-gay law
In 2021, Ghanaians residing in New York participated in a protest against a controversial bill in the Ghanaian parliament, which proposes criminalizing the identification as LGBTQ+ or as an ally, carrying a potential penalty of up to 5 years in prison.

Accra, Ghana | By Michael Wandati | On Wednesday 28, February 2024, Ghana’s parliament approved legislation that strengthens measures against the rights of LGBTQI+ individuals and those advocating for non-conventional sexual or gender identities in the West African nation.

Prior to this, engaging in gay sex could lead to a maximum prison sentence of three years. The newly passed bill extends this penalty to up to five years for the “willful promotion, sponsorship, or support of LGBTQI+ activities.”

This legislation stands out as one of the most stringent of its kind on the African continent.

“My heart is broken and devastated at the moment, that’s all I can say for now,” Angel Maxine, Ghana’s first openly transgender musician and LGBTQI+ activist, told this publication, adding “My pronouns are she/ her/ hers.”

The legislation was endorsed by a coalition of Christian, Muslim, and Ghanaian traditional leaders. After receiving parliamentary approval, the bill is set to be submitted to President Nana Akufo-Addo, who, in accordance with Ghana’s constitution, has a seven-day window to either assent to or reject the legislation.

Should the President give his assent, the bill will be enacted into law. Akufo-Addo, who refrained from participating in the contentious discussions surrounding the bill, expressed his intention to respond once the parliamentary vote has taken place.

Winnie Byanyima, the Executive Director of UNAIDS (United Nations AIDS agency), expressed concern in a statement regarding the potential impact of the bill. Byanyima emphasized that if the legislation were to become law, it would have repercussions for everyone.

Also Read: US to impose visa restrictions on Ugandans supporting anti-gay law

She stated that punitive laws, as outlined in the bill, serve as barriers to the goal of ending AIDS and, ultimately, compromise the health of the entire population.

“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,” Byanyima said in the statement.

“If it becomes law, it will obstruct access to life-saving services, undercut social protection, and jeopardize Ghana’s development success,” she added.