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Ghana's Parliament Passes Controversial Anti-LGBTQ+ Bill Amidst International Outcry

Published February 29, 2024
3 months ago

In a move that has sparked international concern and drawn criticism from human rights activists, Ghana's parliament passed the highly divisive Anti-LGBTQ+ bill, aimed at criminalizing the identification with and advocacy for LGBTQ+ rights within the nation. After nearly three years of heated debate and public discourse, the bill triumphed in the legislative house, signifying a significant blow to LGBTQ+ rights in the West African country.


The regulations set forth by the new bill are stringent. Individuals found guilty of identifying as LGBTQ+ may face up to three years in prison, a stark penalty that has alarmed both local and international human rights observers. Furthermore, the bill introduces a maximum five-year incarceration for those who establish, operate, or support LGBTQ+ organizations—a measure threatening the existence and operation of support groups and human rights agencies seeking to provide assistance and community to LGBTQ+ Ghanaians.


The parliamentary session, held on Wednesday, culminated in the unanimous approval of the bill following the third reading. Demonstrating the depth of opposition among lawmakers to LGBTQ+ issues, attempts to consider more lenient penalties such as community service or counselling were met with vocal opposition, indicating a robust resistance to any form of LGBTQ+ activism or identification.


This legislative escalation comes amidst a growing sentiment against LGBTQ+ rights in Ghana, reflecting broader conservative attitudes in the region. Now, with parliament's approval, the bill awaits the next procedural step—presidential assent. President Akufo-Addo, who has previously stated that his decision would align with the will of the majority, is expected to weigh in for the bill to become a binding law.


The stark terms of the bill have been brought to light by both local activists and international watchdog groups, with Amnesty International condemning the proposal last month for its dire implications for the fundamental rights and freedoms of LGBTQ+ individuals. Activists have raised alarm bells over the potential for widespread human rights abuses, including witch-hunts targeting LGBTQ+ individuals and their allies, which would force many to seek refuge or flee, creating a climate of fear and repression.


The bill takes an even harder line against advocacy, proposing jail terms of up to 10 years for those involved in LGBTQ+ advocacy directed at minors. It further emboldens the general public to report suspected LGBTQ+ community members to the authorities, effectively incentivizing informants and potentially increasing instances of harassment and vigilantism.


The passage of this bill in Ghana resonates with broader questions of human rights, individual freedoms, and the role of international conventions in sovereign legislative processes. As it stands, the future remains uncertain for LGBTQ+ Ghanaians and their defenders amidst a legal landscape that now vastly errs against their existence and expression.


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