Ghana parliament hears testimony on law curbing LGBTQ+ rights

The committee-level hearing of testimony for and against the draft law titled "Promotion of proper human sexual rights and Ghanaian family values" is the initial stage of debate over the bill.

FILE: Gay sex is already illegal in the deeply religious West African country, but the law would toughen sentences for same-sex relations and make LGBT+ advocacy a criminal offence. Picture: Stock.XCHNG

ACCRA - Ghana's parliament began hearing testimony on Thursday on a bill that will further curb gay rights in a proposal widely condemned by the international community.

The committee-level hearing of testimony for and against the draft law titled "Promotion of proper human sexual rights and Ghanaian family values" is the initial stage of debate over the bill.

Gay sex is already illegal in the deeply religious West African country, but the law would toughen sentences for same-sex relations and make LGBT+ advocacy a criminal offence.

The committee on constitutional, legal and parliamentary affairs is expected to hold public hearings on the bill for 15 weeks before debate begins in the house.

Apostle Abraham Ofori Kuragu of the Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council was among the first to testify on Thursday.

"LGBTQI+ activities pose a great threat to Ghanaian culture and values," he said.

"The bill seeks to protect children from the dangerous activities of LGBTQI+ community. The bill before us is a proper vehicle to integrate sound cultural values into our body politic."

While condemned by rights groups, the bill is widely supported in Ghana and by local church organisations which dismiss LGBTQ+ community as against Ghanaian culture.

"The bill violates virtually all the fundamental human rights of people. It stigmatises the LGBTQ+ community as inhuman," said Akoto Ampaw, who heads the Concerned Ghanaian Citizens group.

"This is not the republic that Ghanaians fought for," added the human rights lawyer who has served as the Ghanaian president's counsel.

Presented by opposition lawmakers, the draft law criminalises LGBT+ advocacy, requires that "suspects" be denounced, advocates for conversion therapy and imposes longer jail sentences.

President Nana Akufo-Addo faces a difficult decision over whether to veto or sign the bill as it is condemned overseas but widely supported at home.

Already the proposed law has caused a rift between Britain's Bishop of Canterbury and the former British colony's Anglican Church which strongly supports the bill.

More than half the countries in sub-Saharan Africa have laws against homosexuality, with some carrying the death penalty, although no executions are known to have been carried out in the modern era, according to Human Rights Watch.