‘The worst anti-LGBTQ bill ever’

The “most homophobic document the world has ever seen” is how LGBTQ rights activists describe Ghana’s sweeping anti-homosexuality bill recently revealed after months of discussion and publicity from the nation’s anti-gay crusaders.

Legislators presented the “Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill” to Parliament Speaker Alban Bagbin in June 2021. (Photo courtesy of Twitter)

The members of Ghana’s anti-gay National Coalition for Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values hope to see it enacted by the end of this year. The bill comes after months of increasing repression of LGBTQ people in Ghana, including the raid on a newly opened LGBTQ center in February and the arrest of 21 people at an LGBTQ rights training session in May.

The LGBTQ rights group Rightify Ghana described and commented on the bill in a lengthy Twitter thread.

The hashtag “#ReleaseAllThe21” appealed for freedom of 21 people arrested in Ho, Ghana, in May for attending a human rights training session.

Widespread repression

The bill would apply to a broad range of people — in the words of the bill, “LGBTTQQIAAP+ persons”, which includes more than lesbians, gays, bisexuals, “transgender” and “transsexual” people, and queers.

It also would criminalize allies, pansexuals, a “person of any other sociocultural notion of sex or sexual relationship that is contrary to the sociocultural notions of male and female or the relationship between males and females” and people questioning their sexuality.

It also would criminalize people “involved in the promotion of, propagation of, advocacy for, support or funding of LGBTTQQIAAP+” and any person “who provides or participates in the provision of sex or gender reassignment, surgical procedure or any other procedure intended to create a sexual category other than the sexual category of a person assigned at birth except where the procedure is intended to correct a biological anomaly including intersex”.

It would outlaw oral sex for both heterosexual and homosexual couples, as well as anal sex and use of sex toys.

Proposed punishments

Those acts would be defined as felonies subject to a sentence of three to five years in prison.

That punishment would apply not just to activities but also to people who are (in the words of the bill, “holds out as”) LGBTQ, an ally or non-binary.

“Public show of amorous relations” between people of the same sex would be a misdemeanor, punishable by a prison sentence of six months to one year, as would cross-dressing with intent to engage in sex.

The location of Ghana in West Africa.

Participants in same-sex weddings would be subject to prison terms of one to three years.

People advocating LGBTQ rights in person or through the media — seeking “a change of public opinion towards an act prohibited under this Act” — would be sentenced to five to 10 years in prison, as would people providing them with financial assistance.

“Homophobes in Ghana always make the claim that LGBTQ persons are actively recruiting persons to be LGBTQI. As a result, these sections will criminalize such activities. For example, you talking to someone or holding a meeting could be considered as such,” Rightify Ghana stated.

The bill would amend Ghana’s extradition law so LGBT Ghanaians seeking asylum abroad could be extradited back to Ghana for prosecution.

Residents required to become police informers

The bill would require Ghana residents to report LGBTQ rights advocacy or homosexual activity to police, political leader or “opinion leader”. Specifically: “A person in whose presence an offence is committed under this Act shall report the commission of the offence to a police officer, or in the absence of a police officer to a political leader, opinion leader or the customary authorities of the community in which the offence is committed.”

Conversion therapy

The bill would promote the harmful and ineffective practice known as “conversion therapy”, which attempts to turn LGBT people straight. “LGBTQ persons may be coaxed to accept such harmful activity without knowledge on its dangers,” Rightify Ghana stated. The bill mentions conversion therapy only for “questioning” and intersex people, Rightify Ghana believes it would be applied to all LGBTQ persons.

The Ministry of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs would regulate conversion therapy service providers.

Anti-LGBT violence

The bill’s sponsors “attempt to present a section that prohibits abuse and violence against accused LGBT persons. As if they care about people,” Rightify Ghana commented.

Specifically, the bill would make it a misdemeanor to “verbally or physically” abuse, assault or harass “a person accused of an offence under this Act; or suffering from any gender or sexual identity challenge including LGBTTQQIAAP+ or any other variant of a sexual identity challenge.” Such abuse would be a misdemenor punishable by six month to three years in prison.

Foreign influence

LGBTQ rights advocates believe that the language of the bill was drafted by anti-gay crusaders abroad.

“It is clear that this an imported bill with a signature of World Congress of Families (WCF),” Rightify Ghana stated. “It is a combination of bills from Russia, Uganda, Nigeria and other places where the WCF have been.

“It’s the worst anti-LGBTQ bill ever.”

The full text of the “Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill” is here. The bill extends from Pages 25 to 49 of that document after a 24-page introduction by the bill’s sponsors. The document was compressed for uploading, which introduced some formatting errors.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

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