The Archbishop of Canterbury and the President of Ghana on Tuesday tiptoed around the issue of the extreme anti-gay bill currently awaiting action in Ghana’s parliament.
Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury (left), meets with Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana (right). (Neil Turner photo courtesy of the ArchbishopOfCanterbury.org)
That bill, which would make it illegal to be homosexual or to advocate for LGBTQ rights, has been termed “the worst anti-gay bill ever”.
On Tuesday, as earlier, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo expressed no clear position on the bill.
Essentially, he proposed that Parliament should undertake the impossible task of striking a balance between throwing all LGBTQ people in prison, as the bill’s sponsors propose, and respecting LGBTQ people’s human rights.
He added, “I will have my say at the end of the day.”
Archbishop Justin Welby, the spiritual leader of the 85-million-member Anglican Communion, was in Ghana for an international church meeting at the University of Ghana.
Although Welby recently took part in a press briefing at which he and Roman Catholic Pope Francis spoke against laws that criminalize homosexuality., he made no such remarks in Ghana.
According to accounts of Welby’s meeting with Akufo-Addo, Welby merely said about the human rights of LGBTQ people, “I know it is a very hot topic in Ghana and I will go nowhere near telling you what to do.”
He noted that issues of LGBTQ rights are the subject of “deep disagreements within the Church of England and around the Communion.”
LGBTQ people are “people for whom Jesus Christ died,” Welby said. His only recommendation was to say that “the Church [should] find ways to enable every person to meet with Christ.”
Similarly, Akufo-Addo only spoke in general terms about the controversial anti-gay bill, stating that he hoped Parliament would take into strike a balance between Ghanaian people’s attitudes about homosexuality and “the humanity of the people involved”.
LGBTQI+ law must consider culture, interest of humanity – President
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has expressed the hope that the Human Sexuality and Identity Bill before Parliament will take into consideration the culture and the societal attitude of the people, as well as the humanity of the people involved.
“The consequences, hopefully, will be those that will recognise the culture and the societal attitude of the people and at the same time recognise the humanity of all people involved. Hopefully, the law that will be fashioned will enable this balance to be carefully struck,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo said this when the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Justin Portal Welby, and the leadership of the global Anglican Communion paid a courtesy call on him at the Jubilee House in Accra yesterday.
The Most Rev. Welby, who is the spiritual leader of the Anglican Church and attending the 18th Consultative Council Meeting of 165 countries, said one of the issues that the meeting had been discussing was human sexuality and identity.
He said it was a difficult issue because there were no clear views on it around the world, and that it was an area in which many countries tried to enforce their views on others, adding: “But when we talk of human sexuality, we are dealing with people.”
President Akufo-Addo explained that the issue of human sexuality and identity was also a hot and widely discussed issue here in the country, to the extent that it had even produced a Private Member’s Bill, the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill, 2021, which Parliament was grappling with.
“Parliament is in full grip of it and I will have my say at the end of the day,” he said. …
The Archbishop of Canterbury presented the President, who is also an Anglican, with a table top golden Crucifix. …[Welby] said what the Anglican Communion believed in was that when human sexuality issues were raised, it was about dealing with human beings and those were people Christ died for, like all human beings.
“Therefore, we seek to find a way forward in which every human being, regardless of any other factors, may know that he or she is loved by Jesus Christ and has an opportunity to find the salvation which comes from Christ,” he added.
The Most Rev. Welby said that was the position of the Anglican Church and many other churches.
“There are many views among the communion and every international church is struggling with it. I know it is a very hot topic in Ghana and I will go nowhere near telling you what to do,” he added.
The 18-member Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of Parliament, on Thursday, November 11, 2021, held its first public hearing on a Private Member’s Bill that would make it illegal to be gay or advocate gay rights.
The Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill, 2021, which was introduced to the House in July 2021, underwent its First Reading on Monday, August 2, 2021.
The proposed legislation, which aims to provide for proper human sexual rights and Ghanaian family values, seeks to restrict LGBTQ+ communities and any activities related to them.
The new bill seeks to further criminalise the promotion and funding of LGBTQ+ activities, as well as the public display of affection, cross-dressing and more, while campaigning for LGBTQ+ persons on social media or online platforms is also prohibited under the bill.
It further seeks to provide for the protection of and support for children, persons who are victims or accused of LBBTTQQIAAP+ and related activities and other persons and related matters, while people advocating the rights of such sexual minorities will also be penalised.
Proponents of the bill want the promotion, advocacy, funding and acts of homosexuality to be criminalised in the country, saying it is a world-class piece of legislation which should be a reference material for other parliaments seeking to pass similar legislation.
The memorandum accompanying the bill said the object of the bill was to provide for proper human sexual rights and Ghanaian family values, proscribe LGBTQ+ and related activities, propaganda of, advocacy for or promotion of LGBTTQQIAAP+ and related activities.