Ghanaian MPs launch horrific bid to outlaw ‘advocacy for gay rights’ as president urged to end homophobic attacks

LGBT+ rights Ghana

Eight MPs in Ghana have launched a bid to criminalise the promotion of LGBT+ rights in a further blow to the country’s queer community.

There was widespread shock when LGBT+ Rights Ghana, an advocacy organisation, had its offices raided and shut down by national security forces in February.

Since then, Ghana’s anti-LGBT+ community has faced increased scrutiny as international outcry builds, with activists expressing fears for their safety.

On Monday (8 March), parliamentarian Samuel Nartey George announced on Facebook that he and seven other MPs will bring forward legislation in an effort to criminalise the promotion of LGBT+ rights.

George said government figures must “uphold our traditions, culture and religious beliefs” by fighting back against “the growing advocacy for homosexual rights in Ghana”.

“We have taken a stance and announced our intention to present a private members bill to expressly criminalise and ban the advocacy and act of homosexuality in all its current and future forms,” he said.

“The proposed bill would strengthen and augment existing legislation on the subject,” he added, referring to a law that remains in place that prohibits homosexuality.

“We owe it to ourselves and the people of Ghana to uphold that which gives us our identity as a people.”

George said he and his fellow MPs are aiming to get the legislation passed before the end of the current session of parliament on 31 March.

He concluded: “May we unite in this fight against the scourge and perversion that homosexuality presents. So help us God.”

President of Ghana accused of reinforcing ‘homophobic bigotry’

In a letter dated Monday (8 March), LGBT+ Rights Ghana – the organisation whose offices were shut down – pleaded with president Nana Akufo-Addo to give them “some peace” by helping them to feel safe.

The letter, signed by executive director Alex Kofi Donkor, branded state-endorsed homophobia as a type of “colonial residue” lingering from British rule.

LGBT+ Rights Ghana accused the president of reinforcing “homophobic bigotry” and urged him to take meaningful action to give queer people the rights they deserve.

“Mr President, our plea is not one that seeks to institutionalise same-sex civil unions. ours at this very point is to have some peace in our country and to feel safe. Ours is asking that the state protects us from harm, and that our sexual identities do not become weaponised as a tool of oppression in violating our rights as established under the constitution.”

Donkor added: “We ask that you remember your oath to serve all manner of persons, and to protect all persons under your charge.”

The situation in Ghana has gone from bad to worse for the LGBT+ community in recent months. Homosexuality was already illegal, but the opening of the country’s first ever LGBT+ centre at the end of January caused tensions to boil over, with religious groups and politicians lining up to attack the group for its advocacy work.

Amnesty International has condemned the persecution of the LGBT+ community in Ghana, and urged authorities to “immediately end discrimination” against queer people.

“Amnesty is calling on authorities in Ghana to publicly acknowledge the legitimacy and important work of human rights defenders, including LGBT+ rights defenders, who have the right to carry out their lawful activities without any discrimination or fear of reprisals – as stated in the 1998 UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders,” Amnesty said in a statement.