LGBT+ Ghanaians should be hunted down and forced into conversion therapy, bigot tells MPs

Moses Foh-Amoaning (L) gestures as he addresses parliament

LGBT+ Ghanaians should be forced to undergo conversion therapy or else be jailed, a top government lobbyist has told the country’s parliament.

Moses Foh-Amoaning, a lawyer and general secretary of one of the country’s most high-decibel anti-LGBT+ groups, made the comments in Ghana’s parliament on Monday (6 December).

“Mad” LGBT+ people are suffering from “psychological problems”, he told parliamentarians scrutinising an anti-LGBT+ law that would legalise forced conversion therapy.

If the bill becomes a reality, activists warned PinkNews, it would undoubtedly create a climate of fear that will lead to a spike in LGBT+ people dying by suicide.

In a bumbling speech, Foh-Amoaning described how the bill offers a “process by which same-sex people are dealt with” if they refuse to pay to be “treated” by the state.

“If [a gay man] wants to have sex with someone who is not a lady, the law allows you to restrain him,” he explained.

“Such people who refuse to be helped should be put in jail.”

The Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill 2021, often called the Family Values Bill, has been touted by its architects as a way to shield so-called “traditional families” from LGBT+ people.

Turbulent public hearings began for the bill last month, with supporters and opponents at loggerheads over how – and if – it should be passed.

Among its biggest proponents is the National Coalition for Proper Human Sexual Rights and Family Values, a coalition of faith groups and leaders of which the bill is named after.

The coalition reportedly hosted a conversion therapy camp in 2018, claiming that some 400 people “voluntarily surrender themselves” to “undergo counselling”.

LGBT+ folk who refuse conversion therapy should be ‘restrained’, says lobbyist

Foh-Amoaning added that the Mental Health Authority, the government agency which regulates mental health care, allows for “mad” people to be “restrained”.

Rightify Ghana, one of the nation’s few LGBT+ campaign groups, told PinkNews the National Coalition has connections with the Mental Health Authority. Its chief psychiatrist, Dr Akwasi Osei, is a member and has previously called homosexuality “abnormal“.

“If the person refuses the sort of treatment [that] they have been offered then clearly he is one of the people who say: ‘I love it, I like it, I want to go ahead with it’,” Foh-Amoaning continued.

“But, in fact, the law allows the Mental Health Authority to restrain people [who refuse the so-called treatment],” he added, before calling LGBT+ folk “mad”.

“This person is not well, and the law gives them the power to restrain such people.”

It is understood that those detained under the law would be made to pay for conversion therapy themselves, according to the drafted law.

Moses Foh-Amoaning in a purple shirt and grey blazer talking to the camera

Moses Foh-Amoaning of the National Coalition for Proper Human Sexual Rights and Family Values. (Screen capture via Nabil Ahmed Rufai/Youtube)

Despite near-global condemnation, lawmakers have fiercely pursued a pitilessly anti-LGBT+ bill that would further criminalise being queer.

First introduced in March by a bloc of homophobic lawmakers, it would outlaw everything from anal sex to being an ally, with the latter punishable with up to 10 years in jail.

In Ghana, homosexuality is already illegal and anti-LGBT+ sentiment is common, spewed by lawmakers and religious leaders and codified by colonial-era laws.

Activists previously told PinkNews that since the bill’s introduction, anti-LGBT+ violence has rocketed.

Rightify Ghana believes that, if rubber-stamped by parliament, the Family Values Bill will mean queer Ghanaians and anyone “suspected” of being LGBT+ will be “hunted down”.

“If there is anyone who has not paid attention to the dangerous implications of Ghana’s anti-LGBTQ bill, if passed, the statements from the homophobic group, the National Coalition for Proper Human Sexual Rights and Family Values, should be a wake-up call to speak and act now,” the group said in a statement.

“Saying that they will ‘restrain’ LGBTQI persons clearly suggests how far they are willing to go to harm and torture LGBTQ persons who are not asking for what the homophobic Coalition refers to as ‘help’.

“As activists and members of the LGBTQI+ community, we find that statement wild, as it means they will be invading people’s privacy to hunt down people they suspect to be LGBTQI.”

The proposals, Rightify Ghana said, make mention of “approved medical treatments” offered by service providers approved by government ministries.

“Will those services be free? No,” the group said.

“So, to hunt down LGBTQ persons and force them to go and pay for such services or go to jail, will create a dangerous environment which may result in some LGBTQ persons committing suicide.”