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Ghana’s Government Passes Controversial anti-LGBTQ law

Ghana’s Parliament has passed a new bill that will impose prison sentences of up to three years for anyone who is convicted of identifying as part of the LGBTQ+ community. 

In addition, this bill will impose an imprisonment of up to five years for anyone who is found funding or forming LGBTQ+ groups. 

Gay sex is already illegal in Ghana, it carries a three-year imprisonment sentence. 

Lastly, this bill has proposed that anyone who is involved in advocating LGBTQ+ campaigns aimed at children should be sentenced to a jail term of up to 10 years. 

Attempts were made in parliament to replace prison sentences with community service and counselling. 

These bills are the latest sign of growing opposition to the LGBTQ+ community and their rights in Ghana. The bill has been able to garner the support of Ghana’s two major political parties. The bill will come into power only if President Nana Akufo-Addo signs it into law, however, he has previously stated that he would do so if the majority of Ghanaians wanted him to. 

This bill represents a wider shift in the community - one that has raised worry both domestically and internationally. Amnesty International has claimed that this bill will pose “significant threat to the fundamental rights and freedoms” of LGBTQ+ people. In addition, the head of UN agency that is currently tackling AIDS has emphasised that this bill would cause obstruction to “live-saving services” thereby jeopardising “Ghana’s development success.” 

Domestic activists have warned against, and fear, witch-hunts against members of the community. Capitalising on this homophobic sentiment present in the community, the bill encourages civilians to report members of the LGBTQ+ community to authorities so that they may take the “necessary action” required. 

MPs say that the bill was drafted in response to the opening of a LGBTQ+ community centre in Accra (Ghana’s capital city), the first of its kind. This centre opened in January 2021. There were public protests and pressure from religious bodies and traditional leaders against this institution, which resulted in police shutting it down.

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