Ghana’s Anglican Bishops Condemn Proposed Anti-LGBTQ+ Bill
Author: Alex Cooper
Ghana’s Anglican Church leaders have condemned the country’s proposed anti-LGBTQ+ bill and urged lawmakers to reconsider the new legislation that would toughen an already existing anti-LGBTQ+ law.
On Friday, the House of Bishops in Ghana issued a statement saying the draft Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill — which is currently before the country’s parliament — is “severe and must be reviewed.”
The statement read, “We agreed that, though human dignity is always dominant, LGBTQI+ activities are frowned upon by the Ghanaian ethnicity and therefore, traditions, values, cultural and social frameworks must not also only be regarded but, respected and appreciated,” The Church Times reports.
“Nevertheless, Ghanaian citizens must not use the bill as an avenue to assault persons with homosexual orientation but show love to them as the Church of Jesus Christ is called to demonstrate the love of God by protecting all vulnerable people and groups. Acts of harassment, intimidation and hostilities against LGBTQ+ people should be condemned,” the statement continued.
It also stated, “The criminalization of sections of the bill are severe and must be reviewed.”
The statement comes after Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said there should be more tolerance in the face of the proposed bill.
The draft bill proposes a five-year maximum prison sentence for those who are LGBTQ+. Those advocating for LGBTQ+ rights could be sentenced to up to 10 years.
Same-sex relations are already illegal in Ghana, with those found guilty facing up to three years in prison, according to the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Sentences given under the new law could be reduced, according to the foundation, if the person charged would request “treatment,” that is, so-called conversion therapy.
Ghanaian activists have accused the bill’s authors of working with the World Congress of Families, which is a U.S. organization that campaigns internationally against marriage equality and LGBTQ+ rights in general. It held a conference in Ghana’s capital, Accra, a couple of years ago.
Davis Mac-Iyalla, executive director of Interfaith Diversity Network of West Africa, an organization that represents queer believers, welcomed the church’s support, according to PinkNews.
“But we think the statement should have come earlier, rather than now,” he said. “Bishops in Ghana, many of them have not even met an LGBT+ person, so the statement is welcome.”
Mac-Iyalla said the statement was “a first step.”
“I want to see action. I want to see them match their words with action in protecting the dignity and human rights of all LGBT+ people and their allies,” he said.
“It is only human to sit down and read the entire bill and begin to understand how incredibly terrifying and dangerous it is,” rights group Rightify Ghana said in a statement to the outlet. The group said that the bishops should be more like Jesus, “who showed love but not hate.”
It added, “People can easily change their faith or church but — you can’t say the same for their sexual orientation.”
Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Alex Cooper