Ghana Parliament Begins Public Hearings on Anti-LGBT Law

Ghana’s parliament on Thursday will hold its first public hearing on a new law that would make it illegal to be gay or to advocate for gay rights.

The ‘family values bill’ is currently before the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, which said it had received more than 150 memoranda from individuals, groups and faith-based organizations on the bill.

According to the deputy majority leader, Alexander Afenyo-Markin, he said the committee is expected to hear 10 petitions each week in a series of public sessions before the bill is put to a vote.

Gay sex is already punishable by prison time in Ghana, but no one has been prosecuted in years. The new bill would go much further, criminalising the promotion and funding of LGBT+ activities as well as public displays of affection, cross-dressing and more.

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Ghana’s speaker of parliament, Alban Bagbin, pledged in his opening address last month that parliament would pass the bill into law at the earliest possible time.

U.N. human rights experts have urged lawmakers to reject it, saying it would establish a system of state-sponsored discrimination and violence against sexual minorities.

LGBT rights groups in Ghana said they have seen a spike in homophobic attacks since the draft law was introduced in August.

Director of Rightify in Ghana, Danny Bediako says arbitrary arrests, blackmail and evictions have more than doubled since, with people targeted if they are suspected of being gay.

The bill has been promoted by conservative Christian groups in Ghana, which has become a hot spot for the debate on LGBT+ rights in Africa.

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The United States-based World Congress of Families (WCF), a group that works to advance anti-gay laws and policies around the world, held a major regional conference in Ghana’s capital Accra in 2019.

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