I have not come across one NPP MP who wants LGBTQI+ legalized – Sheila Bartels

Member of Parliament for Ablekuma North, Penelope Sheila Bartels-Sam, has emphasized that contrary to some public perception, MPs from the ruling government do not support the legalization of LGBTQ+ activities in the country.

Eight MPs have placed before Parliament a bill dubbed “The Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill, 2021”, which seeks to criminalize Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ+) activities.

Among the list of MPs spearheading the passage of the bill, only one of out of the eight is from the ruling government.

Coupled with their silence on the proportional imbalance in the number, members from the Majority side in parliament are perceived to be silent on discussions around the subject causing some people to perceive the Majority as being against the bill.

But in a Facebook post sighted by GhanaWeb, the Ablekuma North MP emphasized that MPs from the New Patriotic Party bloc do not support the legalization of LGBTQ+ in the country.

She however pointed out the Majority’s position on the bill which is that the bill in its current state holds the potential to trample on the human rights of the LGBTQ+ community hence the need for further research and discussion on the subject in order to come up with a legislation that will stand the test of time.

“I have not come across ONE NPP MP who wants LGBTQI+ legalised. I have heard some MPs suggest that the draft bill in its state can potentially trample on some fundamental human rights as enshrined in the constitution. All I know is that we want to ensure that in the process of expanding the law to cover LGBTQI+, we create an airtight legislation that can stand the test of time. This takes lots of discussion, dialogue, research and effort. Not a one-day matter but we are committed to protecting our basic values as a country,” she wrote.

Background

When the parliament of Ghana reconvenes on October 26, 2021, one of the first things it will consider as part of its businesses is a bill that will unequivocally criminalize LGBTQ+ activities if passed.

The 38-page bill before parliament, among other things, stipulates that, people of the same sex who engage in sexual intercourse are “liable on summary conviction, to a fine of not less than seven hundred and fifty penalty units and not more than five thousand penalty units, or to a term of imprisonment of not less than three years and not more than five years or both.”

The bill targets persons who “hold out as a lesbian, a gay, a transgender, a transsexual, a queer, a pansexual, an ally, a non-binary or any other sexual or gender identity that is contrary to the binary categories of male and female.”

The bill also targets promoters and advocates of LGBTQ+ rights including “a person who, by use of media, technological platform, technological account or any other means, produces, procures, markets, broadcasts, disseminates, publishes or distributes a material for purposes of promoting an activity prohibited under the bill, or a person uses an electronic device, the Internet service, a film, or any other device capable of electronic storage or transmission to produce, procure, market, broadcast, disseminate, publishes or distribute a material for purposes of promoting an activity prohibited under the Bill” as well as a person who “promotes, supports sympathy for or a change of public opinion towards an act prohibited under the bill.”

As part of its provisions, the bill outlines that a flouter can be sentenced to a jail term of not less than six years or not more than ten years imprisonment.

At the back of the public support the bill has received, a group of academicians and other professionals have expressed their opposition to the bill.

According to the group of 18, the bill, Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill, when passed into law, would erode a raft of fundamental human rights, as enshrined in the 1992 Constitution.

Members of the group opposing the anti-gay bill include Mr Akoto Ampaw; author, scholar and former Director of the UN Economic Commission for Africa, Prof. Emerita Takyiwaa Manuh; a communications and media expert, Prof. Kwame Karikari; the Dean of the University of Ghana (Legon) School of Law, Prof. Raymond Atuguba, and the Dean of the University of Ghana School of Information and Communication Studies, Prof. Audrey Gadzekpo.

The Director of the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, Professor Dzodzi Tsikata; the Executive Director of the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), Professor H. Kwasi Prempeh, and a former Executive Director of CDD-Ghana, Prof. Kofi Gyimah-Boadi, are also members of the group.

Others are Dr Rose Mensah-Kutin, Dr Yao Graham, Mr Kwasi Adu Amankwah, Dr Kojo Asante, Mr Kingsley Ofei-Nkansah, Mr Akunu Dake, Mr Tetteh Hormeku-Ajie, Dr Charles Wereko-Brobby, Dr Joseph Asunka and Nana Ama Agyemang Asante.

 

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