Anti-LGBTQ+ bill: Culprits, sympathisers could face 10-year jail term; social media reacts

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The simmering sentiments about LGBTQ+ activities in Ghana have crept back into the public discourse in light of some extreme sanctions which have come to the fore.

This time, it has to do with some strong reservations which have greeted a 36-page bill yet to be sent to Parliament for consideration in order to criminalise the act.

The Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill 2021 will see culprits face a jail term of up to ten years depending on the crime, if passed in its current state.

Individuals 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.”

This encompasses any person who “holds 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.”

Anti-LGBT+ legislators had earlier hinted at ongoing deliberations on a document to render the group’s promotion and advocacy illegal.

Ningo – Prampram legislator Sam George and 7 other members of parliament including the NPP’s John Ntim Fordjour drafted the bill which they are seeking to introduce in the house as a private member’s bill for the necessary approval.

On 29th June 2021, they symbolically submitted a copy of the draft bill to the speaker Alban Bagbin for his review at a meeting of the Parliamentary Christian Fellowship.

The Speaker is expected to create a window on the floor of the House to allow the MPs to formally move their private member’s bill soon.

But portions of the draft which hit the internet on Thursday has reignited a conversation about its nature and scope with many impugning potentially far-reaching human rights violations including that of allies.

It proposed that “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 commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a term of imprisonment of not less than five years and not more than ten years.”

The draft also suggests that persons who engage in activities that “promotes, supports sympathy for or a change of public opinion towards an act prohibited under the Bill” are liable on summary conviction to a term of imprisonment of not less than five years or not more than ten years.

The Bill is also proposing the disbandment of all LGBTQ+ groups, societies, associations, clubs, and organizations.

All groups in existence before the Bill came into existence and are intended to promote such activities are to be disbanded.

Persons who contravene this provision could face up to not less than six years or not more than ten years imprisonment.

But some 51,000 tweets generated since the issue went public, have relayed some thoughts on the matter.

Some social media users say the seeming antagonism against pro-LGBT activism, as indicated in the draft is unwarranted.

While some users support the development, many others also claim the vagueness and broad scope of infringement range per the bill gives wiggle room for its abuse.

Pro-LGBTQ+ groups have also expressed their displeasure about the bill.

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