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Don’t jail journalists over their opinions on LGBT

The New Publisher, in very clear and direct language, is opposed to the custodial sentence which the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights And Ghanaian Family Values Bill 2021, if passed into Law, would slap on journalists, publishers and media-house owners who are deemed to have expressed an editorial opinion that is pro-LGBT.

Such journalists risk being jailed for a period between six (6) to ten (10) years, if the said Bill is passed into law in its current form.

The New Publisher is of the firm opinion that no journalist or anyone for that matter should be thrown into prison over an expressed opinion on sexual preferences.

In the paper’s view, government has absolutely no business throwing journalists into jail simply because of their expressed opinions on LGBT.

There is no clearer way of demonstrating media censorship than to pass a law which seeks to throw journalists in jail over their expressed opinions on how two consenting adults decide to have sex behind closed doors.

Passing such a law would mean criminalizing free speech. That would be a rather draconian law which seeks to cause more harm than good and pretends to profess a solution to solve a non-existent problem.

It is satisfying that in Ghana, if anyone is made to engage in same sex intercourse without consent, there are existing laws to deal with that crime. If a minor is made to participate in any form of sexual intercourse with or without consent, there are existing laws to deal with that crime. If any form sexual intercourse is displayed in public, there are laws to deal with that crime.

These existing laws ordinarily should be potent enough but a handful of Parliamentarians are sponsoring a private members Bill to get new stricter laws specifically targeted at LGBT and its related activities.

It is becoming clearer by the day that there are some well-heeled foreign based Christian evangelicals fanning this flame. We do not begrudge them. The debate can continue. But certainly, it cannot and should not be a one-sided debate which seeks to criminalize all counter opinions. That is not democracy. That is dictatorship.

Marijuana, for instance, is a banned substance in Ghana yet many have openly called for its legalization and the debate has gone on for decades. That is democracy. Attempting to pass a law that would throw into jail, persons who call for the legalization of marijuana, would be absurd and an affront to free speech.

In the same logic, the newspaper considers it an absurdity to criminalize the publication of pro-LGBT opinions in the media. Pro-LGBT commentary is not treason.

The Bill has become a highly emotive subject characterized by a public stigmatization of persons who are either opposed to it or opposed to portions of it.
This may be an apparent explanation why many journalists and media owners, instead of raising an alarm in protest of the proposed custodial sentence portion, have opted to maintain zipped lips in self-preservation.

The New Publisher refuses to be cowed into silence at the threshold of the passage of a law that would gag journalists, curtail press freedoms and specifically criminalize pro-LGBT opinions published in the media. The newspaper strongly insist that Section 13 of the of the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights And Ghanaian Family Values Bill 2021, that recommends custodial sentence of pro-LGBT commentary be expunged.

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