Don’t make LGBT a criminal offence …Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Afenyo-Markin back Cardinal Turkson
The call for non-criminalization of homosexuality in Ghana made by His Eminence, Cardinal Peter Appiah Turkson has received the backing of both the President of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Most Rev. Matthew Gyamfi and the Deputy Majority Leader in Ghana’s Parliament, Alexander Afenyo-Markin.
“That has always been the stance of the Catholic Church that we should not criminalize homosexuality and homosexuals. It may be a moral issue but it does not rise to the level where homosexuals and lesbians and gays are considered criminals. That is the position of the Catholic Church and that has been the position of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference”, President of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Most Rev. Matthew Gyamfi has stated in an interview with TV3 to state whether or not the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference agreed with Cardinal Turkson.
Most Rev. Gyamfi was however categorical that the Catholic Bishops’ Conference does not want Ghana to legalize homosexuality as an accepted cultural practice.
He explained that homosexuality, at best, could be a purely moral issue and not a criminal one and once it is criminalized, it means LGBT persons would receive some punishment for something they do in the privacy of their bedrooms.
The President of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference, denied that the group had called for the criminalization of LGBT in Ghana.
“I am not aware of the statement that you are making but I do not think that any statement that the Catholic Bishops have been party to, we have said that homosexually should be criminalized; not in any statement that I recall that we have jointly made.
“What we are saying is that homosexuality should not be legalized. It should not be made a part and parcel of the culture of Ghanaians. We do not accept that, the Church does not accept that, Muslims do not accept that, Africans do not accept that. So it should not be legalized for it to become a norm as a part of our culture.
“That is different from saying it is a crime. That is different. To be a crime means it is punishable, you would be punished, put in prison; it would be on the same level with someone who has committed murder. It would be included in the list of crimes in Ghana. That is not what we are saying. We are saying that it should not be permitted it should not be legalized, it should not be allowed as one of the normal trends of behaviors in the country….there are other activities that are not accepted but we do not say that all things that are not allowed are crimes”, Most Rev. Gyamfi explained.
The Deputy Majority Leader in Ghana’s Parliament, Alexander Afenyo-Markin, on Tuesday was cornered along the corridors of the legislature by journalists on his views regarding the calls by Cardinal Turkson and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference.
Afenyo-Markin’s response was straight and direct: “The Catholic Church is saying it will be wrong to criminalize somebody’s sexual orientation and so be it. Personally, I don’t think that somebody claiming to be a lesbian or gay should go to jail, by virtue of that.”
He continued: “I am a Catholic and the position of the Catholic church is very clear, … and I don’t think that what the church has said I should hold a contrary view to it.
“The church says that by the culture of Africans, we are against same-sex marriage, but it is also against criminalizing somebody who has that sexual orientation. I am a Catholic, I don’t hold a contrary view to what the Catholic church is saying.”
The Anti LGBT Bill
A majority of Ghanaians have demonstrated support the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights And Ghanaian Family Values Bill 2021 also knows as the Anti-LGBT Bill ostensibly because may believe it is a way of resisting a supposed attempt by some pro-LGBT persons to legalize same sex marriages in the country.
Many believe that speaking against the said Bill amounts to supporting the so-called attempt to legalize same-sex marriages and LGBT in all its forms and shades: a strong public perception that has sparked emotions and sentiments.
However a read of the said Bill shows it has nothing to do with a pro-LGBT group pushing an agenda. It has nothing to do with any Member of Parliament or a political party proposing for a law to legalize same sex marriage or LGBT.
Strategically, the actual implications of the Bill, when passed into law is not being communicated to the public.
It is not true that there are some persons in Parliament who are seeking for a law to allow men to marry men in Ghana and therefore the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights And Ghanaian Family Values Bill 2021 is the cure to that attempt to make men marry men and women marry women.
The Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights And Ghanaian Family Values Bill 2021 seeks to criminalize. There is no Bill whatsoever or any attempt by and Member of Parliament to legalize LGBT.
Ghana already has laws to protect persons who do not want to be gays or lesbians. The laws to protect under aged persons is in full force and working well.
Even the media, has not bothered to fully discuss the implications of the Bill on press freedoms. The fact that speaking in support of a person’s sexual preference can get one thrown into jail if his Bill is passed into law is not been discussed.
The extremely hostile environment strategically put in place to target ANY person who dare speaks against the Bill has not helped for a balanced dialogue on the subject matter. It has been largely an emotive debate and tagging of persons who dare profess a counter opinion against the Bill.