It is evidently clear that a majority of Ghanaians are opposed to a supposed attempt by some pro-LGBT persons to legalize same sex marriages in the country and this is demonstrated in the public support the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights And Ghanaian Family Values Bill 2021 has received nationwide.
Many believe that opposing 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.
The opposition to the supposed plan to legalize same-sex marriages is overwhelmingly popular to an extent that it was effectively used as a propaganda material against the New Patriotic Party (NPP) during the recent by-election in the Assin North Constituency.
It has become an emotive topic and persons who dare raise objection to the Bill risk being tagged as gays or lesbians. Indeed it has been an effective strategy of proponents of the Bill. Once that card is played, the substantive debate is set aside and what follows is self preservation and petty name callings.
Indeed many callers into radio and television talks shows, in registering their support for the Bill have boldly stated as though it were facts that the said Bill is being sponsored by some pro-LGBT advocates and foreign partners who intend to impose LGBT activities on the country and therefore it should be resisted with the same force and passion the people of the Gold Coast fought for political independence.
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.
Opposing the Bill in its current form also does not mean supporting same sex marriages or LGBT.
Blackmail & MPs Fear
It is worth to note that the position many Members of Parliament adopt outside the Chamber when discussing the Bill is not the same tone and attitude they show on the Floor on the same subject matter.
They are enveloped in the fear of swimming against the tide of public opinion in a country that is largely Christian dominated, followed by a huge Islamic community and both religions abhor same-sex intercourse.
No MP wants to be tagged as pro-LGBT in Ghana in this day and age. That would be politically incorrect and even suicidal to ones political fortunes. That is a sticky situation no MP wants to be.
Many MPs, outside the Chamber, would admit the Bill, in its current form has clear violations on Human Rights, press freedoms and targets a particular group of people.
Their difficulty has been how to communicate their exact reservations against portions of the Bill without the risk of sounding as pro-gay in a country that is largely anti-gay.
What has worsened their plight is the attitude of many media houses and how the Bill has been reported. The narrative has been wrongly presented as a debate between pro-gays and anti-gays and that is what has been fed to the public.
The narrative would have been different if the true and exact content of the Bill is what is being presented to the public and persons who oppose the Bill are not blackmailed into docility.
The New Publisher, for instance, has NEVER hidden its unrepentant opposition to aspects of the Bill which prescribes a jail term for journalists and owners of media houses over their EDITORIAL OPINIONS on LGBT persons and activities.
The paper has consistently maintained that such a law would amount to media censorship and an affront to press freedoms. Publishing an opinion on LGBT cannot and should not warrant a jail term for any journalist. At what point does the stated opinion of the media house become advocacy, education, entertainment or information dissemination and who has the discretion to determine that?
The paper’s position has been that it is unacceptable for any person to be FORCED or coerced into any form of sexual activity be it gay sex or heterosexual sex and culprits should be punished even if it means custodial sentencing. However, the paper cannot understand how two consenting adults should be jailed for the type of sex they decide to have behind closed doors in the privacy of their rooms.
Already, any form of sexual advertisement to child is a crime, be it gay sex or heterosexual sex. The laws on pedophilia are equally loud and clear.
The Bill also talks about owners of facilities or properties where LGBT persons operate and say such property owners would be thrown in jail. This aspect, the paper is against as well.
Per existing Ghanaian laws, a man cannot be legally married to a man. Legally accepted marriage is between consenting adults of opposite sex and there is no Bill in Parliament asking that this should change.
The Country Director for Amnesty International-Ghana, Genevieve Partington, is one of the several human right activists to have raised red flags against the Bill.
““There are so many things I can pull out from the law. I’m an ally, I’m identified as an ally, it also said from the Bill that, if you are an ally of LGBTQ community, that means you are living amongst people who have a different sexual orientation. I don’t see how that affects my life in any way. How does a man sleeping with a man within closed doors in their bedroom affect my life?” Genevieve Partington told Citi News
Meanwhile the Government of Ghana has maintained tight lips over the development although the country’s President is a Human Rights Lawyer.
As a person, the President has sent confusing signals on what his exact position is on the matter.
At one point, he said he would not legalize same sex marriages in Ghana. But the Bill in Parliament is not about whether or not to legalize sex marriages in Ghana.
The Bill specifically targets LGBT persons and seeks to create a new law to criminalize their activities, take away their freedoms of assembly, freedoms of expressions and to throw their allies into jail.
Perhaps, the silence from Government on the substantive matter is for fear of offending the clergy fraternity who are head over heels happy with the fact that the country is at the threshold of passing into law the anti-LGBT Bill.
Their happiness is motivated by the fact that their preaching books have prescribed LGBT as an evil tool of the devil to spread immorality to the world.