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LGBT talks at Jubilee House …Speaker questions Akufo-Addo

Speaker of Ghana’s Parliament, Alban Bagbin, says he is disappointed about the content and implications of comments made by President Akufo-Addo as well as the visiting Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris, when the two responded to a question about the sticky subject of LGBT in Ghana during Monday’s joint press conference at the Jubilee House.

A New York Times journalist had asked about legislations about LGBT in Ghana and this was how Presient Akufo-Addo responded:

“First of all we don’t have any such legislation here in Ghana, a bill has been proposed to the Parliament of Ghana which has all kinds of ramifications which are now being considered by the parliament.

“It hasn’t been passed, so the statement that there is legislation in Ghana to that effect is not accurate. No legislation.

“The Bill is going through the Parliament, it’s going through the parliament, the Attorney General has found it necessary to speak to the committee about it regarding the constitutionality or otherwise of several of its provisions and the Parliament is dealing with it but at the end of the process, I will come in”, he said.

The President continued: “I have no doubt that the Parliament of Ghana will sure as it is done in the past, one first of all, its sensitivity to Human Rights issues as well as to the feelings of our population and we’ll come out of the responsible response to the to the proposed legislation.

“It’s a private member’s bill this is not an official legislation of the government but it is one that has been being mooted by a handful of private members, so we will see what the final outcome of it.

But my understanding from a recent discussion I had with the chairman of the committee is substantial elements of the bill have already been modified as a result of the intervention of the Attorney General, we will see what the final outcome will be…”, Nana Akufo-Addo added.

Kamala Harris on her part, did not directly address the issues about legislation but spoke generally about her belief in and for human rights issues:

“I feel very strongly about the importance of supporting freedom and supporting the fighting for equality among all people, and that all people be treated equally. I will also say that this is an issue that we consider, and I consider to be a human rights issue, and that will not change.”

“Let me be clear where we stand, you know a great deal of work in my career has been towards human rights issues, equality issues, as related to the LGBTQ community,” Kamala Harris noted.

The responses from the two have not gone down well with Speaker Bagbin who did not mince words during an interaction he had with some religious leaders on Tuesday on the state of the  Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill that  is currently before Parliament and could imprison LGBTQ individuals and their advocates when passed into law.

“The Bill will be passed. This is the word to His Excellency the Presient. There is no way he can intervene. That answer he gave that it (the Bill) is now before Parliament and when it gets to a stage where he has to, he would come in, hey, please. This is legislation. This is not execution. Wait until we pass it and then we direct you to execute it. That is when you will come in”, Speaker Bagbin noted.

He continued: “That is why we are representatives of the people. So in terms of law which is part of policy, we finalize it. And then the Executive now has the authority to implement it, to execute it.  Let’s get this cleared; once this Bill is before here, he (the President) is not in charge, I am in charge.  I hope the US Vice President is not yet gone. But she would read from me.”

Speak Bagbin  described the comments from Kamala Harris as “undemocratic”.

The Speaker added, “as the Vice President of the USA, Kamala Harris did yesterday, these things should not be tolerated, that is undemocratic. What is democracy? That someone should have to dictate to me what is good and what is bad? Unheard of, because we have decided to devalue ourselves and go begging? Come on, we have more than enough. God has created more than enough for every person, the Bill will be passed”.

Alban Bagbin told the Committee working on the Bill to remain steadfast and not fall for any form of intimidation: “Please let the report flow, we need to legislate. Our friends just passed their law in Uganda, we may not go the way they have gone, our Constitution is very clear as to the direction we should move and so we should be guided by that because if we pass any law against the Constitution, it is unconstitutional.”

Meanwhile, Member of Parliament for Ningo Prampram Samuel Nartey George has said that the report on the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill, popularly known as the Anti-Gay Bill will be laid before the House this week.

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