Ghana’s Parliament Passes Anti-Gay, LGBTQ Bill

Ghana’s parliament on Wednesday unanimously passed a controversial anti-homosexuality bill that has drawn international condemnation.

“After three long years, we have finally passed the Human Sexual Rights and Family Values Act,” said Sam George, one of the main sponsors of the bill on social media.

The bill, which was introduced in the parliament in 2021, not only criminalizes LGBTQ relationships, but also those who support LGBTQ rights.

African countries still widely criminalize same-sex activity, mostly because of colonial era laws. But a raft of recent bills and proposed laws across Africa have looked to clarify and, in some cases, strengthen those laws.

An investigation uncovered alleged links between a US nonprofit and the drafting of the homophobic laws. The group denied those links.

The bill in Ghana still needs to be signed off by the country’s president before it becomes law.

The United Nations human rights chief Volker Türk called parliament’s passing of the bill “profoundly disturbing” and urged the government not to sign it into law.

“The bill broadens the scope of criminal sanctions against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transexual and queer people – simply for being who they are – and threatens criminal penalties against perceived allies of LGBTQ+ people,” he said.

Responding to the passing of the bill, UNAIDS Executive Director Winnie Byanyima warned that if the bill did become a law it would “affect everyone” and hamper the country’s fight against HIV and AIDS.

“Approaches rooted in inclusion of all people have been crucial to Ghana’s progress in the HIV response,” Byanyima said in a statement.

“To achieve the goal of ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030, it is vital to ensure that everyone has equal access to essential services without fear, stigma or discrimination, and that providers of life-saving HIV prevention, testing, treatment and care services are supported in their work,” she said.

Byanyima warned if the bill becomes law, “it will negatively impact on free speech, freedom of movement and freedom of association” and “obstruct access to life-saving services, undercut social protection, and jeopardize Ghana’s development success.

“Evidence shows that punitive laws like this bill are a barrier to ending AIDS, and ultimately undermine everyone’s health.”