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Ghana to jail those who commit or promote LGBTQ acts

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Ghana’s parliament has voted to pass a bill which will punish those who take part in LGBTQ sexual acts, as well as those who promote the rights of gay, lesbian or other non-conventional sexual or gender identities, with time in prison.

A coalition of religious and traditional leaders sponsored the legislation that is favoured by most lawmakers and passed in parliament on Wednesday.

Commonly referred to as the “Anti-Gay Bill,” it received sponsorship from a coalition comprising Christian, Muslim, and Ghanaian traditional leaders, finding substantial backing among members of Parliament.

Ghana is around 71% Christian and 20% Muslim.

The bill still has to be validated by the president before entering into law, which observers believe is unlikely before a general election in December.

But the legislation is widely supported in Ghana, where President Nana Akufo-Addo has said gay marriage will never be allowed while he is in power.

Gay sex is already illegal in the religious West African nation, but no one has ever been prosecuted under colonial-era laws.

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But now under the provisions of the bill, those who take part in LGBTQ sexual acts could face imprisonment ranging from six months to three years.

The bill also imposes a prison sentence of three to five years for the “wilful promotion, sponsorship, or support of LGBTQ+ activities.”

Opposition lawmaker Sam George, the main sponsor of the bill, called on Akufo-Addo to assent to it.

Speaking to reporters he said: “We want the President to walk his talk by appending his signature to the bill to enable it to come into force.”

He highlighted the unity among MPs during the legislative process, noting: “The overwhelming majority from both sides of the aisle have endorsed this bill.”

Ghana’s President, Nana Akufo-Addo. Editorial credit: Delali Adogla-Bessa /

Moving forward, Mr. Nartey George pledged collaboration between members of Parliament and the media to conduct extensive public education on the bill’s provisions and implications.

On the other hand, a human rights coalition known as the Big 18, an umbrella group of lawyers and activists in Ghana, condemned the bill.

“You cannot criminalise a person’s identity and that’s what the bill is doing and it’s absolutely wrong,” said Takyiwaa Manuh, a member of the coalition.

“We want to impress on the president not to assent to the bill, it totally violates the human rights of the LGBT community,” Manuh told the AFP news agency.

And the founder and director of the organisation LGBT+ Rights Ghana Alex Donkor said: “The passing of this bill will further marginalise and endanger LGBTQ individuals in Ghana.”

“It not only legalises discrimination but also fosters an environment of fear and persecution,” he said.

“With harsh penalties for both LGBTQ individuals and activists, this bill threatens the safety and wellbeing of an already vulnerable community.”

Ghana’s decision comes a year after Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed an Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law which means that anyone convicted of homosexual acts will face life imprisonment and some will face the death penalty.

The legislation imposed the death penalty for so-called aggravated cases, which include having gay sex with someone below the age of 18 or where someone is infected with a life-long illness including HIV.

It also stipulated a 20-year sentence for “promoting” homosexuality.

Ugandan authorities said the law is designed to protect the sanctity of the family.

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