Ghana’s new Anti-LGBTQ+ Legislation is cruel and aims to strip away the humanity of its people

by Kathryn Smith

WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, is deeply disturbed to hear of the Ghanaian Parliament's passage of an anti-LGBTQI+ bill in Ghana today. Despite a global move toward decriminalization, this bill would increase already existing penalties for same-sex sexual conduct, criminalize even identifying as LGBTQI+, and punish the promotion of LGBTQI+ rights. The legislation, if assented to by President Nana Akufo-Addo, would have a damaging impact on human rights across the country as it curbs civic space through censorship and bans on LGBTQI+ organizations.

We are outraged to hear about the Ghanaian Parliament’s passage of the so-called ‘Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Act’ – a cruel bill that violates the fundamental rights of LGBTQI+ people and allies throughout Ghana. Every single lawmaker who voted to pass this bill is wrongly using their power to strip away the basic humanity of the people they are supposed to represent.

“We stand with our partners in Ghana during this harrowing time, and we urge the Government of Ghana to reverse course on this bill that undermines human rights. We call on the international community to stand up for the rights of all LGBTQI+ people.”

David Stacy, Human Rights Campaign Vice President of Government Affairs

Consensual same-sex sexual activity has been illegal in Ghana since the 1860s, when the country was under British imperial rule, and is currently punishable by up to three years in prison. LGBTQI+ Ghanaians have faced increased levels of discrimination and fear over the past several years. In February, 2021, police raided and shut down a LGBTQ+ resource center. In May that same year, 21 LGBTQ+ activists were arrested during a human rights assembly in Ho, Ghana, and have not yet been released. LGBTQI+ people throughout the country have faced evictions and various other forms of systematic discrimination.

This bill is especially concerning since it follows the 2023 passage in Uganda of one of the most draconian anti-LGBTQ+ laws in the world, which includes a duty to report LGBTQI+ individuals, bans the “promotion of homosexuality,” and issues stiff penalties for same-sex sexual conduct, including the death penalty in certain cases.

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