Anti-gay bill: Ghana can survive without foreign aid – Economist

An economist, Professor Charles Godfred Ackah, has warned that the anti-gay bill in parliament may have dire consequences on foreign aid but optimistic that Ghana can withstand the shocks.

Notwithstanding the adverse impact, the economist said Ghana has enough resources to survive without foreign aid.

“There are fears that the West may hit Ghana with all sorts of sanctions should it pass into law the bill criminalizing homosexuality, but the nation should not be perturbed since it is blessed with enough human and natural resources to ensure survival,” he said.

The anti-gay bill seeks to criminalize homosexual and queer relationships. The bill has divided public opinion with different groups justifying their stance.

According to Prof Ackah, the legalization of same-sex relationships “comes with a cost; the health cost alone is dire. We don’t even have enough budget to fight HIV/AIDS. This is going to increase HIV aids. There is going to be public health challenge. We are not comprehensively insured.”

“When they want to do surgery or when they want to do hormone transfer, it’s paid for by the state. We don’t have that kind of thing here. 70% of all people who have AIDS in the US came from men marrying men or having sex with men,” Prof Ackah stressed on Joy FM’s Newsfile.

Background

The anti-gay bill, which was first read in parliament on August 2, 2021, is spearheaded by eight legislators: MP for Ningo-Prampram Sam George, Ho West MP Emmanuel Bedzrah, MP for Kpando Della Adjoa Sowah, and John Ntim Fordjour, the MP for Assin South.

Discussions about LGBTQ+ rights in Ghana touch on sensitive chords: culture and religion. Crusaders behind the bill base their arguments on the belief that LGBTQI+ activities are alien to the country’s cultural norms and values and are also frowned upon by all major religious groups in Ghana.

The Christian Council of Ghana – an umbrella body of Christian churches in Ghana – has declared its support to the bill. “The council wishes to state unequivocally that it supports the bill and prays that it will see the light today… Let us protect the good family system that we have inherited from our forebears,” it said in an official statement.

The Office of the National Chief Imam also supports the bill stating, “homosexuality is a deviant behaviour totally unacceptable in Islam. Although our religion allows us the latitude to ponder and reconsider some issues, homosexuality is certainly not one of them”.

The bill seeks to criminalize LGBTQI+ advocacy and its practice for at least five years.

However, an 18-member group campaigning against the bill’s passage argues that “the bill violates all the fundamental freedoms guaranteed by the 1992 Constitution”, adding that when passed into law, it would send Ghana to the dark ages of lawlessness.

“The bill violates virtually all the key fundamental freedoms guaranteed under the constitution, namely the right to freedom of speech and expression, the right to assemble, freedom of association and the right to organize, the right to freedom from discrimination and the right to human dignity,” leader of the group, Lawyer Akoto Ampaw said at a press conference on Monday (October 4).

Other members of the 18 member group are Professor Emerita Takyiwaaa Manuh, Communication Specialist, Professor Kwame Karikari, Professor Kofi Gyimah-Boadi, Professor Audrey Gadzekpo of the Department of Communication Studies, and Dean of the School of Information and Communication Studies, University of Ghana, Dr Rose Mensah-Kutin, Dr Yao Graham, Professor Dzodzi Tsikata and Professor H. Kwasi Prempeh of Centre of Democratic Development (CDD).

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