France Ambassador To Ghana Apologises For Hosting Sam George
France’s Ambassador to Ghana Anne Sophie Ave has offered an apology to members of the LGBTQ+ community in the country after she hosted the Member of Parliament (MP) for Ningo-Prampram, Sam Nartey George, on a TV show meant to promote her country’s interests.
The show, Touch of France, often invites guests with social capital. Actors, journalists, bloggers and politicians have all been featured on Touch of France in conversations bordering on Ghana and France’s relationship, among other connected topics.
On Friday, August 6, Ambassador Ave shared a few photos to her Twitter account announcing she had hosted the Ningo-Prampram MP on the show. But this prompted a backlash in the evening, with some in Ghana’s queer community wondering why the ambassador would host an anti-LGBTQ campaigner.
The challenge to Ave drew her into a number of Twitter spats with LGBTQ activists. Some of those spats included very harsh language from a number of activists.
However, a majority of the activists who confronted the ambassador wondered how she would host the most vocal anti-LGBTQ politician in the country when France has recently taken Ghana off the list of countries safe for queer people.
The ambassador was thus accused of platforming and offering moral support to a public personality invested in violence against a marginalised group of people.
One tweeter posted: “By hosting that man, she is taking a public position while claiming that as an ambassador, she does not take public positions. A lie”.
But Ambassador Ave insisted on August 6 that the invitation to George was never about giving tacit support for the MP’s anti-LGBTQ campaign. She also accused the activists of failing to realise that dialogues with those they disagree with are what should be done in these matters.
“No, it is not support [for Sam George]. It is democracy,” Ambassador Ave tweeted at a point in the back and forth with the activists.
“I am a diplomat. Fight intolerance with dialogue not hate or blacklisting,” she added.
Some of these tweets, including the ones celebrating her engagement with George, have since been deleted by the diplomat’s account although The Ghana Report possesses screenshots. We can also confirm that some of the activists who took issue with her were blocked by the diplomat’s account.
On his part, the Ningo-Prampram MP tweeted on Saturday, August 7:
I am shocked at the hate and vitriol aimed at the French Ambassador for hosting me yesterday by the alphabet people. How ironic! They are the most intolerant bunch I ever met. If you have an issue, take me on and stop looking for easy targets. Shame on those involved.🦁😡
— Sam 'Dzata' George (@samgeorgegh) August 6, 2021
Ambassador Ave was not only challenged by Ghanaian LGBTQ activists. Others, including French politician Jean-Luc Romero, and pro-LGBTQ Africans also confronted her on hosting George.
But the ambassador has now apologised, tweeting: “The French embassy in Ghana and Touchoffrance.gh promote France and the actions of France in Ghana. Our guests are ppl with an experience of France, and of FR Ghana relations, to share.”
She added in another post on August 9: “Hosting MP S George was based on these sole criteria. I understand this has created a perception that we offered a platform to anti-LGBTQIA+ ideas: this is not the case at all. However, some people have felt offended and I wish to apologise for that.”
Hosting MP S George was based on these sole criteria.
I understand this has created a perception that we offered a platform to anti-LGBTQIA+ ideas: this is not the case at all.
However, some people have felt offended and I wish to apologise for that.
— Anne Sophie Avé (@annesophieave) August 9, 2021
Sam George and the anti-LGBTQ campaign
An anti-LGBTQ bill that seeks to punish among other things, identifying with the spectrum as well advocacy on behalf of the queer community, was be laid before Parliament for first reading on August 2 and has since been referred to a committee by the Speaker.
The Proper Human Sexual and Ghanaian Family Values Bill (2021) is a legislative proposal drafted by the Member of Parliament (MP) for Ningo-Prampram.
The bill is also one of the first since Ghanaian MPs approved a bill that would allow individual legislators to propose bills instead of the house simply deliberating on proposals sent in by the executive arm of government.
Along with George, the MPs for Kpando (Della Adjoa Sowah); Ho West (Emmanuel Bedzrah); Assin South (John Ntim Fordjour); Tamale North (Alhassan Suhuyini) and La Dadekotopon (Rita Sowah) are named as sponsors.
The rest are MP for South Dayi, Rockson-Nelson Dafeamekpor and MP for Krachi West, Helen Adwoa Ntoso.
Only one of the MPs belongs to the ruling New Patriotic Party while the rest are from the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC).
The bill criminalises identifying as a queer person as well as having homosexual sex. These are punished with jail terms.
Individuals who advocate on behalf of LGBTQ persons too could face up to 10 years in prison.