MPs pray against ‘gay spirit’ before submitting anti-LGBTQ bill

Ahead of the introduction of a bill that seeks to criminalise LGBTQ+ identification and advocacy in Ghana, some Members of Parliament (MPs) were seen praying, presumably for the passage of the bill.

The MPs are members of the Parliamentary Christian Fellowship, a group of lawmakers and other workers in Ghana’s parliament who are brought together by their faith.

Parliamentarians are looking to submit on June 29, a private member’s bill authored by Ningo-Prampram MP Sam George that seeks to among other things, provide punitive responses to sexual practice that falls within the LGBTQ+ spectrum.

Earlier in the year, George also explained that if it becomes law, the legal proposal will target and criminalise advocacy of LGBTQ+ interests in the Ghanaian public space. There could also be a provision for “corrective” healthcare for those the lawmakers consider sufferers of psychological and biological factors that propel identification with the LGBTQ+ spectrum.

Sections of the Ghanaian public have voiced support for the bill arguing that LGBTQ+ orientations fall foul of Ghanaian culture.

Leading calls have come from leaders of the clergy who have described LGBTQ+ orientation as spiritual malfeasance.

On Tuesday morning, the MP for South Dayi, Rockson-Nelson Etse Kwami Dafeamekpor, who was one of those who joined the prayer session, tweeted:

This morning, I joined my colleagues to present a Draft Bill on LGBTQI+ to the Speaker. We must be firm in our fight against the inordinate desire to convert a palpable medical & psychiatric condition of a sick few into a socio-culturally acceptable one in Ghana. We never must.

The sponsors of what has been called the Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill (2021) enjoys bipartisan support from parliamentarians from the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

Among the bill’s sponsors are Emmanuel Bedzrah (MP, Ho West); John Fordjuor (MP, Assin South); Della Sowah (MP, Kpando); Helen Ntoso (Krachi West) and Dafeamekpor (MP, South Dayi).

Meanwhile, the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, who is yet to respond to receiving the bill, disclosed last week that efforts are underway to stop all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) activities in the country.

According to the Speaker, as a matter of urgency, steps are being taken to streamline the law on such activities and make the country’s position on it definite.

He has indicated that the bill would see to such clarification.

Bagbin said this in a response to a letter from a political activist who had petitioned Parliament to amend Ghana’s laws to deal with the phenomenon in the country.

Anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments

It would be recalled that earlier this year, the police raided and closed down an office of a pro-LGBTQI+ group at Ashongman, a suburb of Accra.

The five-bedroom flat, which was housing the group, was opened on Sunday, January 31, 2021, with a fundraising ceremony.

This was attended by some diplomats including the Australian High Commissioner to Ghana, Ambassador Gregory Andrews and his partner Rachael.

The Danish Ambassador to Ghana, Tom Nørring and his wife, Bridgit, as well as officials of the European Union (EU) in Ghana, were also present.

This was quickly greeted with stiff opposition from anti-LGBQTI members of the general public who called on the government to resist any attempt by the group to lawfully identify with the LGBTQ+ spectrum in Ghana.

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