Mangortey: Passing anti-LGBTQI Bill will be suicidal


    Owula Mangortey wants the government and religious bodies to find solutions to the menace of LGBTQI rather than condemning gay people

    Owula Mangortey, a traditionalist, has kicked against the proposed Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill 2021, which is before Parliament for consideration.

    He wants the government and religious bodies to find solutions to the menace of LGBTQI rather than condemning gay people’s activities.

    “I have adult sons, you are aware,” said the political and social commentator, speaking on The Asaase Breakfast Show on Friday (8 October). “What will I do when I wake up one day and then my adult son is gay?

    “I hate any form of criminalisation of speech. I am against anybody saying, ‘Behave in this way or behave in that way’ … Don’t criminalise it. Let people have the right to associate,” he said.

    Mangortey added: “We have traditional ways of resolving this matter … I am against anything that will criminalise gays.

    “Gay people are our brothers. The Church of Pentecost and all the churches that have branches in the country, if they identify that these are sinners, there is a way to preach to them, there is a way to deal with them.”

    The bill “is problematic”
    Meanwhile, Mahama Ayariga, a member of Parliament’s constitutional, legal and parliamentary affairs committee, has said that the Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill 2021 needs to be looked at again because “there are a number of issues” with it.

    This comes after a group of 18 prominent Ghanaian citizens rejected the bill, saying it constitutes an “impermissible invasion of the inviolability and human dignity” of the LGBTQI community.

    Ayariga, who called in to The Asaase Breakfast Show on Thursday (7 October) to express his views on the topic, said portions of the anti-gay bill should be revised.

    “Definitely there are a number of issues that need to be flagged: academic freedom, the professors have raised it,” the MP for Bawku Central said.

    Ayariga added: “It is so fundamental that our constitution has gone out of its way to guarantee the set-up for academic freedom, and that is one issue that we need to respond to and respond to properly as a committee.

    “People have [also] raised rights to health care and how a bill like that will go a long way to undermine access to health care by people in the gay and lesbian community.”

    Sponsors of bill
    The bill was initiated by eight MPs, seven of whom are from the National Democratic Congress (NDC), with one being a New Patriotic Party (NPP) legislator.

    The NDC MPs are those for Ningo-Prampram (Samuel Nartey George), Kpando (Dela Adjoa Sowah), Ho West (Emmanuel Bedzrah), Tamale North (Alhassan Sayibu Suhuyini), Krachi West (Helen Adjoa Ntoso), La Dadekotopon (Rita Naa Odoley Sowah) and South Dayi (Rockson-Nelson Dafeamekpor).

    The NPP signatory is the MP is for Assin South, Reverend John Ntim Fordjour.

    The eight MPs say it is their ardent belief that the passage of the bill to deal with LGBTTQQIAAP+ is apt, considering a 2017 report of the Science Research Council, communicated at the fourth National HIV and Aids Research Conference in Accra.

    This showed that about 18.1% of people living with Aids in Ghana were gay.

    On the issue of advocacy and other promotional activities, they say there is currently no legislation that specifically criminalises advocacy for, funding, promotion or encouragement of LGBTTQQIAAP+ activities, except the inchoate provisions in Act 29, namely, preparation for committing certain criminal offences, abetment of a criminal offence and conspiracy.

    “This gap in the law creates opportunities for advocates of LGBTTQQIAAP+ activities to sponsor and promote the proliferation of those sexual activities. The effect of these sponsorship and promotion is that young persons are lured to assimilate otherwise unacceptable forms of sexual expressions,” they say.

    “Credible reports from the Coalition for Proper Human Sexual Rights and Family Values indicate instances when young persons are promised travel opportunities, allowances and other gifts to cause them to engage in or advocate LGBTTQQIAAP+.

    “In some instances, young persons, mostly students in colleges, are awarded commission for luring other young persons to join LGBTTQQIAAP+ groups.”

    A memorandum accompanying the bill shows that it contains 25 clauses that will be subject to amendment during consideration by the committee to which it has been referred.

    Clause 1 of the bill prohibits, among other things, a person from holding him or herself out as a lesbian, a gay man, a bisexual, transgender, a transsexual, queer, an ally, a pansexual or a person of any other socio-cultural notion of sex or sexual relationship that is contrary to the socio-cultural notions of male and female or the relationship between male and female, as well as a person who may be questioning that person’s sexuality.

    Clause 4 prohibits a person from engaging in acts that undermine the proper human sexual rights and Ghanaian family values provided for in the bill. In particular, individuals must refrain from instigating, commanding, counselling, procuring, soliciting or purposely aiding, facilitating, encouraging or promoting, whether by a personal act or otherwise, either directly or indirectly, any activity which undermines the proper human sexual rights and Ghanaian family values stipulated in the bill.

    “A person who undermines these proper human sexual rights and Ghanaian family values commits an offence and is liable, on summary conviction, to a fine of not more than 2,000 penalty units or a term of imprisonment of not less than two months and not more than four months,” the memorandum says.

    Clauses 6 to 11 deal with LGBTTQQIAAP+ and related activities. Under Clause 6, a person commits an offence if he or she engages in sexual intercourse between or among persons of the same sex, or between a man and an animal, or a woman and an animal.

    Fred Dzakpata