Queer Lives Under Threat as Ghana’s Parliament Passes Anti-LGBTQ Bill

New York, USA – Outright International strongly condemns the passing of the “Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill, 2021” in Ghana, which aims to criminalize the very existence of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) individuals and their allies. The bill that Ghana’s parliament passed on 28 February 2024 will have severe and detrimental effects on the lives and freedoms of LGBTQ individuals in Ghana.

This draconian bill flouts Ghana’s regional and international human rights obligations. It violates the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Resolution 275, which aims to protect individuals from violence and discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity and to ensure their equal protection under the law. Article 2 of the African Charter prohibits discrimination “of any kind,” including based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill further violates various treaties that Ghana has ratified, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which protects the rights to privacy and non-discrimination.

“Ghana’s anti-LGBTQ bill tramples human rights, undermines family values of acceptance and unity, and risks derailing economic development and eroding democratic gains. Banning the very existence of queer people and their allies is unprecedented. The hostility this bill displays toward LGBTQ Ghanaians will put lives and livelihoods at risk,” said Neela Ghoshal, Senior Director of Law, Policy, and Research at Outright International.

Outright International’s research has uncovered alarming findings regarding the potential dangers faced by LGBTQ individuals in Ghana if the proposed anti-LGBTQ Bill is enacted. Among other findings, the research indicates that the passage of the anti-LGBTQ Bill would lead to a surge in violence and human rights violations against LGBTQ persons in Ghana. These dangers include an increased risk of mob attacks, physical and sexual violence, arbitrary arrests, blackmail, online harassment, forced evictions, homelessness, and employment discrimination. We call on President Nana Akufo-Addo not to sign this bill into law.

As critiqued by a trio of prominent Ghanaian lawyers in the African Human Rights Law Journal, the foundational arguments put forward by the proponents of the bill, including that LGBTQ people pose a public health threat, are factually inaccurate and a mischaracterization of human rights in the 1992 Constitution of Ghana. The bill seeks to disband existing LGBTQ civil society groups, criminalize the activities of sexual minority rights advocates, and impose an obligation on all persons and entities to report any people perceived to be LGBTQ or any homosexual activity to the police or community leaders.

Outright International stands in solidarity with LGBTQ individuals and allies in Ghana and calls on the Ghanaian government to uphold its human rights obligations. The bill counteracts the democratic gains Ghana has made over the years and would erode respect for human rights and constitutionalism achieved in the last two decades of democracy.

Ghana’s president should reject this bill and instead work towards upholding the rights and dignity of all individuals, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. We call on all supporters of human rights in Ghana to join us in condemning this regressive and harmful bill.

Source – Outright International