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Ghana passes law making even identifying as LGBTQ illegal and punishable by 3 years in prison

Amnesty International has called the law one of the harshest on the African continent

By Jamie Tabberer

(Image: Pixabay)
(Image: Pixabay)

Ghana’s Parliament passed a new anti-LGBTQ bill yesterday (Wednesday 28 February 2024), meaning people who even identify as queer could face a three-year prison sentence.

The bill, if signed into law by President Nana Akufo-Addo, would also punish those who organise LGBTQ advocacy groups, and ‘promote’ the cause by up to five years in prison.

The sentence could be raised to 10 years if the promotion is aimed at children.

Gay sex will also be punishable by five years, up from three under the previous law. It would also encourage members of the public to report LGBTQs to the authorities so they could take “action”

“Significant threat”

Both major political parties back the bill, which has been called one of the harshest on the African continent by Amnesty International.

The human rights group has previously warned the law “poses significant threats to the fundamental rights and freedoms.”

Alexander Afenyo-Markin, a member of the governing New Patriotic Party, has called for the law to be toned down, suggesting those convicted be given counselling and handed community service. However, lawmakers in Parliament reportedly shouted him down.

The BBC quotes Winnie Byanyima, the head of the UN body tackling Aids, as saying: “If Human Sexual rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill becomes a law, it will exacerbate fear and hatred, could incite violence against fellow Ghanaian citizens, and will negatively impact on free speech, freedom of movement and freedom of association.”

Responding to the news, Linda Nduri, a Kenya-based campaign manager for nonprofit Africa at All Out, told the New York Times: “There are still so many countries in Africa where being LGBTQ is considered evil or un-African.”

Only 22 of 54 nations allow homosexuality in Africa, while three carry the death penalty for gay sex: Nigeria, Mauritania, and Somalia

Other African countries to tighten restrictions on LGBTQ freedoms in recent years include Uganda and Kenya.