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Ghana anti-LGBTQ bill imposing 10-year prison stays ‘threatens HIV/AIDS fight’

The proposed bill has been denounced as "a gross violation of human rights" by UNAIDS.

By Jamie Tabberer

Words: Jamie Tabberer; picture: Pexels (posed by model)

The United Nations has slammed a proposed bill in Ghana that would punish LGBTQs and their allies by up to 10 years in prison.

Gay sex is currently punishable in Ghana by three years in prison. Under the new law, a maximum five-year sentence could be imposed, rising to 10 years for advocating for LGBTQ rights.

The African country’s Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill received its first parliamentary reading on Monday (2 August 2021). It is pending second reading.

The drafted legislation would criminalise support for intersex people and allow the government to direct them to receive ‘gender realignment’ surgery, reports the Guardian.

A rep for the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) condemned the law as “a gross violation of human rights.”

“UNAIDS urges lawmakers to reject this bill”

Patrick Brenny, who works on UNAIDS programmes across west and central Africa, commented (as per Reuters): “This proposed legislation is a gross violation of the human rights of Ghana’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, who already face high levels of violence, abuse, stigma and discrimination.

“UNAIDS stands squarely on the side of human rights, expresses its solidarity with LGBT people in Ghana, and urges lawmakers to reject this bill.”

He added: “If passed, this legislation will have the certain effect of driving people further away from HIV prevention, care and treatment services and endanger the advances made.”

Reuters cites UNAIDS research indicating only 60% of the 350,000 Ghanaians living with HIV currently get anti-retroviral therapy, dropping to 3.7% for the estimated 55,000 men who have sex with men living with HIV in the country.