Protesters at a 2021 rally in New York City against a bill proposed in Ghana's parliament that would make identifying as LGBTQ or an ally a criminal offense Source: Associated Press

Ghana's Anti-LGBTQ+ Bill Draws International Condemnation After It Is Passed by Parliament

Francis Kokutse READ TIME: 2 MIN.

A bill which criminalizes LGBTQ+ people in Ghana and their supporters drew international condemnation Thursday after it was passed by parliament, with the United Nations calling it "profoundly disturbing" and urging for it not to become law.

In a statement, Ravina Shamdasani, spokeswoman for the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner, said the bill broadens the scope of criminal sanctions against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people simply for being who they are, and threatens criminal penalties against those perceived as their allies.

"Consensual same-sex conduct should never be criminalized ... The bill, if it becomes law, will be corrosive, and will have a negative impact on society as a whole," she said.

The bill, which was voted through by parliament in the West African nation on Wednesday, was first introduced three years ago. It criminalizes relationships, sexual activity and public displays of affection between members of the LGBTQ+ community.

It also targets their supporters and the promotion and funding of LGBTQ+-related activities. Those convicted could face up to a decade in prison.

The bill has been sent to the president's desk to be signed into law.

Ghana has generally been considered to be more respectful of human rights than most African countries, but since the legislation passed through parliament, international condemnation has grown.

The United States said it was deeply troubled by the bill, saying it threatens Ghanaians' freedom of speech and is urging for its constitutionality to be reviewed, said State Department spokesman Matthew Miller on Wednesday.

In a radio interview the attorney general and minister of justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame, said he would not advise the president to sign a bill into law that didn't abide by the constitution.

Audrey Gadzekpo, chairman of the Center for Democratic Development, a rights group, said it will continue advocating to get the bill thrown out, including by going to court.

LGBTQ+ people in Ghana say they're worried for the safety of those around them such as health providers, as well as for themselves.

"The passage of this bill, it demonstrates to me and all Ghanaians that our politicians do not respect our democracy. They do not respect our constitution, nor do they respect the many international rights treaties that Ghana has signed onto over the years," a queer person who did not want to be named for fear of reprisal told The Associated Press.

"I don't know how much longer I can continue to live in a country that has criminalized me," she said.


Associated Press writers Misper Apawu in Accra and Sam Mednick in Dakar, Senegal contributed to this report.

by Francis Kokutse

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