Leaked draft legislation in Ghana, described as the “most homophobic document the world has ever seen”, could bring in harsh prison sentences for queer folk and LGBT+ allies.
Although same-sex sexual relations are already illegal in Ghana, and punishable with up to three years in prison, the horrific new bill will criminalise everything from sex toys, to trans medical care, to simply being an LGBT+ ally.
Known as the “Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill 2021”, the bill was named after the National Coalition for Proper Human Sexual Rights and Family Values, one of Ghana’s most vicious anti-LGBT+ groups.
The bill was announced in March this year by parliamentarian Samuel Nartey George, who said that he and seven other MPs would bring forward legislation to criminalise the promotion of LGBT+ rights, but until this week, the full details of the bill were unknown.
On Friday (23 July) a draft bill was leaked and widely circulated online, revealing the full horror of the proposed legislation.
The bill would specifically criminalise anyone who “holds out” as “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, pansexual, an ally, non-binary, or any other sexual or gender identity that is contrary to the binary categories of male and female”.
Under the proposed legislation, anyone found guilty of being LGBT+, or even an ally, would face a three to five year prison sentence for what would become a second-degree felony.
It would also criminalise providing or undergoing any and all gender-affirming medical care with the same sentence.
Queer couples holding hands in public could become a “grossly indecent act” in Ghana.
The bill describes “grossly indecent acts”, punishable with six months to a year in prison, as any “public show of amorous relations” between people of the same-sex or “among persons where one or more or the persons have undergone gender or sex reassignment”.
According to LGBT+ rights group Rightify Ghana, this would criminalise any show of affection, including “two boys or girls holding hands, hands around one neck, [a] kiss on cheek”.
Additionally, sex toys would become illegal, as would anal and oral sex for all people, not just LGBT+ folk.
This section has to do with a persons behavior in public.
* “Amorous relations” between or among persons of same-sex (Eg. Two boys/girls holding hands, hands around one neck, kiss on cheek, etc”
* Intentional cross dressing (for comedy skits, soloku, film, etc) is prohibited pic.twitter.com/zlESYJp5mh
— Rightify Ghana (@RightifyGhana) July 23, 2021
As per the initial announcement, the bill would ban “LGBT+ propaganda”.
This would include mention of LGBT+ issues in any form of media, for example on social media, in newspapers or in film, promoting “sympathy” for LGBT+ people in any way, providing assistance, services or funding to LGBT+ people or groups, and teaching children about the existence of queer people.
The draft bill also promotes conversion therapy, allowing flexible sentencing for a queer person if request “treatment”, and even pushes parents of intersex children to have them undergo surgical “realignment”.
Rightify Ghana described the draft bill as the “most homophobic document the world has ever seen”, while activist Fatima Derby added: “This anti-LGBT+ bill is so absurd.
“It contravenes basic human rights in so many ways and gives the state unbridled power to control the private lives of citizens. Forcing intersex people to undergo surgery? Even the language they used is so dehumanizing.
This bill goes beyond LGBTQI+ people. It’s laying the grounds to creating a police state. It’s about religious fundamentalism. It’s about state surveillance of the people. It’s giving political leaders more power to be violent by blurring the lines of separation of power.
— tired of homophobia in GH (@JustDerby) July 22, 2021
“This bill goes beyond LGBT+ people. It’s laying the grounds to creating a police state.
“It’s about religious fundamentalism. It’s about state surveillance of the people. It’s giving political leaders more power to be violent by blurring the lines of separation of power.
I have been overwhelmed by the massive support even here on a very ‘liberal’ platform like Twitter for our Bill on the LGBTQI+ menace. Homosexuality is NOT a human right. It is a sexual preference. Preferences are not absolute or unregulated. We SHALL pass this Bill through.
— Sam ‘Dzata’ George (@samgeorgegh) July 23, 2021
However one of the bill’s sponsors, Samuel Nartey George, a self-styled “social democrat”, wrote on Twitter that since the draft legislation leaked, he has been “overwhelmed by the massive support”.
He tweeted: “I have been overwhelmed by the massive support even here on a very ‘liberal’ platform like Twitter for our Bill on the LGBTQI+ menace.
“Homosexuality is NOT a human right. It is a sexual preference. Preferences are not absolute or unregulated.
“We SHALL pass this bill through.”