New anti-LGBTQ legislation proposed in Ghana has been described as “one of the most draconian and sweeping anti-gay laws proposed around the world.”
A draft of the legislation proposes up to 10 years in prison for LGBTQ+ people in the West African nation.
Intersex people could be ordered to undergo “gender realignment” surgery by the government.
The penalties would also apply to any straight allies who “advocate for (LGBTQ+) rights, express sympathy or offer social or medical support,” according to The Guardian.
Additionally, media companies or online sites that share information “which could be deemed to encourage children to explore any gender or sex outside of the binary categories of male and female could face 10 years in prison.”
The new law would also specifically define marriage as between a man and a woman.
While human rights activists have expressed outrage over the bill, it has been hailed by several members of Parliament. Figures in President Nana Akufo-Addo’s administration have also reportedly expressed their support.
A PDF of the bill, titled “Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanian Family Values Bill,” was leaked online and confirmed by diplomats as authentic.
Ignatius Annor, a TV journalist in Africa for EuroNews who came out as gay in February, tweeted that he couldn’t read past a few paragraphs calling the bill “inhumane.” He added that, “If passed, Ghana is DOOMED.”
Some MPs in 🇬🇭 are pushing for a law to ban the LGBTQI community. I'm part of 🏳️🌈. The truth: I couldn't read past a few paragraphs. I deleted the pdf file. It's just inhumane. If passed, Ghana is DOOMED. This bill must never be passed. It's full of hate and God have mercy. 🙏🏿🏳️🌈 pic.twitter.com/kEm2o5mJo5
— Ignatius Annor (@IgnatiusAnnor) July 23, 2021
One MP who co-authored the legislation, Sam ‘Dzata’ George, took to Twitter to defend his bill and dismiss criticism as “uninformed.”
“Homosexuality is not a human right. It is a sexual preference,” wrote George. “Take your perversion and let me speak my truth!”
I have seen the attacks from a few goons aligned to a political inclination based on my leadership on the PMB against LGBTQI+ in Ghana. Bow your heads in shame. Nothing would stand in our way to get this Bill passed by the House. Take your perversion and let me speak my truth! 🦁
— Sam 'Dzata' George (@samgeorgegh) July 22, 2021
A lot of uninformed commentary, emotional huffing and puffing and vain grandstanding from persons who have failed to grasp the import of the Bill. So far, not even one intellectual challenge seen. We are focused on the substance and would pass this Bill. 🦁#WeMove
— Sam 'Dzata' George (@samgeorgegh) July 23, 2021
Over the past several months, authorities have stepped up pressure on anyone or anything that could be perceived as being part of an “LGBTQ+ agenda.”
In February, the country’s first LGBTQ+ community center was forced to close following a wave of anti-gay outrage.
In May, 21 people were arrested at an event in Ho city which was held to provide training for paralegals and activists who would support LGBTQ+ causes.
There are already laws on the books in Ghana which make it illegal to have “unnatural carnal knowledge,” which is often understood to mean anything other than heterosexual sex.