It’s Official: ‘Trumu Trumu’ Banned In Ghana! …As Parliament Defies Odds To Pass ‘Anti-Gay Bill’ Into Law …But Audrey Gazekpo Goes ‘Bonkers’

The Human Sexual Rights and Family Values Bill has been passed into law, after successfully going through all parliamentary proceedings. Also known as the antigay (LGBTQI+) law, the new Act was approved by members of the House
unanimously on Wednesday, February 28, 2024.

The contentious law is, however, a step away from being effective, as it needs the assent of the President. The Legislative House is expected to officially forward the Act to the Executive for assent. The private members’ bill, sponsored by eight MPs, from both sides,
was led by the MP for Ningo-Prampram, Samuel Nettey George.

Professor Audrey Gadzekpo

On the floor of the House yesterday, Speaker Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin put the question for those in favour or against to make their positions known, after the second consideration stage was concluded. However, none of the MPs had the testicular fortitude to say no. The Speaker then said the ‘Ayes’ have it and went ahead to bang his gavel to signify the passage of the contentious Act.

“The Human Sexual Rights and Family Values Bill 2021 is read the third time and passed,” he said, as he brought down his gavel. The Act is to provide for human sexual rights and family values in Ghana. Offenders would be sentenced to a jail term of up to five years.
Meanwhile, Professor Audrey Gazekpo, the Board Chair of the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) has expressed disappointment at the turn of events.

She is not happy that Parliament has passed the bill and has indicated that if President Akufo-Addo gives his assent, she and the advocacy group will test the law on the anti-gay bill by going to court.

LAST ARGUMENTS Before the bill was passed yesterday some amendments had to be dealt with. It would be recalled that the Majority Leader, Alexander Afenyo-Markin, withdrew several proposed amendments to the bill on February 21, 2024. He was particularly against the custodial sentence and thus proposed amendments for it to be expunged.

Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, Speaker of  Parliament of Ghana

The House disagreed with him, which he conceded. During Wednesday’s parliamentary
session, the Effutu MP reiterated his stance on the bill. He was against measures that could prevent individuals or groups from providing support to vulnerable members of society.
Afenyo-Markin emphasised the importance of aligning the bill with constitutional imperatives. He highlighted the need to uphold human rights, stating “You cannot—let’s not be too emotional about this; let’s be consistent.”

The MP for Akatsi South, Bernard Ahiafor, opposed the amendments raised by the majority leader. According to him, the amendments proposed by Mr. Afenyo-Markin prohibit funding, promoting and facilitating the activities of LGBTQI+ people, which the bill seeks to proscribe. “Mr Speaker, we’re not discriminating; we’re proscribing using your money to fund and promote activities that will become illegal after the passage of this particular law.

So, I don’t agree with him subjecting it to the provisions of the constitution.” The Adansi-Asokwa legislator, Kobina Tahir Hammond, pointed out that the majority leader understood the anti-gay bill and that he was cautioning Parliament against offending the tenets of the constitution. “The Majority Leader is saying that if it is accepted that the 10 and the 11 should be read in subject to the constitution, what is the difficulty in subjecting the 12? I find it very difficult to comprehend what they are talking about.”

Order 172(4) states a motion for the third reading shall not be made on the same day as the second reading. After the consideration stage, the House must wait a day before moving on to the third reading. However, the MP for Asawase, Muntaka Mubarak, moved a motion to suspend this rule, a motion that was carried. This paved the way for the House to proceed to the third reading and passage.

A day before the passage of the much-talked-about anti-gay bill, a group of activists, mostly lawyers, called the ‘Big 18’& Human Coalition claimed it represented a clear danger for the country. According to the group, it “criminalises a person’s identity and strips away fundamental human rights” and urged the president to reject it. Prof Takyiwaa Manuah, a senior fellow at the CDDGhana, said no one should face jail time or harassment for their sexuality, adding that their rights must be respected.

The United Nations warned in 2021 that the proposed law would “create a system of state-sponsored discrimination and violence” against gay people in Ghana. In Uganda, its highest court is currently considering a ruling on a similar anti-gay law that threatens life imprisonment and even death for homosexuality. Ugandan civil rights groups immediately
challenged the anti-homosexuality act when it was passed in December.

The U.S. has condemned that legislation and sanctioned Uganda by restricting visas and withholding trade over it.


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