MP to Speaker: Your stance on anti-LGBTQI Bill is worrying

“The bill seems to be enjoying some support from both sides [of Parliament] … but while doing that, we need to look at the constitution as a whole. Everybody has human rights that must be protected”
Davis Ansah Opoku, the MP for Mpraeso, has criticised the Speaker of Parliament for taking an entrenched position on the anti-LGBTQI Bill currently before the House.

The Speaker, Alban Bagbin, directed on Tuesday that committee sittings, debates and voting on the passage of the proposed Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill 2021 be made public to ensure transparency and inclusiveness.

Reacting to the comment on The Asaase Breakfast Show on Friday (29 October), the Mpraeso MP said the Speaker’s stance on the bill is problematic.

Be neutral
“As we speak, there has not been any attempt by any individual – MP or anybody – to try and legalise homosexuality in our country.

“Nobody has brought before us a proposal that seeks to legalise homosexuality. I mean what is before Parliament is a bill that seeks to stampede or stop the promotion of the practice,” Opoku said.

“And it seems to be enjoying some support from both sides … but while doing that, we need to look at the constitution as a whole. Everybody has a right, human rights that must be protected.

“So, this attempt by the Speaker to, as it were, box every Member of Parliament into thinking like the way he does, for me, is very worrying,” Opoku said.

The Mpraeso MP called on the Speaker to play a neutral role.

“First of all, I think the Speaker should limit himself to the chair. Even before the debate starts, taking sides and positions does not really help,” he said on The Asaase Breakfast Show.

Background
Welcoming MPs back from recess to commence the third meeting of the first session of the eighth parliament on Tuesday (26 October), Bagbin gave his assurance that all stakeholders will be given an opportunity to share their opinion on the bill.

“The Parliament of Ghana is capable of handling the situation. I assure citizens of this country that we’ll create an enabling environment for all to put across their views. At the end of the day, the processes of the House will determine the outcome,” Bagbin said.

“And when that is done, I’m convinced that the law that will come out of this will protect the culture and values of our people and the Ghanaian identity.

“The law agrees that we also take into consideration the human rights and freedoms that have been guaranteed under our constitution and it’s a law that takes into consideration the richness of the common sense, human decency and morality, fact and logic. And at the end of the day it’s a law that will … transform this country into something else,” he said.

“Let’s allow all stakeholders to participate in the deliberations of this House.”

He added: “I know Ghanaians are expectant and I know we’ve over 100 petitions before the committee on constitutional, legal and parliamentary affairs. It’s not only Africa, but the whole world is looking for the outcome of this bill, so we’ll not just allow people to come and delay the process.

“We’ll make the process public and the decision of this House will be public. We’ll want to know where each Member of Parliament stands.”

Violation of human rights
A group of 18 prominent Ghanaian citizens has rejected the anti-gay bill in Parliament, saying it constitutes an “impermissible invasion of the inviolability and human dignity” of the LGBTQI community.

The first reading of the anti-LGBTQI Bill took place on 2 August 2021 in Parliament, and its consideration is expected to resume in November.

It was originally put forward by six parliamentarians, led by the opposition MP Sam George. The new law seeks to criminalise lesbianism and sex between men in Ghana.

The group of prominent citizens, led by the renowned legal practitioner Akoto Ampaw, argues that the anti-LGBTQI Bill “violates all the fundamental freedoms guaranteed by the 1992 constitution”. The group says that, if passed into law, the proposed legislation will send Ghana into a dark age of lawlessness.

“The bill violates virtually all the key fundamental freedoms guaranteed under the constitution, namely the right to freedom of speech and expression, the right to assemble, freedom of association and the right to organise, the right to freedom from discrimination and the right to human dignity,” Ampaw said at a press conference on 4 October.

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