The Majority Leader in Parliament, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu has told the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin that he cannot make predetermination for the House in relation to the anti-gay bill which is currently before the legislature.
The Suame Member of Parliament explained at a press conference in Accra on Tuesday, October 12 that the Speaker is not a lawmaker hence, does not have the powers to make any determination in this matter.
At best, he said, he can make a referral to Parliament which will be programmed by the business committee for consideration.
The Speaker had said that he is pro-life therefore parliament will pass the bill as soon as possible.
“Ghanaians have spoken with one voice. I sit here as Speaker of Ghana, I represent Ghanaians and the country Ghana. We have spoken with one voice that we don’t want anything to do with whatever things they add,” he said in an earlier engagement
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu told journalists that “If I heard right, the Speaker was even saying that the bill is going to be passed but I have a little bit of challenge with that. Technically the speaker is not even a Member of Parliament, the speaker cannot commit Parliament. 7
“The Speaker can make a referral to Parliament which will be programmed by the business committee for consideration. I will find it difficult if we have a speaker who will in spite of his own antecedent as a former Member of Parliament to say that Parliament is going to pass the bill. It is a bit of a difficulty.
“I am not saying that parliament is not going to pass the bill but the speaker should not make a predetermination for the house because he is not a member of parliament and this is the business of parliament.”
He further stated that in principle, no lawmaker is against the antigay bill which is currently before parliament.
“In principle, I am not sure any Member of Parliament will be against the principle of this bill. I am an African, I am a Ghanaian, an Ashanti, Kwabre man and I have my own values.
“I have my own upbringing, one that is shaped by my tradition and upbringing. As I have said along the line, I am Christian, I was born into Assemblies of God church so my faith also impacts my upbringing. But that is not the only thing that shapes my upbringing,
“That is why I am saying, and I refer to the first provision in Chapter 11 of the Constitution which is Article 125 when it says that justice emanates from the people.
“We have our concept of what is right and what is wrong, I don’t know of any ethnic group of this country that will applaud this.”
The controversial anti-gay bill which is currently before parliament has already divided opinion in the Ghanaian public discourse.
While some, particularly the religious and traditional groupings, have supported the Bill and are hopeful of its passing, others say it could incur the wrath of the international community against Ghana.
For instance, a private legal practitioner Mr Akoto Ampaw has said the way and manner the bill has been designed indicates the extremism of the mind frame that produced it.
He is totally against the bill and wants it abandoned.
“The fact that the bill goes to that extent of criminalizing somebody who is an intersex or criminalizing somebody who is asexual, this is a meaningless project, shows the extremism of the mind frame that produced that bill,” he said on TV3’s Key Points with Dzifa Bampoh on Saturday, October 9.
He further said the current debate on homosexuals in Ghana is not about religious beliefs or numbers.
“First of all, I want to make the point clear that this debate is not about religious beliefs.
“Secondly, this debate is not about numbers. It is not lining up how many people support gays -30million, how many people are against gay – 2million, that is not the issue.
“The fundamental issue has to do with our constitution and rights . That is the basic issue that we have to address.”
He added “It is a bit gratifying that just recently the Majority leader in Parliament said that the matter will not be discussed on the basis of religious beliefs. I think that is a major step forward if that is how parliament is going to address this matter. It is a constitutional matter.”
Several bodies including the Ghana Catholic Bishop Conference have said that want homosexuality to be illegal in Ghana.
The Bishops described the practice as an abomination on the basis of scriptures in the Holy Bible.
“As a Church, we want this abominable practice made illegal in our country… The Bible, which is foundational to Christian beliefs and practices, condemns the practice,”
“Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered towards an intrinsic moral evil, and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder…
“The Church rejects the unfounded and demeaning assumption that the sexual behaviour of homosexual persons is always and very compulsive and, therefore, they should not be blamed for their homosexual acts,” a statement they issued said.
It added “Nevertheless, according to the Church’s understanding of human rights, the rights of homosexuals as persons do not include the right of a man to marry a man or of a woman to marry a woman. For the Church, this is morally wrong and goes against God’s purpose for marriage. We should also point out that the European Court for Human Rights has ruled that same-sex “marriages” are not considered a human right, making it clear that homosexual partnerships do not in fact equal marriages between a man and a woman. The ruling was announced 9th June 2016 in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.”
Meanwhile, the dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA), Professor Kofi Abotsi has said the debates for gay rights or criminalization in Ghana is unwinnable.
According to him, both sides are digging in and positions are becoming irrational and untenable.
“The debates for gay rights or criminalization is unwinnable! Both sides are digging in and positions are becoming irrational & untenable and this is crowding out good reasons and circumspection as lawmakers ponder the bill & its intents!” he said in a tweet on Thursday, October 7.
In relation to this matter, one of the sponsors of the bill, Ningo Prampram lawmaker, Sam George had earlier described Professor of Journalism and Mass Communication, Kwame Karikari as a hypocrite following his submission on the bill.
He said if he is asked to score Professor Karikari on his submission, he would give him an F.
Prof Karikari had said the bill which Sam George and some of his colleague legislators are promoting is dangerous because it seeks to promote hate for homosexuals in the country.
In the view of Prof Karikari, gays and lesbians are human beings and deserve to be respected and protected like any other person.
To that end, he said, any law that seeks to create problems for this group should be rejected.
He said this while speaking on the First Take with Dzifa Bampoh on 3FM on Monday, October 4.
He said he and a few of his colleagues who are fighting for the rights of homosexuals to be respected in Ghana are going to hold a public forum to debate this subject.
“Hopefully, the media may also want to pick up the debate, debate them so that the public will instantly get to know the views that we hold and the views that the proponents of what we considered to be a dangerous bill also hold.
“We think we live in a democracy and we must be grateful to God that we live in a democracy so that whatever parliament, the executive or any branch of government does will be openly discussed and people can therefore take their decisions and then the lawmakers and the executives can also take some wisdom from the public debate.
“We know that most societies have a prejudice against homosexuality, lesbianism and these other social practices. We are not at all surprised that the overwhelming majority have prejudiced or even hate this small minority of people in society. We have no problem with that. What we are saying is this.
“This law is setting up the minority. Our constitution does not discriminate about humans beings unless the proponents of this bill, unless the 95 per cent who say they don’t like homosexuality, we want them to say that homosexuals, lesbians are not human beings. Are they human beings also are they not human beings?
“If they are human beings and they are human beings then we think that they are protected by the constitution so any law that is made to arouse, promote engineer and mobilize hate against that minority is against the rights of those minority people and should not be passed.”
Speaking on the same programme, Sam George said “He has made so many sweeping comments and I expected that he would have been held to strict proof. His argument is hollow and if I was marking this as a script he will score an F.
“This is someone who says the constitution protects people, you [Dzifa Bampoh] read to him a section of the bill which provides protection for persons who identify as LGBTQ from extrajudicial treatment and he tells you it is a hoax.
“This is the same person asking us to provide proof of the health challenges, the public risk that the LGBTQ community proposes and he is telling you that our bill is a hoax without any proof.
“Today 4th October, the head of the Ghana AIDS Commission, speaking to another media house in Accra decried the increasing prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Ghana and the fact that HIV prevalence in Ghana is rising. In that interview, he was asked specifically which demographic is pushing this number up, he said men having sex with men. That is the empirical evidence. Now can you ask Prof Kwame Karikari and his cohorts what empirical evidence they have to say that say part of our bill is a hoax? Has he educated himself and has he read the bill or he is basically just running riot in town on the basis of their misconception?”
The Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill was laid in the House on Monday, August 2 and read for the first time.
Reading for the first time, a clerk in the legislative assembly stated that the Bill prescribes lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) and other related activities and propaganda or advocacy and promotion for same.
It also came to light that it supports protection for children and persons who are victims or accused of homosexuality.
Second Deputy Speaker Andrew Asiamah Amoako referred the Bill to the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Committee for consideration.
“For the first time, it is referred to the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for consideration and report,” Mr Asiamah Amoako, who is also the MP for Fomena, directed.
The Chairman of the Pentecost Church, Apostle Eric Nyamekye has asked President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to fight Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, Intersex (LGBTQI+) before he exits office.
He said although Mr Akufo-Addo has stated categorically that gays and lesbianism will not be legalized under his watch, the President must begin to take measures to stop the gay movement that has started in the country before he exits office.
“The church of Pentecost is 10.38 per cent of the Ghanaian population and we are against this LGBTQI+.
“Our concern is not about today, it is about the future. Today, when we let in this LGBTI what is going to happen, is that we are going to accept same-sex marriage which the president says it is never going to happen at his watch.
“But if he allows LGBTQI to start, it is true that it is never going to happen at his watch but, by the time it gets to same-sex marriage the president will not be the president of the nation. I agree with him but he should stop this, he should close the doors at where it matters and we are saying that he should close it now.
“This movement is an insult to God the creator, you are just telling God that he didn’t think enough,” he told journalists on Wednesday, October 6.
The Church of Pentecost on Wednesday presented a memo to parliament in support of the steps taken to pass the anti-gay bill which is currently before the legislature.
The memo was presented to the lawmakers on Wednesday, October 6.
The clergymen were received by Sam George.