On August 17, 2017, a group of Ghanaians living in Canada staged a protest to get support from powerful Canadian institutions to put pressure on Ghana to decriminalize homosexuality. In response to the protest, the Assin South Member of Parliament, (who is also on Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, and Chairman of Ghana-Canada Parliamentary Friendship Association) John Ntim Fordjour, called on MPs to fight against legalizing homosexuality in Ghana.
In a press conference Mr. Ntim said, “Without prejudice to the position of the Parliament of Ghana, Government of Ghana, any religious body or political party on the subject of homosexuality, lesbianism and bestiality, premised on my deepest convictions and principles as a Christian, Reverend Minister and a proud advocate of Jesus Christ and legislator, Member of Parliament for Assin South constituency, I hereby openly, and unequivocally declare my firm position against the advocacy group…” He describes the acts of the group as a “demonic agenda”.
Again, he said, “It is worth stating that the constitution of Ghana makes adequate provision which debar homosexuality, lesbianism, bestiality and such acts that defile the core tenets of our beliefs, values, customs and traditions as a people.”
A month before the utterances of Mr. Ntim, the speaker of Parliament of the Republic of Ghana, Mike Oquaye, also made it known that Ghana will not countenance the aggressive push by external forces to accept homosexuality.
The issue of whether to decriminalize homosexuality or not has been with us for some time. As some have called for the decriminalization of the act; others have called for strengthening of existing laws which appear to be quite vague – for example it is very difficult to punish lesbians for homosexual acts by the law because the law is premised on unnatural carnal knowledge, which is defined as “sexual intercourse with a person in an unnatural manner or with an animal.” Again, the law says “unnatural carnal knowledge shall be deemed complete upon proof of the least degree of penetration.” What does this mean for women?
According to the Ghanaian Criminal Code, individuals who are engaged in homosexual behaviour can be imprisoned for up to 25 years, but that will depend on whether the act is consensual or not; if the act is consensual the maximum years they can serve is three.
From the utterances of certain Ghanaian leaders, it is clear that they think decriminalizing homosexuality will make them compromise their principles or believes. With such issues, the thing to do is to elevate the discussion. Does a government have the right to punish someone who has not initiated force? Does any government have the right to tell people what to do in their bedrooms? Does any government have the right to thwart people from pursuing their happiness if their happiness does not harm others, whether their actions are rational or not?
To make the above paragraph seem more applicable I will use this example. Imagine in a certain country, there are a group of people who consider the cow to be a sacred animal, therefore it should not be slaughtered. There are other people in the same country who do not hold such beliefs. Now, do those who do not eat nor kill cows have the right to enact laws to prevent people who eat cows from killing cows? Do they have the right to put a ban on cows? Shouldn’t those who do not slaughter cows let their cows live and those who eat cows be allowed to slaughter cows they own? Does believing that people who want to eat cows be allowed to slaughter their cows mean you have compromised your beliefs? This example is a real problem in several Indian Sates.
Another example that most Ghanaians can easily relate to is religious harmony. Majority of Ghanaians are Christians? Do the majority Christians have the right to vote away the minority Muslims’ right to worship away, because their beliefs are different? Or do the majority Christians have the right to vote the tiny minority atheists’ rights away? In Soviet Russia, the atheist government tightly regulated religious practice. In Saudi Arabia conversion to another religion from Islam is punishable by death. The government of Angola does not recognize Islam, whatever that means.
Elevating the discussion should help us see how vulnerable we all are if we vote other peoples’ rights away. Today, someone may be the victim, but next time it will be you. The fact that you disagree with the actions of someone does not mean the person should be punished, especially when the person’s action does not harm you. A reason why some people are against decriminalizing homosexual behaviour is because they say it is against our tradition as Ghanaians. Every society is made up of individuals; only individuals can have a tradition; the abstraction called society cannot be perceived without individuals. Individuals have the right to do whatever pleases them so far as it does not affect others.
Sex should be an act between two adults. What two consenting adults decide to do in their bedroom is nobody’s business. Personally, I do not understand why a person will want to be homosexual, but that does not give me the right to compel homosexuals to agree with me by forcing my perspective on them. The best way I can get them to accept my position should be through persuasion.
The primary job of a government is to maintain law and order. This involves protecting the rights of minorities, not to make them suffer. The law that criminalizes homosexual behaviour between two consenting adults is immoral. It is a disgrace to freedom.
In as much as homosexuals should be allowed to be, I think it is wrong for a government to have campaigns that are intended to make people accept the act as normal, not on my tax payer money; acceptance is different from legality. People who disagree with a practice should not be made to pay for something they detest. Homosexuals have the right to do their own education, and they should have that right. They cannot demand to be accepted or not be discriminated against by other individuals. Only a government cannot discriminate, individuals can.
WRITER: Fritz Gyamfi