The anti-LGBTQI+ bill in parliament must be handled with “careful balance”, Majority Leader Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu has said, noting that Speaker Alban Bagbin, on his own, cannot commit the entire chamber in reference to the bill’s passage.
At a press conference by the majority caucus on Tuesday, 12 October 2021, the Suame MP said: “We are a democratic country and parliament should ensure that the rights of citizens are protected.”
Democracy, he noted, does not mean “we should trample on the rights of others.”
“The appropriate thing will be done,” he noted, citing Article 40 (a) of Ghana’s Constitution as “the driving principle that should underpin our international relations.”
“In its dealings with other nations, the government shall promote and protect the interests of Ghana,” the Majority Leader noted.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu added that “the Speaker cannot commit parliament, the Speaker can make a referral to Parliament which will be programmed by the business committee for consideration.”
“I’ll find it difficult if we have a Speaker who, as part of his own antecedent as a former member of parliament, says that parliament is going to pass the bill. It’s a bit of difficulty unless I didn’t hear well.”
“I’m not saying parliament is not going to pass it, but the Speaker should not make a predetermination for the house because he’s not a Member of Parliament and this is the business of Parliament,” Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu told journalists.
Meanwhile, a former presidential hopeful, Dr Arthur Kennedy, has said some Ghanaian MPs who are against LGBTQI+ are being denied visas by Western diplomats.
While an array of intellectuals is opposing the bill, the Christian and Muslim community in Ghana are strongly behind the MPs sponsoring the private members’ bill.
The bill has sparked serious debate in Ghana and abroad.
Dr Kennedy, in a write-up, said: “Unfortunately, the opposition to the bill, motivated by the noble desire to promote tolerance for our homosexual community, has been characterised by intolerance”.
“Some lawmakers, including the bill’s sponsor, Sam George, have been threatened publicly and privately”, he noted, adding: “Calls have been made to the Speaker, threatening MPs”.
“Some have been denied visas and warned to stay away from this issue”.
“It is sad that this intimidation is coming mainly from the Western diplomatic community”.
Below is the full article
TOLERANCE AND THE DEBATE ABOUT HOMOSEXUALITY IN GHANA
The pending legislation about homosexuality in Ghana has led to unfortunate manifestations of intolerance.
Parliament is considering a bill that would criminalise certain aspects of homosexual conduct in Ghana.
In response, significant segments of the community, including Christian, Muslim and traditional authorities have offered support.
On the other hand, there is an impressive array of intellectuals and government officials who are opposing the proposed bill.
Indeed, a significant part of the diplomatic community, too, has weighed in, to oppose the bill.
My goal today is not to opine on the merits of the bill. Indeed, I wish, in the words of the sages, we had “allowed sleeping dogs to lie”.
The homosexual community, in my view, were doing fine, in their private spaces, subject to the protections of the law accorded to all citizens.
Unfortunately, the opposition to the bill, motivated by the noble desire to promote tolerance for our homosexual community, has been characterised by intolerance.
Some lawmakers, including the bill’s sponsor, Sam George, have been threatened publicly and privately.
Calls have been made to the Speaker, threatening MPs.
Some have been denied visas and warned to stay away from this issue.
It is sad that this intimidation is coming mainly from the Western diplomatic community.
In addition to democracy and the rule of law, the West exemplifies, to the eternal admiration of people like me, the attitude of tolerance. It is at the heart of multi-party democracy and the support of minority rights etc that make the West such a powerful example to the rest of the world.
As JFK put it, “Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one’s own beliefs. Rather, it condemns the oppression or persecution of others.”.
The West argued that dealing with China and Russia was better than isolating them. The West insisted on constructive engagement with Apartheid South Africa while we beat War drums. They were right. Let us not fight intolerance with intolerance.
The next time there is an election dispute or tribal fighting and the West comes preaching tolerance, it would help if opportunists cannot remind us of Western intolerance!
The problem with this bill is not the Parliament. It is reflecting public opinion. Let us continue to educate the public.
Finally, to Parliament, continue this new attitude, by championing the interest of the public for healthcare, jobs and for fighting the canker of corruption.
Long live tolerance.
Long live Ghana.
Arthur Kobina Kennedy
(11th October 2021)