The issue of legalising homosexuality in Ghana has been hotly raised once again, following President Nana Akufo-Addo’s comments in a recent interview on Aljazeera Talk.
Asked by Aljazeera’s Jane Dutton, Nana Addo described homosexuality legalisation as a social and cultural issue which has found no place in the Ghanaian society at the moment but added that the current stand depends on public opinion.
“This is a social, cultural issue. I don’t believe that in Ghana so far, a sufficiently strong coalition has emerged which is having that impact on public opinion that will say ‘change it, let’s now have a new paradigm in Ghana’.
“At the moment, I don’t feel, I don’t see that in Ghana there is that strong current of opinion that is saying this is something we need to deal with. It is not so far a matter that is on the agenda,” he added.
Continuing, Nana Addo explained that the legalisation of homosexuality all over the world has largely been influenced by protests and activism. Making reference to England, the president pointed out that LGBT was once banned and regarded as a taboo there “until the activities of individuals and groups…grew and grew stronger and enforced the change in the law.”
However, the President’s response which has been widely described as ‘unclear’ has since drawn massive criticisms from various groups and individuals across the country.
Christian Council Reacts
The Christian Council of Ghana following President Akufo-Addo’s comments are demanding that government states in clear terms the country’s stance on homosexuality. For them, legalising homosexuality should be dependent on government laws and never on pressure from the public.
Making reference to late president Atta Mills, the council called on Nana Addo to make Ghana’s position on the issue of legalising homosexuality clear. They concluded by saying that pressure will never make them to accept homosexuality
Homosexuality NOT a Crime in Ghana
Lawyer and former Executive Director of Danquah Institute, Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko in a Facebook post have defended Akufo-Addo’s recent stance on legalising homosexuality, argued that Ghana’s laws do not state that homosexuality is a criminal offence, but rather prohibits “unnatural carnal knowledge”.
According to Gabby, it is now left for lawyers to debate and determine what is unnatural carnal knowledge and what is not. Mr. Otchere-Darko concluded by saying that what Ghanaians need to fight is “the culture of hate” against anybody because of his or her sexual orientation.
Homosexuality in Ghana
As indicated by Lawyer Gabby, Ghana’s law on homosexuality remains somewhat unclear. Chapter 6 of Ghana’s Criminal Code 1960, as amended by the Criminal Code Act, 2003 defined unnatural carnal knowledge as sexual intercourse with a person in an unnatural manner or with an animal. Homosexuality has over the years been included in this, attracting about three years imprisonment in a situation where the act is performed with the consent of involved parties. But when it is done without consent, it is punishable by 5-25 years in jail.
There have been calls for Ghana’s constitution to be amended to make the country’s gay laws clearly stated. Back in 2012, there were calls on the Constitution Review Committee (CRC) to rule on Ghana’s stand on legalising same-sex marriage. However, the move was deferred on the grounds of the issue not being worthy of discussion or receiving reactions in a progressive state such as Ghana.
In July this year, the Speaker of the Parliament, Prof. Mike Oquaye once again raised the calls for a constitutional amendment to specifically and totally ban homosexuality in Ghana, but his calls are yet to be heed.
Also in 2015, after the United States officially legalised same-sex marriage, popular Ghanaian traditional priest, Kwaku Bonsam had called on former president Mahama to break the silence on Ghana’s stand on the issue of gay rights. But the call was as well ignored.