General Politics

Litmus test for Parliament: MPs to vote openly on anti-LGPTQ bill?

This is a litmus test for Ghana’s eighth (8th) Parliament of the 4th Republic. The August House reconvened Tuesday, 26th October, 2021, with the anti-LGBTQ bill currently at the consideration stage, serving as a cliff-hanger watching on the voting patterns of individual legislators when the matter reaches the crucial stage of adoption or rejection.

The private motion on anti-LGBTQ bill is being spear-headed by the MP for Ningo Prampram, Samuel Gyata Nettey George and lawyer Moses Foh-Amoaning. The bill seeks to criminalize the practice of homosexuality in all of its ramifications. At the thrust of the bill is the proper promotion and practice of sexual practice, behaviour and the promotion of decent Ghanaian family values.

There are also hundreds of petitions from civil society and religious groups, traditional rulers and private individuals calling on Parliament to vote overwhelmingly in favour of the anti-LGBTQ bill. However, there are other eminent Ghanaians, who have openly kicked against the anti-LGBTQ bill, contending that the content and character of the bill in its current form if passed, would be a gross violation of the fundamental human rights of LGBTQ practitioners.

The 18-member team include Prof Kwame Karikari, former Dean of the School of Communication Studies, Prof Audrey Gadzekpo, the current Dean of the School of Communications Studies, Legal Practitioner, Akoto Ampaw, Dr. Yao Graham, a leading Civil Society Organization campaigner, Engineer and politician, Dr. Charles Yves Wereko-Brobby, among others.

There is sharp division on the Legislature front on the subject. The minority NDC is unequivocal on its stance on the LGBTQ practice, stating openly that they will block any attempts to legalize homosexuality in the country. The majority NPP members are however cagey on the matter.

There are however, a few within the majority, who have openly stated a view on the subject. Even at that, they’ve been evasive on where their position lies in the matter, except one member—the deputy Minister of Education, Rev. Nti Fordjour , whose anti principle on the issue is being driven by his religious orientation.

He has stated clearly his abhorrence for the practice. The government’s evasiveness on the issue is also not helping matters on the majority front. Often, government officials and other leading members of the governing party have tried the waters to gauge Ghanaian reactions on the matter.

However, it does seem majority of Ghanaians are not the least prepared to change their hardline stance on the LGBTQ issue. As if torn between the deep red-sea and the devil, the President himself is wobbling on his stance. He seems to be singing different tunes, depending on who he is addressing on the matter.

If it’s about meeting with the Ghanaian clergy, the President is definite in his response: “Homosexuality will not happen under my watch”. But the same President will tell the international media that the world has become a global village and so there is the need for us or the world, especially those who are against the act, to take a critical view of the matter. Even here his answers are not concise and precise.

From every indication, it’s clear if our President had his own will, he would have danced to the tune being played by the Western powers, especially, judging from the background that the West has made the legalization of homosexuality a major aid conditionality. Nonetheless, our President seems to unwillingly though, to be hampered in his decision by Ghanaian societal norms and practices; and the fact that almost every sectorial interest is in serious disagreement with the legalization of LGBTQ in the country.

Special investigations by this author show that the issue is being transferred from the presidency to the majority sided-MPs, who are being coached to present a united front in their discussions with cogent and convincing reasons why LGBTQ should be legalized. It’s one of the mastery trickery to absolve the President from any possible flak by the citizenry.

It might then look and sound like the decision of the majority MPS has held the President in a fix and therefore the only action he could take is to assent the possible majority decision on the matter.

This writer gathered that it’s based on the stated conspiracy between the administration and its majority MPs in Parliament that the House Speaker, the Rt. Hon Alban Bagbin is insisting on an open and public voting when the issue gets to its concluding stage for Ghanaians to know which one or individual MPs that will vote against the anti-LGBTQ bill.

Again, the recent “fight” that the Majority Leader, Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu picked with the Hon Speaker where the Suame MP argued that Mr. Bagbin has no locus to cajole members to vote in a certain direction, is convincing enough the possible pro-position of the majority group on the LGBTQ matter.

For now, every Ghanaian is waiting with bated breath which side of the House wins the public or secret voting. Whichever way the decision goes, Ghanaians will definitely know the against or pro LGBTQ MPs on the controversial bill. 

By: R. Keelson

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