Akoto Ampaw: Our memorandum is not to legalise same-sex marriage

A group of 18 prominent Ghanaian citizens has rejected the proposed anti-LGBTQI Bill, saying it “violates all the fundamental freedoms guaranteed by the 1992 constitution”

Akoto Ampaw, a member of the group of concerned citizens opposed to the anti-LGBTQI Bill, says the memorandum submitted to Parliament against the passage of the bill into law is not intended to legalise same-sex marriage.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday (27 October), Ampaw said, “It is mischievous for anyone to say that our group is for legalisation of same-sex marriage and we expect the media to challenge persons who deliberately or out of ignorance propagate such disinformation.”

Ampaw and 17 others, including Professor Emerita Takyiwaa Manuh, Professor Kwame Karikari, Professor Audrey Gadzekpo and Dr Kojo Asante, had submitted a memorandum to Parliament describing the anti-LGBTQI Bill laid before Parliament as “insignificant and unconstitutional” and calling for its rejection.

Deny ownership of debate

The anti-LGBTQI Bill, titled “The Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill 2021″, was submitted to Parliament in June this year. It seeks to push for LGBTQI people and those who advocate their rights to be fined and jailed for between three and five years or more for identifying with a person who has a sexual preference for partners of the same sex or whose self-defined gender is ambiguous or changeable.

Ampaw said it was disingenuous to discredit opposition to the anti-LGBTQI Bill as being informed by foreign interests, as this denied the legitimacy of domestic voices, which were “dissenting to the bigotry upon which the bill is based and suggested that only those in favour of the bill should qualify to be regarded as real Ghanaians”.

“We may do well to remember that some of the civil society voices calling for the protection of LGBTQI+ rights today have, in the past, championed other human rights that were not necessarily grounded in our culture or tradition, such as freedom of association and free media,” he said.

Selasi Tsegah, the executive director of the Human Rights Advocacy Centre, who is also a member of the group of 18, disputed arguments that homosexuality was a mental disorder that could be corrected by “conversion therapy”.

Speaking about the protection of children from sexual abuse, she said there was no need to single out homosexuals or to fan “hatred and opprobrium” against them as if they were the main predators and paedophiles, when crime statistics from the Ghana Police Service proved otherwise.

Professor Emerita Manuh asked that homosexuals and heterosexuals alike be punished if they molested children, adding that it was unfair to focus such attention on homosexuals.

“The truth is, homosexuals are not asking for marriage or anything from Parliament and they are not hurting anyone, so let’s just leave them alone,” she urged.

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