We’re ready to face ‘Big 18’ in court – Anti-LGBTQ+ bill proponents on threats of legal action

Proponents of the Proper Human Sexual Rights and Family Values bill say they are prepared to face off in court with the Coalition of 18 Civil Society Groups, who are considering legal action if President Akufo-Addo signs the Anti-LGBTQ+ bill into law.

The Coalition, also known as the ‘Big 18’, kicked against the legislation, arguing that it infringes on Ghana’s diverse cultural and religious landscape.

The bill aims to criminalize LGBTQI+ activities in Ghana, with penalties of up to 3 years in jail for individuals and 5 years for promoters of such activities.

The anti-LGBTQ+ bill was unanimously passed by Parliament on February 28, after nearly three years of deliberation.

It imposes a prison sentence of up to three years for anyone convicted of identifying as LGBTQ+. It also imposes a maximum five-year jail term for forming or funding LGBTQ+ groups.

MPs frustrated attempts to replace prison sentences with community service and counselling.

Board Chair of the Ghana Center for Democratic Development and a member of the Coalition, Audrey Gadzekpo emphasised their readiness to challenge the bill in court.

However, the Member of Parliament for Ho West, a proponent of the bill said they are ready for the court action.

“We are prepared since the inception of this bill in 2021. We’ve had so many opposition from the lives of Audrey Gadzekpo, Takyiwaa Manuh, Akoto Ampaw and the rest who stood against this bill including some advocates who think that this bill should not be passed. But thankfully we passed it,” Emmanuel Kwasi Bedzrah said.

He added that “in any case, we are prepared.

In an interview with JoyNews, Prof Audrey Gadzekpo, said the groups will make presentations to President Akufo-Addo not to assent to the passage of the anti-LGBTQ+ bill.

She expressed disappointment that with all the opportunities Ghana had when the bill was proposed, Parliament did not see good reason to decide that such a bill did not fit into the country’s democracy.

“It’s an obnoxious bill. It’s kind of like criminal libel, which the colonialists introduced, and we retained it. And it was used improperly against people, including journalists. We will come to find that this is like that,” she said.

SourceKenneth Awotwe Darko

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