Ghana

You can’t use principles of cultural values to enact laws – CHRAJ boss on anti- LGBTQ+

SourceConnielove Mawutornyo Dzodzegbe

The Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Joseph Akanjolenur Whittal, is questioning what legislators were trying to achieve with the introduction and subsequent passage of the controversial anti-LGBTQ+bill.

According to him, the world is fast becoming a global village; therefore, enacting laws based on culture and tradition is retrogressive.

Speaking on Joy FM’s Top Story on February 29, he said “This thing that we are joking with if we don’t take time, it will boomerang in our face and the signals are coming. So, is it worth the so-called values that we are thinking of in a globalised world?”he quizzed.

On Wednesday, February 28, after three years, Parliament passed the controversial bill that criminalises what proponents of the bill describe as deviant behaviour and its promotion.

This news has instilled fear in the LGBTQ+ community as it puts their lives at risk.

However, Mr Whittal has assured them that they are safe as long as the bill is not assented to by the President, so they should feel secure.

The bill 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.

The Commissioner appealed to the President not to approve the bill, considering his background in human rights.

“This bill is not a law, so it cannot be used against anybody. There are still processes to make it a law. That is why I am raising the challenge to the presidency to consider whether he shouldn’t exercise his right of rejection on the basis of constitutionality aired against human rights. If it makes it through him, and if he also assents, I know there is a bunch of people who are ready to challenge the constitutionality of this bill before the Supreme Court.”

“It is early days yet. I will advice them, they should hold on. While all these things are working out, I have confidence that somewhere along the line something will shift.

“We cannot just use the principle of our cultural values and throw all of us under the bus. We need to be very careful as a people,” he added.

In a rebuttal on the same show, the lead sponsor of the bill, Sam George, disagreed with Commissioner Whittal’s views.

According to him, the Commissioner has a job because of the Ghanaian constitution; therefore, for him to speak as though he was employed by an international institution is misguided.

The Ningo Prampram MP argued that with the position adopted by the Commissioner of CHRAJ, it proves that he will be unfit to sit on any LGBTQ+ case brought to his outfit.

“When he speaks in a manner that is even prejudicial before a matter will come to him, it will not be fit for him to sit on any matter involving this bill.”

“His position on this bill from presenting memoranda against the bill all the way to public advocacy against the bill makes him unfit to sit as a Commissioner of CHRAJ on any petition that will come there because he already has a prejudiced position. His argument on human rights on this network is that some international human rights person said that sexual preference is a human right.

“He did not state what law that person used and whether that law takes precedence over the constitution that created CHRAJ, that gave him a job,” he added.

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