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Group threatens to head to Ghana’s Supreme Court if Akufo-Addo signs new anti-LGBTQ+ bill into law

February 29, 2024
Legal battle looms over anti-LGBTQ+ bill in Ghana

Proponents and opponents of Ghana's anti-+ bill are bracing themselves for a potential legal showdown. The Coalition of 18 civil society groups, known as the ‘Big 18', has expressed its intent to challenge the legislation in court if President signs it into law.

The ‘Big 18' argues that the bill infringes on Ghana's diverse cultural and religious landscape. The proposed legislation seeks to criminalize LGBTQI+ activities in the country, imposing penalties of up to three years in jail for individuals found guilty under the law, and five years for people found guilty of promoting such activities. The bill was unanimously passed by on February 28 after nearly three years of deliberation.

The legislation introduces prison sentences for individuals identifying as LGBTQ+ and imposes a maximum five-year jail term for forming or funding LGBTQ+ groups. Attempts to replace prison sentences with community service and counselling did not get the support of MPs during the parliamentary deliberations.

Audrey Gadzekpo, Board Chair of the Ghana Center for Democratic Development and a member of the coalition, emphasized their readiness to challenge the bill in court. However, Emmanuel Kwasi Bedzrah, Member of Parliament for West and a proponent of the bill, stated their preparedness for legal action.

“We are prepared since the inception of this bill in 2021. We've had so much opposition from the likes of Audrey Gadzekpo, Takyiwaa Manuh, Akoto Ampaw, and others who stood against this bill, including some advocates who think that this bill should not be passed. But thankfully we passed it,” Bedzrah asserted.

In an interview, Prof. Audrey Gadzekpo expressed disappointment that Parliament did not see good reason to reject the bill, likening it to colonial-era criminal libel laws. The ‘Big 18' intends to present their case to President Akufo-Addo, urging him not to assent to the passage of the anti-LGBTQ+ bill.

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