Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame, has said that persons who are opposed to the activities of Lesbian Gay Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQI) people also have a right to voice out their concerns.
Speaking in an interview on Citi TV’s Point of View program with Bernard Avle, the Attorney General explained that individuals who oppose the activities of LGBTQI should feel free to voice out their concerns in the same way advocates of LGBTQ promote their activities.
Mr. Godfred Dame said that government’s official stance on LGBTQI is in line with the constitutional provisions on such activities and that is being enforced.
“Regarding the state’s position on LGBTQI, it is the laws of Ghana, which are being enforced, beyond that I am not aware of a situation whereby the state has meted out violence or the state has supported any infliction of violence against any person engaged in the activity.”
“The right to engage in LGBTQI activity which of course may be in the exercise of somebody’s fundamental human rights of free expression should also warrant that when a person has opposed the practice, that person should also be free to engage in the activity. So I deplore the situation where persons engaged in anti-LGBT activity are perceived to be backward. Once you have the right to advocate for the practice, someone also has the right to advocate against the practice.”
Speaking on the back of the arrest and subsequent granting of bail for some 21 persons who were arrested for unlawful assembly to promote LGBTQI activities, Mr. Dame explained that, the arrest made was not in relation to the sexuality of the suspects, but rather because they had converged from different parts of the country and had no reasons for their assembly.
He was of the view that the persons involved were arrested and charged with the offence of “unlawful assembly”.
Mr. Godfred Dame also explained that the decision to refuse the bail was entirely the discretion of the judge, as the Attorney General department’s representative on the case did not even oppose the bail during the hearing.
“Firstly, I am not aware that the people arrested in Ho were arrested for an LGBT activity. What I am aware of, is that they were charged with the offence of unlawful assembly, and they were denied bail because the people had congregated, from various parts of the country. They hailed from various parts of the country; some from Bawku, Takoradi, the Eastern Region and they all congregated in Ho, and they couldn’t explain why they were in the room in the hotel, and they couldn’t explain the purpose and the reason why they were there.”
‘We did not infringe on the rights of 21 LGBTQI activists’ – State Attorney
The state attorney handling the case has already discounted suggestions that the state violated the rights of the 21 persons standing trial for promoting LGBTQI activities at Ho in the Volta Region.
The 21 had been in detention in Ho since their arrest on May 21, 2021, but were granted bail on Friday, June 11, by the Ho High Court 2 after several applications were denied.
Lawyers for the 21 have accused the state of abusing the rights of their clients, but State Attorney, Moses Ayini Asampua, at the time said they were treated lawfully.
LGBTQI rights in Ghana
Some persons have called for a specific law in Ghana to make homosexuality a criminal offence.
Although there are some provisions in the Criminal Code under which a homosexual can be prosecuted, especially for having intercourse with a partner, the belief is that a specific law must be enacted to declare homosexual relationships illegal.
Others have also called for a review of Ghana’s laws to be more accommodating of minority groups as many countries are decriminalizing homosexuality.
In February 2020 for instance, the then Speaker of Ghana’s Parliament, Prof. Mike Oquaye, warned the World Bank against homosexuality conditions in development assistance to Ghana.
Homosexuality won’t be legalized under Nana Addo – Presidency
In April 2018, the government rejected claims that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo had approved same-sex marriages in Ghana.
According to a statement from the presidency, President Akufo-Addo will not legalise such a relationship in Ghana — CNR