On Thursday 17th February, IDNOWA founder and Executive Director, Davis Mac-Iyalla, addressed the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of the Ghanaian Parliament about the proposed Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill 2021. You can watch the session via GBC youtube channel Davis starts his speech at 32 minutes.
Davis addressed the committee in a clear and appropriate manner. Pointing out the following:-
Violence against Ghanaian Citizens
This Bill codifies into law a spirit of mob violence and vigilantism that already stalks many parts of our land.
In recent years, sexual minorities in Ghana have been attacked by mobs, subjected to sexual assault, and subjected to intimidation and extortion. Human rights organizations have documented dozens of beatings, and arrests of sexual minority people in Ghana in the past seven years. Sexual minorities suffer entrapment and blackmail on social media. They are subjected to sexual assault, and subjected to intimidation and extortion.
For instance, “in August 2015 in Nima, Accra, a young man was allegedly brutally assaulted by members of a vigilante group known as Safety Empire, simply because they suspected he was gay. In May 2016 in a village outside Kumasi in the Ashanti region, the mother of a young woman organized a mob to beat up her daughter because she suspected the young woman was a lesbian. The girl and her friend were forced to flee from the village. … One woman said that when her family heard that she was associating with LGBT people, they chased her out of the house with a machete; since then, she has not been able to go back home to visit her two-year-old daughter. Another woman from Kumasi said that when her family suspected she was a lesbian, they took her to a prayer camp where she was severely beaten over a period of one month.” A young man from Kumasi told human rights monitors “that in 2016 he was raped by a man he had met on social media, but did not report the rape to the police out of fear that he would be arrested for having ‘gay sex’.”[i]
Sexual minorities in Africa are no strangers to hatred and violence. For their human rights work with sexual minorities, David Kato was murdered in Uganda; Fanny Eddy was murdered in Sierra Leon. This Bill enshrines hatred into law. It will increase stigma towards those who are viewed as different or non-conforming. It will legitimize hatred from neighbours, strangers, and police officers, and even from people within one’s own family. Meanwhile, the Ghanaian parents who I speak to are worried for their LGBTI children. They fear for the safety of their daughters and sons. Honourable Members, the law in Ghana already expresses the majority view of Ghanaians: that the sexual affection between males should be seen as a misdemeanour. This Bill only stigmatizes our fellow citizens and penalizes those who love and support them. It will instigate more violence. It will cause more social division when Ghanaians should be coming together to confront multiple crises: like COVID, debt, climate change, and regional instability. It will only inflame emotions, and deepen divisions.
Respect for Sexual Diversity
Respect for gender diversity and sexual diversity has been part of our African heritage since long before European culture was imposed on the peoples of Western Africa. For example, among the Igbo, women have taken on male leadership roles for many centuries; they can even become ‘male daughters’ and ‘female husbands’ if the need should arise. Among the Ashanti, men did not used to be stigmatized for dressing as women or for being intimate with each other. Among the Fante, one might desire women or men, according to the type of soul one was born with. Among the Nzima, same-gender attraction was unremarkable, and ‘friendship-marriages’ included dowries and festival banquets. To this day, the Nankani practice woman-to-woman marriage; and Dagaaba spiritual leaders respect same-sex attraction. Scholars and theologians from across the world, and from right here in Ghana, have documented these cultural norms.[i]
Respect for gender diversity and sexual diversity remains hotly debated among Christian and Muslim scholars. There are arguments over monogamy and polygamy. There are arguments over the correct interpretation of Scripture, tradition, and Hadith. Many Christians argue in favour of accepting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex people on the basis of Biblical texts; others quote the Bible to condemn them. Many Muslims argue in favour of accepting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex people on the basis of Islamic principles and of numerous fatwas; others claim that Islam condemns sexual minorities.
We propose that respect for gender diversity and sexual diversity is the real family value that we must defend. Many family members believe that their children are a gift. One mother said to me, “Should I hang my son because he looks feminine? My child is a gift from God, and I accept my child in whichever way he turns out.”
African cultures value love and connection; we used to hold hands, we used to walk arm-in-arm. Today, friends and family think twice about expressing affection, for fear of being called lesbian or gay. This Bill seeks to impose a narrow vision of family and of gender-correctness that is neither African, nor Ghanaian, nor universally recognized by Christians and Muslims. It is a vision that came to us in the colonial era, and that conservative Christians have decided to embrace. Perhaps it is God’s vision, and perhaps it is not.
Is this a question for Parliament to decide?
[i] These include Marc Epprecht, an award-winning Canadian scholar who writes about ecology, economic development, and sexual health in former British colonies on the African continent; Rose Mary Amenga-Etego, Associate Professor in Religious Studies at the University of Ghana; and Mercy Amba Oduyoye, a Ghanaian Methodist scholar who is the current director of the Institute of African Women in Religion and Culture at Trinity Theological Seminary in Ghana, and is considered to be one of the leading Protestant theologians in Africa.
The Dignity of LGBTI Persons
The LGBTI citizens of Ghana insist that “there should be nothing about us, decided without us.” LGBTI persons deserve to be heard as this law is discussed and debated.
Some who advocate persecuting LGBTI people claim that sexual minorities are sexual predators, or that there is a link between LGBTI identity and paedophilia. This kind of lie must be called out as false. LGBTI people are not sexual predators. For example, the latest data from Ghana, in 2019, show that over 90% of cases of gang rape, incest, and sexual abuse perpetrated by male ministers of religion, were perpetrated on females by males. Sexual abuse in Ghana is a heterosexual problem.
True religion calls us to love, mercy, and compassion. As St. Paul teaches us, ‘Love is patient, [and] love is kind. … It does not dishonour others, … it is not easily angered, … it rejoices in the truth.’ As the Holy Qur’an teaches us, Allah is first and foremost ‘Compassionate’ and ‘Merciful.’
We believe that “every person is precious,” and that “the measure of every” law must be “whether it threatens or enhances the life and dignity” of each person within the society.
 We believe that everyone should love their neighbour – no exceptions for LGBTI.
 Quarshie, E.NB., Davies, P.A., Acharibasam, J.W. et al. Clergy-Perpetrated Sexual Abuse in Ghana: A Media Content Analysis of Survivors, Offenders, and Offence Characteristics. J Relig Health (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10943-021-01430-3
 US Conference of Catholic Bishops.