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Anti-gay vs. gay-friendly religion go head-to-head in Ghana

Report by Colin Stewarthttps://76crimes.com/2022/03/13/anti-gay-vs-gay-friendly-religion-go-head-to-head-in-ghana/

The Presbyterian Church of Ghana has come out in favor of harsh penalties for public displays of same-sex affection and for anyone who supports LGBTQ rights — harsher penalties than those in Ghana’s controversial anti-LGBTQ bill currently awaiting action in Parliament. As soon as the church announced its position, it was promptly disputed by the LGBTQ-friendly Interfaith Diversity Network of West Africa (IDNOWA).

Dr. Rev. Benzies Isaac Adu-Okeree, chairman of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, testifies on March 10 before the Parliament’s Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, which is studying the anti-LGBTQ bill. (Screen capture courtesy of My Joy Online)

Under Ghana’s current laws, consensual same-sex intimacy is punishable by up to three years in prison. In addition to many other homophobic provisions, the anti-LGBTQ bill would increase that punishment to three to five years in prison.

The bill would also make it a crime to work to establish LGBTQ rights (in the words of the bill, “encouraging or promoting … any activity that undermines the proper human sexual rights and Ghanaian family values stipulated in the Bill.”  The punishment would be two to four months in prison.

Further, the bill would demand a six- to 12-month prison sentence for public displays of same-sex affection.

The Presbyterian Church argued for passage of the anti-LGBTQ bill, but said that some of its provisions are too lenient.  In every case, the church says, the minimum sentence should be three years.

Davis Mac-Iyalla, chief executive of IDNOWA, testified against the bill at a previous hearing of the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.

In response to the Presbyterian Church’s remarks on March 10, Mac-Iyalla said, “I still don’t understand which God is leading the Ghana Presbyterian Church to believe that the far-reaching anti-LGBTIQ Bill is not bad enough and calls for hasher law.”

Below are Mac-Iyalla’s responses to the statements made to the committee by Dr. Rev. Benzies Isaac Adu-Okeree, chairman of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana.

Adu-Okeree told the committee that extended sentences are “needed to deter unacceptable behaviours that are injurious to the common good of society.”

Mac-Iyalla said, “True religion calls us to love, mercy and compassion. Love does not dishonor others.”

Adu-Okeree said that homosexuality is taboo both in Christianity and in traditional Ghanaian culture.

Mac-Iyalla said, “That is false. There are different beliefs about marriage, gender and sexual ethics among Christians, among Muslims and among traditional religious communities. This is true throughout Ghana, I believe straight or gay are made by God and none is taboo. Neither is homosexuality.

Adu-Okeree implied that homosexuality is like incest and bestiality.

Mac-Iyalla said, “Homosexuals are not created in labs, they are natural. It’s only when you allow incestuous reproduction that you have actual moral issues.”

Adu-Okeree said, “The practice and the promotion of [LGBTQ people] is in complete conflict of the teachings of Our Lord Jesus Christ and against the values and norms of the Ghanaian culture.”

Mac-Iyalla said, “As a Bible-believing Christian, I disagree, Genesis Chapter 1 describes God’s act of creation. I know from the Scriptures, and from scientific discovery, how endlessly diverse God’s creation has been.”

Adu-Okeree said that allowing the [LGBTQ] community’s activities “to fester” … “puts the human race’s natural existence in jeopardy.”

Mac-Iyalla said, “The Book of Leviticus contains list of forbidden behaviors, some of which are called abominations. These are rules about what counts as kosher, similar to the Muslim laws of halal and haram, They should not be the basis for Ghanaian secular laws.”

Reports about Adu-Okeree’s testimony came from Freedom Radio GH and My Joy Online.

The full article can be found here -: https://76crimes.com/2022/03/13/anti-gay-vs-gay-friendly-religion-go-head-to-head-in-ghana/

Blog, Press

Anti-LGBTQI bill is trying to codify into law spirit of mob action, violence and vigilantism

Myjoyoline.com reports on Davis Mac-Iyalla, Executive of IDNOWA, recently addressing The Ghanaian Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee on the proposed Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill 2021. myjoyonline.com

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IDNOWA Presentation to Parliament, Thursday 17 February 2022

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.


[i] https://www.hrw.org/report/2018/01/08/no-choice-deny-who-i-am/violence-and-discrimination-against-lgbt-people-ghana

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.[1]

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.


[2] We believe that everyone should love their neighbour – no exceptions for LGBTI.

[1] 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

[2] US Conference of Catholic Bishops.