Ghanaian church backs tougher sodomy laws

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Ghana House of Bishops with country's first lady April 30 2021

Religious leaders in Ghana have urged the government to enact legislation strengthening the West African nation’s sodomy laws. The Ghanaian parliament will debate this month the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill. The legislation comes as a push-back against EU lobbying for Ghana to adopt Western views on same-sex rights.

The proposed law would strengthen the penalties under Section 104 of the Ghanaian Criminal Code of 1960 which criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual acts between males. Under Section 104(1)(b), “unnatural carnal knowledge” with consent is considered a misdemeanour.  Section 104(2) defines “unnatural carnal knowledge” as “sexual intercourse with a person in an unnatural manner or with an animal.” The penalty for such acts under Article 296(4) of the Criminal Procedural Code, a misdemeanour shall be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years.

Under the new legislation unnatural carnal knowledge becomes a second class felony punishable by three to five years imprisonment. However, a judge is permitted to remit the penalty if the defendant “recants and requests access to an approved medical help or approved medical treatment.”

If further criminalizes anti-gay harrassment, making it a midsdeamor to abuse, assault or harrass a person accused of misconduct under the act. It provides for a penalty of from six months to three years imprisonment.

The impetus for the legislation came from the Ghanaian House of Chiefs which objected to foreign interference in the customs and cultural life of the nation. They cited the EU’s promotion of an LGBTQI+ advocacy center in Accra in January 2021. 

Ghana’s Christian Council, the Chief Imam, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference have voiced their support for the bill. Archbishop Cyril Ben-Smith of the internal Anglican Province of Ghana of the Church of the Province of West Africa released a letter last week with the support of the Ghanaian bishops urging adoption of the law.

The letter stated:

We, the House of Bishops representing the Anglican Church, Ghana (Internal Province of Ghana) have thrown our weight behind the anti-gay (LGBTQI+) Bill currently before the House of Parliament, Ghana. Our support is borne out of the belief that LGBTQI+ “is unbiblical and ungodly”.

We see LGBTQI+ as unrighteousness in the sight of God and therefore will do anything within our powers and mandate to ensure that the bill comes into fruition.

We further state that, aside Christianity, the Ghanaian tradition and culture do not permit such act. This is about morality today and that of the future generation yet unborn. We as leaders must leave a legacy everyone will be proud of. Christ- like legacy of hope. It will be recalled that earlier on in the year, (28th February 2021) during the enthronement of His Grace, the Most Reverend Dr. Cyril Kobina Ben-Smith as Archbishop of the Internal Province of Ghana, at the Cathedral Church of St. Michael and all Angels, AsanteMampong, His Excellency the President of Ghana in no uncertain terms, condemned this unholy act.

The Anglican Church, Ghana sees this homosexual practice as an act condemned by scriptures both in the Old and New Testaments. Leviticus 20:13 clearly declares that, a male lying with a fellow male is an abomination and punishable by death. Similarly, in the New Testament, Paul speaks of homosexuality as “contrary to sound doctrine” as recorded in 1 Timothy 1:10 ‘for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers–and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine’ It must be noted in our earlier declaration that, the church does not condemn persons of homosexuality tendencies but absolutely condemn the sinful acts and activities that they perform.

We therefore appeal to our members and the public not to embark on any form of harassment, intimidation, hostilities etc. on individuals or groups associated with LGBTQI+ but rather, see them as potential souls to be won for Christ.

We as a church assures that, we will gladly open our counselling and support centres for the needed transformation services required by these persons or groups. We further advocate for intense education on the Human Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill 2021 to avoid acts of emotionalism and sentimentality by our members and the general public.

We will consistently urge our members and the general public to join the church as it prays towards eliminating any impediments towards the realization of the bill. We are hopeful that the House of Parliament will listen to the cry of many Ghanaians who are anxious to see the bill passed. May God continue to bless our beautiful homeland Ghana and free us from all forms of unrighteousness.

The bill before Parliament can be viewed here: