Thursday, May 16

US Ambassador to Ghana Stands up for LGBTQ Rights

U.S. Ambassador to Ghana, Virginia E. Palmer makes plea for Ghana’s LGBTQ+ community as the country prepares to pass new anti-LGBTQ bill. In an interview with Accra based Joy News, she also clarified what the Biden administration’s motives are for criticizing the legislation. “We don’t want your straight Ghanaian children to be gay, we want your gay children to be safe,” Palmer said. This after locals have claimed that the U.S. is seeking to promote homosexuality in the country due to the Biden administrations’ public critique of the new legislation. 

While “same-sex conduct” already is illegal, a bill was introduced in 2021 that if passed, would make Ghana one of the strictest anti-LGBTQ countries in the world. The legislation proposes 5-year prison sentences for people who identify as LGBTQ+, engage in gay relationships, or intend to marry someone that has undergone gender reaffirming surgery. “Cross-dressing,” or dressing in any way that doesn’t seemingly coincide with cis-gender societal norms, will also become a prosecutable offense. 

What makes the bill even more chilling is how it criminalizes activism and public support for the LGBTQ+ community. If passed, “allies” to the community would be prosecuted and face up to five years in prison. Groups or people that are seen supporting acts or identities that are prohibited in the bill would face up to 10 years in prison. Meaning that publicly supporting or advocating for the LGBTQ+ community will lead to more time in custody than merely being outed as LGBTQ+. A move that activists are calling an attempt to mute the countries’ pro-LGBTQ+ movement and its allies. 

Local activists are particularly concerned about a clause in the bill that would allow the government to recommend “corrective therapy,” or surgery to intersex people. How this would be enforced is still unclear. 

Citizens who are aware of “gay acts” and don’t report them could also face prosecution under the new law.

When asked about the bill last year, former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that Biden thinks that “LGBTQI rights are not only human rights here in the United States but they are around the world.” On Oct. 28, Ghana’s Parliament Speaker, Alban Bagbin said that the bill will be passed before the country’s next presidential election in 2024.

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