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Ghana Passes Bill Criminalizing LGBTQ+ Identification

The parliament in Ghana has passed a bill that imposes a maximum five-year jail term for forming or funding LGBTQ+ groups.

Lawmakers rejected attempts to replace prison sentences with community service and counseling.

This development underscores a growing opposition to LGBTQ rights in the conservative West African nation.

The bill, backed by Ghana’s two major political parties, awaits President Nana Akufo-Addo’s signature to become law. He previously stated he would sign it if the majority of Ghanaians supported it.

Gay sex is already illegal in Ghana, carrying a three-year prison sentence.

Amnesty International recently cautioned that the bill “poses significant threats to the fundamental rights and freedoms” of LGBTQ+ individuals.

Activists fear the bill will lead to witch hunts against LGBTQ+ members and rights campaigners, forcing some into hiding.

The head of the UN body addressing AIDS, Winnie Byanyima, echoed these concerns, warning that the bill could incite violence and undermine freedoms.

The bill proposes a jail term of up to 10 years for LGBTQ+ advocacy aimed at children and encourages the public to report LGBTQ+ individuals to authorities.

Lawmakers cited the opening of Ghana’s first LGBTQ+ community center in Accra in January 2021 as a reason for drafting the bill. The center was shut down by police following public protests and pressure from religious and traditional leaders.

The bill approved by lawmakers is a diluted version of an earlier draft, with shortened jail terms and the removal of a controversial clause on conversion therapy.

During the debate, Alexander Afenyo-Markin, the deputy parliamentary leader of the governing party, proposed further amendments, suggesting a vote to determine whether LGBTQ+ individuals should be imprisoned or subjected to community service and counseling. However, he faced opposition from lawmakers supporting prison sentences.

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