In recent years, the LGBTQ+ community has gained a lot of ground in the ultimate fight towards equality and acceptance in the U.S.. During President Biden’s campaign, promises were made to ensure the protection and societal progress for all members of the LGBTQ+. Many would say that Biden has delivered on his promise.
However, this does not appear to be the reality for some of our neighboring countries. In places like Ghana, known as the first country in Africa to gain their independence, a bill has been brought to life sentencing citizens up to five years in prison and torture in the form of “conversion therapy” for any members of the LGBTQ community.
According to GLAAD, conversion therapy is any attempt to change a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. These practices are often dangerous to a person's physical and mental health and are especially harmful to minors. Nonetheless, countless studies have been done in regards to the effectiveness of conversion therapy. Today we know this practice has been widely discredited yet it continues to be weaponized in many places around the world.
Unfortunately, the bill does not stop at just members of the LGBTQ+ community. The bill also states that anyone who advocates for the LGBTQ+ community and shows support for intersex people can face up to 10 years in prison and the government could direct intersex people to receive “gender realignment” surgery, according to the draft legislation.
This bill not only attests to the homophobia that still runs rampant within the west African country, but essentially criminalizes one’s existence.
In an interview with Ghanian politician, Sam George, he discusses the purpose behind this bill stating, “It's a bill to promote proper human sexual rights and Ghanian family values.”
The proposed ordinance also requires that residents report any anyone who participates in homosexual acts or shows support for the cause, but it also calls for “flexible sentencing” for an individual who “openly recants and requests access to approved medical help”.
While Ghana specifically has been known for their disapproval of the LGBTQ+ community, this bill proposes some of the harshest anti-LGBTQ laws the African continent has ever seen.
Parliament has not yet appointed a committee to review the draft legislation and the bill will likely be subject to various amendments before it is passed.
In the meantime, it is our responsibility to aid in their fight to make sure this bill does not get passed. In 2021 alone, Ghana has seen an uprise in discrimination and crimes against the LGBTQ community and their allies. This bill simply makes it ok to do so.
The fight for equality does not stop at the U.S. border. As U.S. citizens, there’s certain privileges we have that fail to transcend throughout the rest of the world. We must be a voice for the voiceless and speak up against the violence that terrorizes the LGBTQ+ community in Ghana.
For those looking to lend a helping hand to our brothers and sisters in Ghana, a support fund has been created to aid the LGBTQ+ community in Ghana and create an LGBTQ+ Safe Space Community Center that will serve as an inclusive environment for those at risk.