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Jail terms for gay, lesbians would promote sodomy in prison, says Ghana lawmaker

Jail terms for gay, lesbians would promote sodomy in prison, says Ghana lawmaker

A Ghanaian legislator has asked parliament to replace jail terms for gay sex with non-custodial sentences including counselling, saying the anti-LGBT bill currently making its way through the legislature would only encourage sodomy in prisons.

A coalition of Christian, Muslim, and Ghanaian traditional leaders have sponsored the legislation, which is favoured by most lawmakers and would punish the promotion of LGBT rights with up to 10 years in prison.

Gay sex is already punishable in Ghana by up to three years in prison.

Ruling-party lawmaker Alexander Afenyo-Markin said on Thursday that imprisoning people for LGBT offences would encourage sodomy in prisons and “worsen homosexuality and its promotion” in the West African nation, which he argued would defeat the bill’s original intent.

The bill, which was at its final stage before becoming law, also encourages those accused of homosexuality to submit to so-called conversion therapy, which claims to change sexual orientation, in exchange for reduced sentences.

Afenyo-Markin, deputy leader of the ruling party in parliament, said in a motion for parliament to amend aspects of the legislation that he was “all for the bill”, but that it must be reform-minded and humane.

He said that jail would be ineffective in addressing a “behavioural problem”.

The LGBT community in Ghana already faces abuse and hostility and discussion of the proposed bill has heightened fears, activists say.

While some MPs opposed the proposal to replace jail terms with non-custodial sentences, parliament voted for the bill to have another reading, where amendments can be made.

The bill requires presidential assent to be effective. “At the end of the process, I will come in,” President Nana Akufo-Addo said last year, without specifying if he would sign it or not.

Promoters want the bill, seen as one of the harshest in Africa towards the LGBT community, passed by March.

The United Nations said in 2021 the law would create “a system of state-sponsored discrimination and violence” against sexual minorities.

In May 2023, Uganda signed one of the world’s toughest anti-LGBT laws, including the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality”. Activists said it unleashed a wave of abuse against the LGBT community, while the World Bank suspended new funding to the country.

 

REUTERS

 

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