The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has cautioned Parliament to tread cautiously on the anti-LGBT AI bill currently before it for consideration.
CHRAJ says although they are not speaking for or against the bill, there were some fundamental issues that parliament must consider on the bill.
CHRAJ represented by its boss Joseph Whittal at the committee hearing on the bill, today, Monday, November 29, 2021, said parliament could be going for an overreach on some of the provisions of the bill.
Mr. Whittal expressed worry that the bill seeks to criminalize the advocacy of LGBTQI activities and the attempt to jail advocates is a breach of the fundamental rights of the advocates to free speech and free expression.
The freedom of association, the freedom of expression and freedom of the media he explained are fundamental human rights issues but the bill seeks to criminalize the advocacy of LGBTQI meaning that persons who would push back against the bill could face a jail term.
This he opined is problematic and the parliament of Ghana must be guided by that.
He said the bill and its contents seek to deprive members of the LGBTQI community of an opposing view which is guaranteed in our laws.
He told the Eighteen-Member Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of Parliament that the Constitution of Ghana is premised on the principles of fundamental human rights and it must be obeyed.
He said LGBTQI persons must not be left behind and leaving them behind is against the Sustainable Development Goals which we are signatories to.
He noted that the bill could be sent to the Supreme Court and challenged if it is passed with some of the contents he had raised issues about.
He supported calls for section 104 of the Criminal Code to be amended if we want to deal with these issues and if there were limitations with the provision.
He further argued that the aspect of the bill which seeks to jail offenders is not proper.
The prisons in Ghana he lamented were already full and proposing jail terms for LGBTQI persons is not the best.
The Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill, 2021 which was introduced to the House in July 2021 underwent its First Reading by Parliament on Monday 2nd August, 2021.
The proposed legislation which aims to provide for proper human sexual rights and Ghanaian family values seeks to restrict LGBTQ+ communities and any activities related to them.
The new Bill would go much further, criminalising the promotion and funding of LGBTQ+ activities as well as public displays of affection, cross-dressing and more, while campaigning for LGBTQ+ persons on social media or online platforms is also prohibited under the Bill.
The Bill further seeks to provide for protection of and support for children, persons who are victims or accused of LBBTTQQIAAP+ and related activities and other persons and related matters while people advocating the rights of these sexual minorities will also be penalized.
Proponents of the Bill want the promotion, advocacy, funding, and acts of homosexuality to be criminalized in the country saying it is a world-class piece of legislation which should be a reference material for other Parliaments seeking to pass similar legislation.
The memorandum accompanying the Bill said the object of the Bill is to provide for proper human sexual rights and Ghanaian family values, proscribe LGBTQ+ and related activities, propaganda of, advocacy for or promotion of LGBTTQQIAAP+ and related activities.