|Stephane Tchakam, Charge de Communication Pan Africa ILGA|
Ghana's President John Evans Atta Mills chastised the media on Tuesday for reporting that he "would institute measures to check the menace of homosexuality and lesbianism."
He allegedly made the statement at the Sunyani Central Ebenezer Presbyterian Church last Sunday (See 7/12/2011 post). It is time for the Mills administration to come out in support for LGBTI human rights as a critical step to stopping the spread of HIV in Ghana.
President Mills was said to have personally telephoned the Acting Editor of the Ghanaian Times to reprimand him over a recent publication in the state-owned newspaper of the raging homosexual issue, even though the story was originally a Ghana News Agency story.
According to sources at the Castle, the President called Charles Neequaye because he was not happy about the paper’s Tuesday July 12, 2011 banner headline, “We’ll stop the Gays – President”.
The news article, which had no by-line, quoted the President as saying that the government would institute measures to check the menace of homosexuality and lesbianism from gaining grounds within the social fabric of the country. However, his denial of the story on Tuesday raised questions about his position on homosexuality.
At a thanksgiving service on Sunday at the Sunyani Central Ebenezer Presbyterian Church of Ghana, after the President’s resounding victory over former First Lady Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings in the NDC national delegates’ congress in Sunyani, the Minister-In-Charge of the church, Rev. Joseph Bosoma took advantage of the President’s visit to table four pressing social issues which in the view of the church, needed to be tackled by the government.,,
The Ghanaian Times had no option but to retract the story and apologize to President Mills in its Wednesday July 13, 2011 issue...
Meanwhile, the Minister-In-Charge of Sunyani Central Ebenezer Presbyterian Church of Ghana, Rev Joseph Bosoma, has stated that President Mills at the said church service promised to do something about the homosexuality menace in Ghana.
Rev Joseph Bosoma told Daily Guide on Thursday that President Mills however did not categorically mention that he was going to enact laws to outlaw homosexuality which is creeping into the Ghanaian society.
“He only promised that he will do something about it when I raised the issue before him. But as to what he was going to do he did not mention it here,” Rev Bosoma told Daily Guide.
The reverend minister further stated that the President however issued a strongly-worded statement against the menace and further assured the congregants that he would do something about it. “The entire church was happy because the President responded positively to my request,” he added.
The Vice President of Ghana, H. E. John Dramani Mahama, told the recent UN 2011 High-Level Meeting on AIDS that MSM (men who have sex with men) must be included in Ghana's approach to fighting HIV/AIDS. He acknowledged that "cultural hostility to this group makes it most unwilling to disclose this sexual orientation."
Both the World Health Organisation and the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) have called for for measures to be put in place to address human rights, legal barriers and homophobia in HIV response.
It is time for the Mills administration to come out in support for LGBTI human rights as a critical step to stopping the spread of HIV in Ghana.