|Stephane Tchakam, Charge de Communication Pan Africa ILGA|
According to the Ghana News Agency, President John Evans Atta Mills remarked that the government would not decriminalise homosexuality and LGBTI persons should "stop the practice."
The President made his remarks at a festival with the theme, “Promoting Our Cultural Heritage to Eradicate Social Vices.” He characterised homosexuality as "dehumanizing" and "inimical to the fundamental human rights of people."
President John Evans Atta Mills has stated that the Government would not legalize the practice of homosexuality and lesbianism in the country.
The President said the Government would not encourage anything that goes against the culture of the country and cautioned homosexuals and lesbians to stop the practice.
President Mills made the statement in a speech read for him by Mr Alexander Asum-Ahensah, Minister for Culture and Chieftaincy Affairs at a durbar to mark the celebration of the Odambea Festival of the people of Nkusukum Traditional Area at Saltpond at the weekend.
The theme for the festival was, “Promoting Our Cultural Heritage to Eradicate Social Vices”.
President Mills said the theme was very appropriate considering the prevailing moral decline in the Ghanaian society today.
He said it was often said that when people lost their culture they had lost their identity.
“Our moral values are greatly threatened by our desperate pursuit of materialism as a measure of progress in society; as caution is thrown to the wind as we go to great length to do anything to achieve and satisfy these wanton desires”, he said.
He said drug abuse, armed robbery, child prostitution, homosexuality, lesbianism as well as rape, defilement and other sex-related crimes were on the increase to day, attesting to the high rate of immorality prevalent in the society.
President Mills called on Nananom, as custodians of the nation’s rich cultural values to work closely with other opinion leaders in their traditional areas and partner the State institutions responsible for youth development to evolve strategies to address those social vices in the society.
He urged them to discard any form of obsolete and dehumanizing customary practices which were inimical to the fundamental human rights and self development of the people.
The Coalition Against Homophobia in Ghana (CAHG) recently denounced "sensationalist, unfounded, and bigoted attacks against LGBT Ghanaians."
CAHG vehemently denounces these types of sensationalist, unfounded, and bigoted attacks against LGBT Ghanaians, who are brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, daughters and sons of Ghanaian families just like any other Ghanaians. LGBT people are in every conceivable walk of life and have existed throughout history. Contrary to unsubstantiated and speculative remarks that homosexuals are “evil”, “filthy”, and “ungodly”, LGBT people are our family members, co-workers, worshippers, taxpayers, voters, media people, pastors and lovers who deserve the same rights and protection under the Ghanaian Constitution as anyone else.
Unfortunately, a few people with religious, political, and institutional power continue to use their privilege to perpetuate hate and violence against homosexuals with the support of the criminal code 1960, Act 29, which criminalizes “unnatural carnal knowledge”--ironically a “western” concept imported to Ghana during British colonization of the country. If these anti-homosexual forces care about the future of Ghana, then the coalition calls on them to do something about issues that actually pose a threat to Ghana’s future such as poverty, women’s rights, class inequalities, environmental destruction, educational rights, and job opportunities. Addressing such issues would be more productive for the country than utilizing fear- mongering tactics to divide Ghanaian people from their LGBT family members and colleagues.
Ironically, President Mill's remarks contribute directly to the cultural hostility acknowledged by Ghana's Vice President as a key of driver of HIV infection. H. E. John Dramani Mahama told the UN 2011 High-Level Meeting on AIDS in June 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."
After months of homophobic reporting in Ghana's media culminating in the Western Region Minister's threat to arrest all LGBTI persons, far fewer MSM are accessing safe sex education and support programmes. The situation in Ghana clearly demonstrates the connection between respecting the human rights of the LGBTI community and stopping the spread of HIV.
At the UN 2011 High-Level Meeting on AIDS, Vice President H. E. John Dramani Mahama made another important point. "Sixty-five percent of men having sex with men are also bisexual and therefore could create multidirectional spread."
This impacts everyone in Ghana.