The Anglican Church of Ghana has taken a small step back from its previously unfettered support for the country’s appalling anti-LGBTQI+ bill.
In October, it was reported that the House of Bishops representing the Anglican Church in Ghana said that “[we] have thrown our weight behind the anti-gay (LGBTQI+) Bill currently before the House of Parliament, Ghana.”
According to Church Times, the bishops have now issued a new statement that appears to reject further criminalising LGBTQI+ people.
“We… agree that, the criminalisation of sections of the bill are severe and must be reviewed. Rather we propose a transformational agenda,” said the Bishops.
They also said: “Ghanaian citizens must not use the bill as an avenue to assault persons with homosexual orientation but show love to them as the Church of Jesus Christ is called to demonstrate the love of God by protecting all vulnerable people and groups. Acts of harassment, intimidation, and hostilities against LGBTQ+ people should be condemned.”
Nevertheless, the clerics did not reject the bill outright and they made it clear that they do not approve of homosexuality, painting it as intrinsically unGhanaian.
“We agreed that, though human dignity is always dominant, LGBTQI+ activities are frowned upon by the Ghanaian ethnicity and therefore, traditions, values, cultural and social frameworks must not also only be regarded but, respected and appreciated,” they said.
The Bishops added: “Generally, we, as a Church in Ghana, seek to strengthen Ghanaian family life by promoting Human Sexual Rights that is supported and accepted by Ghanaian family values.”
Late last year, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and around 20 LGBTQI+ members of the General Synod of the Church of England spoke out against the Anglican Church of Ghana’s support for the bill. Welby later apologised for making the criticism without first speaking to the bishops.
If passed, the bill – known as the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill – will not only criminalise all LGBTQI+ people but will also make it illegal to advocate for LGBTQI+ rights in any way with up to ten years in prison.
The bill would further outlaw any medical gender affirmation treatment, gay adoption and same-sex marriage, as well as banning any transgender person from getting married.
Under Ghana’s Criminal Code, consensual same-sex sexual relations are already criminalised with up to three years in prison.
This week, the government was warned by the Centre for Democratic Governance that Ghana’s economy could suffer if the bill is passed by parliament as that would likely affect donor funding that the country relies on.