1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Ghana's parliament passes anti-LGBTQ law

February 28, 2024

Under the new law, the promotion of rights of those who are lesbian, gay or other non-conventional sexual or gender identities in Ghana is punishable by up to five years in prison.

Two Ghanaian women hold Ghanaian flags
Under the new law, the promotion of LGBTQ rights is punishable by up to five years in prison.Image: Kwame A. Amenortor/Anadolu/picture alliance

Ghana's parliament passed a bill on Wednesday that further clamps down on the rights of LGBTQ people in the West African country.

The "Human Sexual Rights and Family Values" bill enjoys support from a majority of lawmakers in Accra and has been sponsored by a coalition of Christian, Muslim, and Ghanaian traditional leaders.

Same-sex intercourse in Ghana was already punishable by up to three years in prison, but while discrimination against LGBTQ people is common, no one has ever been prosecuted under the colonial-era law.

The new bill, commonly referred to as the anti-gay bill, now also imposes a prison sentence of up to five years for the "wilful promotion, sponsorship, or support of LGBTQ+ activities."

The bill has been sent to the president's desk to be signed into law. Opposition lawmaker Sam George, the main sponsor of the bill, called on President Nana Akufo-Addo to approve it. 

"There is nothing that deals with LGBTQ better than this bill that has been passed by parliament," George said. "We expect the president to walk his talk and be a man of his words."

The bill has been widely condemned by rights activists and still has to be validated by the president before entering into law, a move observers believe is unlikely before an election in December. President Akufo-Addo has not confirmed if he will sign the bill into law.

'You cannot criminalize a person's identity'

Members of Ghana's LGBTQ community are worried about the implications of the bill and an umbrella group of lawyers and human rights activists in Ghana known as the "Big 18" has condemned it.

"You cannot criminalize a person's identity and that's what the bill is doing and it's absolutely wrong," said Takyiwaa Manuh, a member of the coalition. "We want to impress on the president not to assent to the bill, it totally violates the human rights of the LGBT community."

Founder and director of "LGBT+ Rights Ghana" Alex Donkor said the passing of this bill would "further marginalize and endanger LGBTQ individuals in Ghana."

"It not only legalizes discrimination but also fosters an environment of fear and persecution," he said. "With harsh penalties for both LGBTQ individuals and activists, this bill threatens the safety and well-being of an already vulnerable community."

UNAIDS executive director Winnie Byanyima said if the bill becomes law, it "will obstruct access to life-saving services, undercut social protection, and jeopardize Ghana's development success."

Amnesty International has said the proposed legislation "poses significant threats to the fundamental rights and freedoms of LGBT+ persons."

mf/sms (Reuters, AFP)