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LGBTQ+ Bill Passed in Ghana’s Parliament 

Ghana’s parliament has approved a stringent new bill that criminalizes identifying as LGBTQ+, with offenders facing up to three years in prison. The legislation also imposes a maximum five-year jail term for forming or funding LGBTQ+ groups. Attempts to substitute prison sentences with community service and counseling were shouted down by lawmakers.

This move reflects increasing opposition to LGBTQ+ rights in the conservative West African nation. The bill, supported by Ghana’s major political parties, awaits President Nana Akufo-Addo’s signature to become law. Akufo-Addo has previously indicated he would sign it if the majority of Ghanaians supported it.

Homosexual activity is already illegal in Ghana, punishable by up to three years in prison. Amnesty International has criticized the bill, warning of significant threats to LGBTQ+ people’s fundamental rights and freedoms.

Activists fear the legislation will lead to witch-hunts against LGBTQ+ individuals and their supporters, forcing some to hide. The bill also proposes up to 10 years in jail for LGBTQ+ advocacy targeting children and encourages the public to report LGBTQ+ individuals for “necessary action.”

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The bill’s genesis lies in the opening of Ghana’s first LGBTQ+ community center in Accra in January 2021, subsequently shut down by police amid public protests and pressure from religious and traditional leaders. The Christian Council of Ghana and the Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council have deemed LGBTQ+ identity as incompatible with Ghanaian culture and family values.

The approved bill represents a toned-down version of an earlier draft, with shorter jail terms and the removal of a contentious clause on conversion therapy. During the debate, Alexander Afenyo-Markin, the deputy parliamentary leader of the governing party, suggested a secret ballot to decide whether convicted LGBTQ+ individuals should be imprisoned or undergo community service and counseling. However, his proposal was met with opposition from lawmakers supporting prison sentences.

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