The Director-General of the Ghana Aids Commission, Mr Steve Atuahene, has told Parliament that if the anti-gay bill is passed in its current form, it is going to push away financiers of HIV response programmes in Ghana.
He told the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs on Thursday November 11 during the first sitting to consider the memos presented by the public on the bill that, “Donor funding for the HIV response covers HIV and TB service for men who have sex with men and transgenders. These health services have nothing to do with the activities the bill seeks to proscribe.
“If the bill is passed in its current form donors will withdraw their funding if they are criminalized by this bill. HIV programme is largely funded by donors and the withdrawal of their funds will certainly jeopardize the HIV response.”
Meanwhile, a member of the committee Madam Ursula Owusu Ekuful, has said the will go through changes before passage.
The Member of Parliament for Ablekuma West explained during the first public sitting of the committee to deliberate on the memos that, just as with all other bills that eventually get passed by Parliament go through reviews, the anti-gay bill will also be subjected to the same treatment.
It is highly possible that the bill will not be the same after passage, she said.
She further asked the Pentecostal and Charismatic Council (PCC), to rephrase their memo that was presented to Parliament on the bill.
The Minister of Communications noted that the memo which was presented on behalf of the PCC by Apostle Ofori Kurago, called on parliamentarians to be mindful of the electorate when making contributions to the discussion.
But in her view, this amounts to ‘veiled threat’ directed at the lawmakers.
“You seem to issue a veil threat to the parliamentarians who have to be mindful if the electorate in the work that we are doing and in your assertion that this will be one of the most important pieces of legislation that this house will consider.
“But this process would also result in significant changes to the bill and so the bill as we have seen it now , as with all processes of the passage of legislation in this house , the bill that is introduced is not the one that is eventually passed into law . So if you are telling us that that you support his bill as it is, that we should do our work mindful of the people out there then you are hampering us the free expression in the performance of our duties as members of Parliament and so I will entreat you to rephrase that because it didn’t come across to is well. It is as if you are telling us to be mindful of what we are doing and that any changes might result in some attack or otherwise for us doing our works.”
The Committee commenced the public hearing on the memorandum received from the public on the anti-gay bill today Thursday November 11.
The Committee has stopped receiving additional memos on the bill.
The Ranking Member on the Committee, Bernard Ahiafor, told TV3’s Parliamentary correspondent Courage Komla Kluste in interview on Wednesday November 1o that “Those who submitted the memo would be invited to appear before the committee with their memo and justify the stand that they have taken. So, as usual, the LGBTQ bill which has been referred to the Constitution, Legal Committee of Parliament has generated a lot of interest as a result of the memoranda received so far.
“It is ranging between 140 and 150 so the committee is scheduled to start the stakeholders’ engagement effective tomorrow.
“I believe strongly, when they advertised the bill welcoming memorandum the time frame was given, that time frame has since long elapsed.
“Having regard to the nature and quality of the bill we relaxed the rule and then we have received memos up to last week.
“So, I believe since the committee is going to start work on the memo effective form tomorrow, from tomorrow I don’t think the clerk of the committee will received any further memo.”
It is recalled that Deputy Majority Leader in Parliament, Alexander Afenyo- Markin, projected that it would take the parliamentary committee 15 weeks, at least, to hear the 150 memoranda that have so far been presented as part of the move to pass the bill.
The Effutu lawmaker made this calculation having in mind the possibility of Parliament receiving more memoranda apart from the 150 already received.
He explained that each week, the committee has decided to consider 10 of the memoranda. That brings the calculation to fifteen weeks.
His comments come after his colleague Member of Parliament for Banda, Ahmed Ibrahim, had called on the House to carry along the nation as efforts are being made to pass the bill.
Speaking on the floor of the House Friday November 5, he said “On the issue of this LGBTQ , the committee has received about 150 memoranda I am well informed of steps they have taken so far They have met and programmed to hear them weekly and from next week they are starting.
“So if honourable Ibrahim Ahmed wants us to carry the nation along then per my calculation, if they are doing weekly we don’t know whether any more memoranda will come.
“Then it means that we are looking at fifteen weeks. Every week they are doing ten, 150 and they want to do ten a week. So it is important all those who have brought memoranda are heard. It is after that that they will now prepare their report and then come and we make progress.”
The Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill was laid in the House on Monday, August 2 and read for the first time.
Reading for the first time, a clerk in the legislative assembly stated that the Bill proscribes lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) and other related activities and propaganda or advocacy and promotion for same.
It also came to light that it supports protection for children and persons who are victims or accused of homosexuality.
Second Deputy Speaker Andrew Asiamah Amoako referred the Bill to the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Committee for consideration.
“For the first time, it is referred to the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for consideration and report,” Mr Asiamah Amoako, who is also the MP for Fomena, directed.
By Laud Nartey|3news.com|Ghana