LGBTQI: Emotions have no place in lawmaking – Prof Takyiwaa Manuh to clergy

Emotions and personal sentiments have no role to play in the making of laws in Ghana, an academic and a member of the group of 18 professionals who are opposed to the anti-gay bill that is currently before Parliament, Prof Emerita Takyiwaa Manuh, has said.

She noted that the bill has been characterized by strong emotions and personal views especially from the church.

In her view, the church has taken an entrenched position on the bill because they believe they have the numbers to push their way through. However, she added, this issue is not about who has the numbers and who does not.

It is about what the 1992 constitution says regarding the making of laws, she stressed.

She further described the current bill as ‘obnoxious’ and ‘heinous’.

Prof Takyiwaa Manuh said while speaking on the Key Points show on TV3 Saturday November 13 regarding their memo and submissions before the committee that is handling the bill that, “We know that this has been a very emotive issue especially from the church who talk about their numbers and how many more memos they could have brought.

“But the issue is not about numbers, it is not that the law does not take into account the values and sentiments of the people. Yet knowing all of this the framers insisted that both in Article 1 (1) and (2) and Article 93(2) that lawmaking making power must be exercised in accordance with the constitution.

“So we are not allowed to substitute our views, our emotions however widespread and popular for what the constitution says.

“The constitution has carefully set out a chapter on fundamental freedoms and rights of all persons including people who are not even Ghanaians but who live in Ghana. It does a very careful balancing act of setting out these freedoms and also the conditions under which those freedoms can be tampered with.”

She added “We were grateful that we were given a hearing, we believe that the committee was fair and listened to us carefully, asked us a lot of questions. We believe that they will take our submissions seriously and that it will assist them to come to a decision on this bill which is most heinous, most obnoxious and against all the tenets of the constitution which all Members of Parliament are sworn to up hold.

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“We know that the law is in the bosom of the of the judge, parliament is also is the ultimate lawmaker however, in making laws they have sworn to the oath that they took as Members of Parliament to uphold the constitution which lays down the procedure for making laws, it says laws ought to be made consistent with the provisions of the constitution.”

During the first sitting, a member of the committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, said the bill would go through changes.

The Member of Parliament for Ablekuma West explained during the first public sitting of the committee to deliberate on the memos that have been presented on the bill 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.”

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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 10 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.

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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||Ghana