Throw out anti-gay bill, it threatens not only gays but all – Yao Graham

The Executive Director of the Third World Network Africa, Dr Yao Graham, has said the anti-gay bill that is currently before Parliament should be thrown into the bin.

In his view, the bill poses a danger to, not only homosexuals, but all persons.

“We are arguing that, measured against those values, this bill falls down. Our constitution and the fact that we have accepted international human rights and norms, this bill falls down.

“At the beginning, this bill should not have even entered the list because of the charges of Article 108. They should throw it out quite early because of the charges it imposes,” he told TV3’s Dzifa Bampoh in an interview.

He further rejected the decision by the Speaker of Parliament Alban Bagbin that passing of the bill would be made public.

Dr Graham told Mr Bagbin that if the election that brought him into office had been done through public voting he would not have won the polls.

“The speaker became a speaker through a secret ballot, if it had been open ballot I dare say he won’t have been elected,” he said.

The private legal practitioner and former Editor of the defunct Public Agenda newspaper added “I am worried also about how the speaker is undermining both the dignity and the constitutional functions of the speaker.”

The Speaker Alban Bagbin had said that the sitting of the committee on the anti-gay bill which is currently before the House will be made public.

In his opening remarks as Parliament reconvened on Tuesday October 27, he said, “the seating of the Committee will be public and the decision of this House will be public. We will want to know where each Member of Parliament comes in.

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“I know Ghanaians are expectant and there are over hundred petitions before the Committee of Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. But we will try not allow any Filibustering of this bill. Because it is not only Africa, the whole-world is looking for the outcome of this bill.”

“In fact, it has assumed some different dimensions. For me, this is healthy for a maturing democracy like Ghana. It is important we allow various shapes of opinions to canvass their position on the bill. As Ghanaians, I want to plead that we accommodate the views of others on whatever perception they have and let’s maintain the peace that we have.

“It is a law that will take into consideration the richness of common sense, human decency, morality, fact and logic. At the end of the day it will be a law that will transform this country into something else,” he added.

This directive attracted criticisms from some Ghanaians including private legal practitioner, Mr Akoto Ampaw.

In the view of Mr Ampaw, the Speaker’s directive had nothing to do with Parliamentary procedure.

Rather, he asserted, it is meant to let the majority of Ghanaians who are opposed to homosexuality to use it as a benchmark for voting in the next general elections.

He said “It is for Members of Parliament to decide whether or not the Bill will be passed. I am sorry to say that this is a bait by the Speaker that everybody votes in public so that Ghanaians will see whether  they stand. It is a political  bait.

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“It is not a legislative process. So that the vast majority  of Ghanaians who are  opposed to homosexuality , as the CDD survey suggest, will use this as a benchmark for political elections, it has nothing to do with the constitutionality of the bill.”

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.

The controversial bill has already divided opinion in the Ghanaian public discourse.

While some, particularly the religious and traditional groupings, have supported the Bill and hopeful of its passing, others say it could incur the wrath of the international community against Ghana.

By Laud Nartey||Ghana