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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Catholic Bishops Conference sets records straight on position on anti-gay bill –

The Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference has clarified its stance on the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill (anti-LGBTQ+ bill), which is currently being considered by parliament.

The conference was criticised by some Ghanaians, including the Member of Parliament for Ningo-Prampram, Sam Nartey George, after its president, Most Rev Matthew Gyamfi, reiterated the position stated by Cardinal Peter Turkson in an interview with BBC that “homosexuality or homosexuals should not be criminalised”.

The bishops have now released a statement explaining the church’s position on LGBTQ+ activities and Ghana’s anti-LGBTQ+ bill.

The statement, which was signed by the Most Rev Matthew Gyamfi, clarified with biblical backing that the church condemns homosexual acts.

It indicated that homosexuality is against God’s design and a threat to the survival of the human race.

“For the Church, to choose someone of the same sex for one’s sexual activity or for marriage is to annul the rich symbolism and meaning, not to mention the goals, of God’s sexual design.

“Homosexual activity is not a complementary union, able to transmit life, and so it thwarts the call to a life of that form of self-giving which the Gospel says is the essence of Christian living,” part of the statement read.

The bishops, however, explained that even though the church abhors homosexuality, it does not condemn the people who engage in such acts – homosexuals.

It added that homosexuals should be treated with love and not as criminals.

“The Church thus makes a distinction between the homosexual as a person and the acts that he may carry out as a homosexual person. With regard to the former, the Church does not condemn people for being homosexuals or for having the homosexual tendency. Homosexuals must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity.

“The Church teaches that the intrinsic dignity of each person must always be respected in word, in action and in law. According to Pope Francis, the homosexual person needs to be ‘respected in his or her dignity and treated with consideration, and ‘every sign of unjust discrimination’ is to be carefully avoided, particularly any form of aggression or violence’ (Amoris Laetitia 250). For this reason, it is not right to inflict physical or other types of violence on homosexuals just because they are homosexuals. Their being homosexuals does not mean that they should be treated like criminals,” it added.

On Ghana’s anti-LGBTQ+ bill, the Church took strong exception to the use of the word ‘crime’ in the bill.

The bishops indicated that homosexual acts cannot be classified as crime because they don’t “constitute an offence and are usually deemed socially harmful or dangerous and is punishable by law.”

They, however, indicated that the state can criminalize homosexual actions if they are seen as a danger to the size of Ghana’s population.

The church concluded by saying that the draft Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values 2021 is in the right direction since it “seeks to enact laws against criminal homosexual acts.”

Here is what the church said about Ghana’s anti-LGBTQ+ bill:

The State on Homosexuality

The Church recognizes that the State has a duty to carry out in this matter of
homosexuality. With regard to homosexual acts, while the Church speaks of them
as sins, the State does not use such language. For the State, whose duty it is to enact laws to govern the citizenry, the language used is that of crime. What then is a crime? “Crime” may be defined as an action or omission, which constitutes an offence and is usually deemed socially harmful or dangerous and is punishable by law. In the light of this definition, homosexual acts from the point of view of the State may be criminal in nature. For example, if a homosexual man rapes a teenage boy, that would be deemed a criminal offence, just as the same act carried out by a heterosexual man on a teenage girl would be deemed a criminal offence. In other words, these acts are not in the interest of the nation and, indeed, harm the nation. For this reason, there must be punitive measures to deal with such situations.

Again, the law makers may decide that a man marrying a man or a woman marrying
a woman is not in the interest of the nation since, in the long term, it will have an effect on the size of the population of our country if many people do this. In such a case, the law makers will be within their rights to enact laws against that. In such cases, it will be right for the law makers to criminalize such homosexual actions by punitive measures. Thus, we can say that while it is not right to criminalize homosexuals just for being homosexuals, the State is within its right to criminalize the acts of homosexuals in the interest of the nation.

In this connection, we can state that the draft bill on “Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values 2021” currently in Parliament is in the right direction, as it seeks to enact laws against criminal homosexual acts. The bill aims to provide for proper human sexual rights and Ghanaian family values, proscribe LGBTQ+ and related activities, and provide for the protection of children, persons who are victims or accused of LGBTTQQIAAP+ and related activities, and other persons. We commend our law makers for the effort and time spent on this bill. It is our hope that, when passed into law, it will indeed promote proper human sexual rights and authentic Ghanaian family values which are under threat from homosexual acts. It is also the hope of the Church that the bill will impose punitive measures that are commensurate with the crimes committed.

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you” (2 Corinthians 13:13 NRSV)

Read the full statement below:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1eix4I90Xa4EXn4xOPpMAEyvZgWf70jPY/preview

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