The statement, delivered by Humanists International Board member, Roslyn Mould, was made during a dialogue with Ghana in the context of the UN’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR)* of the country.
In the statement, Mould noted with regret that Ghana had not accepted any UPR recommendations on improving the situation on LGBTI+ rights. The Ghanaian delegation had instead said that its Government’s position on LGBTI+ rights is reflected in the “Ghanaian Family Values Bill” [Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill, 2022]. The statement condemned the Bill, pointing out that it “infringes upon a whole host of rights, including to privacy, expression, movement, association, housing, and education.” The Bill has been described by UN experts as “a system of State-sponsored discrimination and violence” (as noted in a previous Humanists International statement on the issue). Mould also voiced concern about reports of MPs having been intimidated into supporting the Bill and highlighted the fact that there has been no dialogue with the LGBTI+ community or its allies despite the strong opposition of the Bill by many Ghanaians.
The Ghanaian Family Values Bill was adopted unanimously by Ghana’s parliament on 5 July 2023. The Bill now moves to the consideration stage, after which it will go through the third reading before it is passed into law. Last week, the Chair of the Committee handling the Bill, Kwame Anyimadu-Antwi, said that the Speaker has hinted that the anti-LGBTI+ Bill would be returned to them in order to put Christian and Muslim organizations in charge of so-called “conversion therapy” at their ‘health facilities.’
Ahead of the Parliamentary adoption of the Bill, the Humanist Association of Ghana released a statement condemning it and noting that Ghana’s Constitution “guarantees freedom of association, religion, beliefs and expression, which this current bill, in its form, violates on all fronts.” In 2021, they submitted a longer joint memo with a group of civil society organizations similarly outlining their serious concerns about the Bill and many ways in which it is contrary to human rights standards and the Constitution.
The Humanists’ statement also highlighted other human rights issues that persist in Ghana, particularly in terms of non-discrimination and equality.
On the issue of belief minorities, it pointed out that, “Non-religious people and people of minority religions also continue to face discrimination; many are forced to live closeted lives and in some cases are obliged to worship at educational institutions and workplaces or face persecution.”
Whilst it recognised improvements in the situation for people with disabilities, it pointed out that Ghana has been unable to ensure buildings are accessible, meaning people with disabilities continue to be discriminated against.
The statement also highlighted the terrible situation for those accused of witchcraft in the country, arguing that focus needs to be on criminalizing witchcraft accusations, the abusers and perpetrators of the act, and educating the general public on the issue.
*The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a UN process which involves a periodic review of the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States, by each other. It is a unique human rights mechanism in so far as it addresses all countries and all human rights. The Working Group on the UPR, which is composed of the HRC’s 47 Member States and chaired by the HRC President, conducts country reviews.