Ghana's speaker of parliament referred to the LGBTQ+ community as "a pandemic worse than COVID" in recent statements.
According to a report in Citi Newsroom, Speaker of Parliament Alban Bagbin made the remarks to a group of parliament members who had just presented him with a new proposed bill that would reportedly increase existing penalties for same-sex sexual relations and criminalize all LGBTQ+ activities.
"I can tell you that it [LGBTQ+] is more than COVID-19, and I am happy that our beloved country, Ghana, is together in this," Bagbin was quoted by Citi Newsroom. "The President has spoken, our traditional leaders have spoken, our religious leaders have spoken together, and Ghanaians have spoken with one voice, and we don't want to do anything that has to do with LGBTQ activities. I will always do what is right because good will always triumph over evil."
Bagbin said the bill would criminalize LGBTQ+ activities, and promised to shepherd the legislation through parliament to ensure quick passage.
"I want to assure all of you that we will create room for the Bill to be presented to Parliament officially," Bagbin said. "We will refer it to the appropriate committee and take it through all the stages of processing a Bill, and it shall be passed this year."
One of the sponsors of the bill, MP Samuel Nartey George, said it was written to "criminalize the promotion, advocacy, funding and act of homosexuality in all its forms" in a statement posted to Facebook.
"It is in my humble opinion a world class piece of legislation which should be reference material for other Parliaments seeking to pass similar legislation," George wrote. "May we unite to stop the growing scourge of perversion seeking to erode all that our culture holds dear."
Ghana has become an increasingly hostile place for its LGBTQ+ community members. In February video captured the scene as authorities raided and closed the offices of LGBT+ Rights Ghana, a queer rights advocacy group based in the capital city of Accra. The office had only opened the previous month but was immediately met with strong opposition from government officials and religious authorities, with threats of violence from local traditional leaders. In March, police broke up a wedding party for two women in Kwahu-Obomen, arresting 22 people. Video from the scene showed police shouting and pushing attendees while making arrests, although they were later forced to release the women on bail as they had no available women's cells at the local police station.
Ghana's President Akufo-Addo also gave little hope to the LGBTQ+ community in his country last month, making a statement on the fate of marriage equality, saying, "For same-sex marriage to be legalized in Ghana, it will not happen in my time as President."
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