Why Anti-LGBTQ+ Bill is not a good idea

The purpose of this piece is to show how legislating against LGBTQ + rights is an unnecessary and avoidable distraction in our quest to build a prosperous and financially stable society.
I shall try and debunk some of the religious and cultural arguments which the proponents of the anti- LGBTQ + bill use to justify their stance. I shall also endeavour to show why criminalising LGBTQ + activities is financially not sound.

The main religious argument against LGBTQ + people has been gleaned from the story of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19). Indeed, the negative use of the word ‘Sodomites’ to describe gay people has its roots in this story.

Briefly, the story details how strangers (actually angels sent from God) came to the city of Sodom. Lot, Abraham’s nephew, who had moved into the city, welcomed the strangers.

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Instead of welcoming them, the people of Sodom, as was common at that time, saw the strangers as the enemy and demanded that Lot give them over “so that they may know them carnally”.

This act was what we would today consider as a war crime — rape. God later destroys the city with “brimstone and fire”. This, according to some biblical scholars, was essentially about their inhospitality. The Quran pretty much narrates the same story (Quran 11: 74-83 and 29: 28-35).

The inhospitality aspect of the story is given credence in Ezekiel 16: 49 “Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom; she and her daughters had pride, excess of food and prosperous ease but did not aid the poor and needy”.

Further evidence that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because of their inhospitality can be found in the Gospels (Matthew 10: 14-15, Luke 10: 11-12). Jesus, whilst instructing his disciples to go out and preach, said “And whosoever shall not receive you…

Verily, I say unto you, it shall be more bearable on the day of judgement for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that city”. Cardinal Peter Turkson, the Ghanaian many tip to be the first black Pope, in an interview on BBC’s Hardtalk programme, strongly advocated the non-criminalisation of homosexuality

Another excuse, not supported by justifiable and identifiable evidence, is the claim that homosexuality is un-Ghanaian. Nana Agyeman, a researcher in homosexuality in Ghana, says that politicians stick their heads in the sand when they claim that homosexuality is merely a Western import.

In an article written in 2017, he amply and brilliantly demonstrated how the phenomenon had been in Ghana long before the advent of Europeans. He quoted James Christensen, who published the first ever study of homosexuality in Ghana in the 1950s, as stating that “men who have sex with men” were an integral but obscure part of Ghanaian culture.

He also referred to the work of Dela Attipoe, a Ghanaian expert on homosexual issues, who had concluded in his work that “it is not a recent phenomenon being visited on Ghana and Ghanaians by ‘whites’ or foreigners” and that “it is practically happening everywhere, particularly where people gather for celebrations and merrymaking in urban areas along with other places most people would never suspect”.

From my own limited experience, I remember the widespread culture of ‘supi and piu’ — homosexual behaviour ― among students during our secondary school years.

But the strongest argument in resisting the criminalisation of homosexuality is a practical one: financial and economic stability. The former finance minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, is on record as having said that Ghana risks losing $3.8 billion in World Bank financing over the next five to six years if the President signs the anti-LGBTQ + bill.

This would not only negatively affect the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme but would also affect the debt-restructuring concurrently underway. The statement further posited that it would adversely affect the exchange rate of the cedi to major international currencies. Already, the cedi is in freefall and performing badly.

This is manifesting in the exponential price increase of most products, as we are essentially an import driven economy. It is therefore unfathomable for any politician, if they have the welfare of the masses at heart, to persist in bringing this bill into force.

Should we sacrifice our well-being on the altar of puritanical morality? Food for thought…Adieu!

The writer is a lawyer.

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