On Wednesday, 7th July 2023, the Parliament of Ghana started debating an anti-LGBTQ bill meant to tighten restrictions around gay activities and rights.
With religious and traditional leaders in the public gallery, opposition to the proposed Promotion of Proper Sexual Human Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill 2021 seemed unlikely.
MPs took turns addressing the Speaker, passionately articulating their reasons for supporting the bill and why they believed it was the right direction for citizens who violate it to be punished once it becomes law.
Notable contributions on the floor came from Ablekuma West MP, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful and Rockson-Nelson Dafeamekpor of the South Dayi constituency.
Both of them supported the bill but argued briefly on some details which they both had to clarify.
Ursula said it was incumbent on the House to craft a piece of legislation that protects the fundamental human rights of all Ghanaians regardless of whatsoever beliefs they may have so that it does not conflict with the constitution.
While Mr. Dafeamekpor was on the floor, there was a brief interruption as the microphones picked up a whisper.
The Second Deputy Speaker who was in the chair, called out Tamale Central MP, Murtala Mohammed asking him to withdraw an unparliamentary comment he was deemed to have passed.
On the other hand, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful was incensed by the development and accused the legislator of calling her a practitioner of LGBTQ.
“I sat here and repeatedly heard Hon Murtala refer to me as a practitioner of LGBT to the hearing of everyone in this house… and in response to that if I say he is mad, it is only a mad man who will refer to his colleague in this house as a practitioner of LGBTQ when you haven’t seen me having sexual intercourse with your wife or your daughter or your mother,” she flared up.
She burst out and called out all other legislators who she believes heard the comment but turned deaf ears to it.
“And you all [parliamentarians] hear it and pretend that suddenly you’ve lost your sense of hearing,” she added.
Both individuals withdrew their comments at the request of the Second Deputy Speaker and proceedings continued.
In the end, all MPs unanimously consented to the recommendation of the report that the bill is passed.
This follows months of public debate and ratification of the document by the legislators and other stakeholders since its introduction in 2021.
Already, the controversial bill has been hit with a number of legal actions with the latest lawsuit announced only on Tuesday, July 4, 2023.
But approving the laying of the bill and the subsequent debate before the consideration stage, Speaker Alban Bagbin said it is clear that no legislator is against the passage of the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill, 2021.
“With the submissions just made by the Honourable Andy Appiah Kubi that all the 275 MPs are in support of the bill, anybody who disagrees be on your feet and I will recognize you.
“Honourable members, since all members are in support of the bill, I am definitely not going to gag the House. I will give you the opportunity to expand and improve further the submissions made so that at the consideration stage, it will be enriched by your contributions.
“But I just want us to be clear that none is against the bill,” he stressed.