Ghana parliament speaker criticises president for delaying anti-LGBTQ bill

By Thomson Reuters Mar 21, 2024 | 5:22 AM

ACCRA (Reuters) – Ghana’s speaker of parliament has said President Nana Akufo-Addo’s refusal to act on an anti-LGBTQ bill for the time being was unconstitutional and that parliament would stop approving new ministerial appointments.

One of Africa’s harshest anti-LGBTQ laws, unanimously passed by Ghana’s parliament last month, has been on hold since the president’s office said it would wait for the outcome of two legal challenges before the law goes to Akufo-Addo for assent.

The decision to wait came after a finance ministry warning that the bill could jeopardise $3.8 million in World Bank financing and derail a $3-billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan package.

But it has sparked backlash from supporters of the bill, who have said Akufo-Addo has in the past signed into law bills with legal challenges against them.

Parliament speaker Alban Bagbin told MPs on Wednesday the president office’s refusal to receive the bill was unconstitutional and caused an impasse between the executive and the legislature.

He said parliament would in turn be “unable to consider the nominations” regarding a government reshuffle in February that another opposition lawmaker has taken to court, until there is a ruling on the matter.

The move will halt approval procedures for about 21 nominees to ministerial and deputy ministerial posts, including two for the finance ministry.

The presidency did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

If it takes effect, the anti-LGBTQ bill will intensify a crackdown on the rights of LGBTQ people and those accused of promoting lesbian, gay or other minority sexual or gender identities in the West African country.

While gay sex is already punishable with up to three years in jail, the new law sets a prison sentence of up to five years for the “wilful promotion, sponsorship, or support of LGBTQ+ activities”.

The bill’s passage in parliament has already complicated life for sexual minorities, the LGBTQ community has said.

In May 2023, Uganda signed one of the world’s toughest anti-LGBTQ laws, including the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality”.

Activists said it unleashed a wave of abuse and the World Bank suspended new funding to the East African country.

(Reporting by Maxwell Akalaare Adombila; Editing by Sofia Christensen and Clarence Fernandez)