The New Patriotic Party (NPP) Majority in Parliament has pledged that the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill, 2021, will be debated dispassionately by the House to ensure an outcome that satisfies Ghanaians.
Briefing the media on the matter in Parliament yesterday, the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs and Leader of Government Business, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu also pointed out that the debate on what has come to be known as the anti-LGBTQI+ Bill, was not about Majority versus Minority.
According to him, the issue borders on the interest of the Ghanaian population and Parliament as the House of their representatives.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu emphasised that Members of Parliament (MPs) are representatives of the people and gave assurance to the citizenry that Parliament will not turn its back on them or their interests.
The Majority Leader who is also the MP for Suame assured Ghanaians in an apparent response to public accusations that the NPP Majority in Parliament was not interested in the Bill as well as the activities of LGBTQI+ and their advocates.
Last week, Deputy General Secretary of the NPP, Nana Obiri Boahen, expressed surprise that members of the Majority side did not join the anti-LGBTQ+ campaign and urged the MPs to declare their support or otherwise for the bill.
No person, he said, should even encourage the Ghanaian population not to talk about the matter.
However, speaking on the issue, Majority leader Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu stated that the 1992 Constitution is emphatic in Chapter 11, Article 125, which states that, “Justice emanates from the people and shall be administered in the name of the Republic….”
According to him, the operative clause is “Justice emanates from the people” because Ghanaians have their own peculiar sets of values and upbringing wherever they come from.
“Wherever we come from we have our sets of values and it is the values that guide us in life. There is a reason why the Constitution states that justice emanates from the people,” he reiterated.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu assured that no MP will be against the principle of the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill, 2021 currently before the House.
Parliament, Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu indicated, will not be pressured by international relations to go against Ghana’s interests.
He cited Article 40 (a) of Ghana’s constitution as “the driving principle that should underpin our international relations.”
“In its dealings with other nations, the government shall promote and protect the interests of Ghana,” Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu quoted from the constitution.
Submission of memoranda
Parliament is currently receiving memoranda on the anti-LGBTQ+ Bill ahead of its resumption later in October.
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu urged organized groups like churches, mosques, Civil Society Organizations and individuals speaking on the matter to submit memoranda to the appropriate parliamentary committee for consideration.
According to him, Article 106 (6) of the Constitution provides for the report of the Committee together with the explanatory Memoranda to the Bill to form the basis of the debate for its passage with or without amendment or its rejection by Parliament.
“So the basis of the debate that we are going to have in Parliament is the Memoranda to the Bill and the hearings that the Committee will submit itself to, which will form the basis of the report that they will present to Plenary.
“The report itself could be heavily influenced by the Memoranda that will go to them. That is why I am urging citizens to submit memos to the Committee working on the Bill,” he added.
Ghana’s two main religious groupings, Christians and Muslims, have been vocal in their support of the Bill and presented memos backing the legislation that has been described as homophobic by critics.
Fifteen renowned legal, academic, and civil society professionals filled also filed a memo describing the Bill as inimical to Ghana’s democratic principles.
The Bill prescribes that people of the same sex who engage in sexual activity could spend up to 10 years in jail.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu urged all stakeholders to take out emotions and sentiments from the ongoing debate else it will cloud the rationale of the issues surrounding the Bill.
The Bill has passed through the first reading and referred to the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for consideration and report before debate on its principle will commence in accordance with article 106 (6) of the 1992 Constitution.
The leader of Government Business debunked calls by a section of the public for debate on the Bill to be telecast live.
The call, he argued, demonstrates how oblivious people are to how affairs are conducted in parliament.
He stressed that Parliamentary proceedings are already public activity and therefore nothing is going to be hidden from Ghanaians.