Ghana approves bill making it illegal to identify as LGBTQ+

Should the bill be signed into law, it would worsen criminal penalties for members of the LGBTQ+ community in Ghana and their allies.

Ghana LGBTQ+

On Wednesday, February 28, a bill that makes it illegal to identify as LGBTQ+ was unanimously approved by Parliament in Ghana. The bill now heads to the desk of Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo. Should the president choose to sign the bill into law, it would worsen criminal penalties for members of the LGBTQ+ community in Ghana and their allies. 

Pre-existing punishments for homosexuality are currently in effect in Ghana, with those found guilty being sentenced to up to three years in prison. The new bill, if signed into law, would increase this sentence to five years. The bill would similarly make it illegal for Ghana’S citizens to identify as LGBTQ+ or as an ally. Those found supporting, advocating for, or funding LGBTQ+ civil rights would similarly be susceptible to punishments under the new bill. 

At present, the proposed bill would carry a 10-year prison sentence for anyone involved in LGBTQ+ advocacy campaigns aimed at children. It similarly encourages Ghanaian citizens to report members of the LGBTQ+ community to authorities for “necessary action.” 

The bill, known formally as The Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill, was first drafted by legislators in 2021, just months after the country’s first LGBTQ+ advocacy resource centre opened in Accra, the country’s capital. 

According to the bill, the centre’s opening was “greeted with a plethora of criticism from a cross section of Ghanaians.” The centre was later forced to close its doors following a series of public protests. 

“We are outraged to hear about the Ghanaian Parliament’s passage of the so-called ‘Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Act’ – a cruel bill that violates the fundamental rights of LGBTQI+ people and allies throughout Ghana,” said Human Rights Campaign Vice President of Government Affairs David Stacy in a statement following the Ghanaian Parliament’s decision on Wednesday. “Every single lawmaker who voted to pass this bill is wrongly using their power to strip away the basic humanity of the people they are supposed to represent.” 

Stacy’s disdain for the bill was shared by British-Ghanaian artist and photographer Campbell Addy. The artist, who was a 2021 honoree of Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list of young achievers, lamented the government’s decision in a poem posted to X (formerly Twitter). 

“Today Ghana passed the bill making my existence as part of the LGBTQIA+ ‘illegal,’” wrote the artist. “Today we moved a step backwards…Without Ghana, I wouldn’t exist, but in spite of certain Ghanaians I will continue to exist.” 

“Am I paining you by existing,” he continued. “Because I and my kin yearn to live free / We embody freedom everything we choose to just simply exists / And this pains you because you too wish to be free … But Feb 28 will be the day Ghana has shown its LACK of potential / This is a human rights issue / LGBTQIA+ for now. / but who’s next?”


Winnie Byanyima, the Executive Director of UNAIDS, similarly spoke about the new bill, writing on X/Twitter: “If Human Sexual rights and the Ghanaian Family Values Bill becomes a law, it will exacerbate fear and hatred, could incite violence against fellow Ghanaian citizens, and will negatively impact on free speech, freedom of movement and freedom of association.”

Director Byanyima added that the bill would “obstruct access to life-saving services” and “jeopardize Ghana’s development success.” 

While the future of the bill is now in the hands of President Nana Akufo-Addo, the head of state has previously stated that he will sign the bill into law if the majority of Ghanaians want him to. 


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