Remarks by visiting US VP Kamala Harris on LGBT laws should not be tolerated, the country’s parliamentary speaker has said.
Ghana intends to pass its family values act regardless of what the US says, Speaker of the Parliament Alban Bagbin has told lawmakers. He was speaking in response to remarks by US Vice President Kamala Harris on her African tour in Ghana this week, that LGBT rights were a human rights issue.
Bagbin dismissed Harris’ remarks. “These things should not be tolerated. That is undemocratic! What is democracy? That somebody else would have to dictate to me, as to what is good and what is bad? Unheard of!” Bagbin said on Tuesday, at a meeting with legislators to discuss the proposed ‘Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values’ bill.
In a joint press conference with President Nana Akufo-Addo on Monday, Harris did not directly address the bill, but affirmed that LGBT rights were “an issue that we consider to be a human rights issue, and that will not change.”
Last week, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters at the White House that LGBT rights were “something that’s a core part of our foreign policy, and it will remain so.”
Bagbin told the Ghanaian lawmakers that they “need to legislate” and should not fear outside pressure. “Don’t be intimidated by any person,” he said. “What are you afraid of, if you have the whole people behind you? If God is with you, who can be against you?”
Last week, the parliament in Uganda approved a law that made “aggravated homosexuality” punishable by death, and “recruitment, promotion and funding” of homosexual “activities” with up to life in prison.
Ghana’s proposal would make same-sex intercourse a second-degree felony, punishable by three to five years in prison, with those promoting activities banned under the bill facing five to ten years behind bars. “The bill will be passed,” Bagbin told the lawmakers. He also reminded President Akufo-Addo that his job was to execute the laws, not to legislate himself.
“This is a word to his excellency the president – there is no way he can intervene,” he said. “Let’s get this clear: Once this bill is before here, he is not in charge. I am in charge.”
Harris arrived in Accra on Sunday evening, on the first leg of the trip that would take her to Tanzania and Zambia as well. The White House said her visit would focus on democracy, climate change, security, the economy, and the conflict in Ukraine. The US has also pledged $100 million in aid for Ghana and nearby Benin, Togo, Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire.