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Political and Social Regression in Africa: Focus on LGBTQ+ Rights

Updated: Nov 13, 2023




PART ONE: Escalation of Anti-LGBTQ+ Legislation


Introduction

In the majority of Africa's 54 nations, LGBTQ+ rights are unacknowledged, with severe penalties for homosexual acts, including death in places like Uganda, and intensified legal punishments, as seen in Kenya. This trend has led to an increase in violent crimes against LGBTQ+ individuals.


Uganda's Harsh Anti-LGBTQ+ Stance

Uganda, under President Yoweri Museveni, has passed severe anti-LGBTQ+ laws, prescribing life imprisonment and even death for certain homosexual acts, including “aggravated homosexuality, "reflecting the country's intense homophobic climate.


Museveni once described homosexuals as “disgusting.”




Uganda is one of the most perilous places in the world for LGBTQ+ persons. Ugandans murdered for being gay include Noah Matthew Kinono, stabbed to death in August 2022, and activist David Kato, beaten to death in his home by a man wielding a hammer.


Ghana's Controversial Bill

Ghana's parliament is advancing a bill that drastically infringes on LGBTQ+ rights under the pretext of "Ghanaian family values," threatening harsh punishments for LGBTQ+ relations and support despite no evidence of any threat to societal norms.


Some of Ghana’s anti-LGBTQ+ bill's features are listed below.

  • dissolution of all and any LGBTQ+ groups or association

  • 6 to 12 months for any “public show of romantic relations."

  • 3 to 5 years of imprisonment for engaging in same-sex intercourse;

  • 5 to 10 years of imprisonment for anyone who produces, procures, or distributes material deemed to be "promoting LGBT+ activities;"

  • A requirement for citizens and institutions to "promote and protect proper human sexual rights and Ghanaian family values;"

  • A ban on providing trans healthcare.


Historical Context

The backlash in Ghana escalated after an LGBTQ+ resource center opened in Accra in 2020, drawing international attention and leading to a significant legislative push to criminalize LGBTQ+ existence and advocacy.


Misguided Justifications

Ghanaian MP Sam George, spearheading the anti-LGBTQ+ bill, wrongly argues that homosexuality is a preference and not a human right, neglecting the inclusive protection offered by international human rights declarations like the UDHR.


Constitutional Violations

The proposed legislation in Ghana conflicts with several constitutional freedoms, including freedom of speech and association, posing a threat to democracy by potentially criminalizing any form of support or even neutral discussion of LGBTQ+ issues. Clause 12 of the Bill criminalizes ideas, views, and expressions promoting or advocating support for LGBTQ+ practices, including in movies; broadcasts of LGBTQ+ comments or opinions on the internet; and in text messages that express support or sympathy for, or solidarity with LGBTQ+ identity, causes, views and activities.



A Climate of Fear

The bill hypocritically includes a clause against mob justice on LGBTQ+ individuals. Still, it fails to address the ingrained societal and institutional biases, effectively ignoring the real dangers faced by the LGBTQ+ community in Ghana. Under Clause 12 of the bill, any person who engages in any of these acts commits an offense which, on conviction, is liable to imprisonment for not less than five years or more than ten years. Yet, this Clause violates Article 21(1) (a) of the Constitution, which provides that “All persons are entitled to freedom of speech and expression, which shall include the freedom of the press and other media.”


Personal Narratives Disturbing incidents of violence and discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals in Ghana, including mob attacks and dehumanizing treatment, highlight the urgency and severity of the situation, with implications reaching as far as international asylum cases.


Conclusion

The intensifying political and moral challenges facing Africa's LGBTQ+ community necessitate urgent attention and action to uphold human rights and protect vulnerable populations from state-sanctioned discrimination and violence.






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