By Yvonne Atilego
UN human rights experts have urged the government of Ghana to reject a proposed ‘Family Values’ Bill, which seeks to establish a system of State-sponsored discrimination and violence against the LGBTI community in the country.
A statement from the UN office said the consideration of this legislation by a country that is regarded as a champion of democracy in Africa, with an impressive record of achieving certain Millennium Development Goals by 2015, is quite worrying.
The first reading of the ‘family values’ bill was heard on August 2, 2021, and its consideration is expected to resume in October 2021. The draft legislation argues that any person who deviates from an arbitrary standard of sexual orientation or gender identity is immediately to be considered dangerous, sick or anti-social.
The UN experts say such laws are a textbook example of discrimination. They added that the proposed law promotes deeply harmful practices that amount to ill-treatment and are conducive to torture, such as so-called ‘conversion therapy’ and other heinous violations like unnecessary medical procedures on intersex children, and so-called corrective rape for women.
The independent experts, appointed by the Human Rights Council, presented an analysis of the draft bill to government, concluding that adopting the legislation in its current or any partial form would be tantamount to a violation of a number of human rights standards, including the absolute prohibition of torture.
The experts cited attempts to prevent human rights defenders from organizing themselves to defend LGBTI people, and the absolute prohibition of public debate on sexual orientation and gender identity which they say raise grave concerns about rights to freedom of opinion and expression, and of association.
They add that the draft legislation appears to be the result of a deep loathing toward the LGBTI Community.
It says the bill will not only criminalize LGBTI people, but anyone who supports their human rights shows sympathy to them or is even remotely associated with them.
The UN Experts conclude that given that LGBTI people are present in every family and every community. It is not very difficult to imagine how, if it were to be adopted, this legislation could create a recipe for conflict and violence.