The Catholic Bishop of Konongo-Mampong in the Ashanti Region, the Most Rev. Joseph Osei-Bonsu, has called on President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to state, unequivocally, what his position is on the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ+) issue.
“I would also be most grateful if you could state unequivocally what your position on LCBTQ+ is. I request this because many Ghanaians are not sure of your position on this matter, while they are clear about the position of some of your predecessors who have made their positions clear and unambiguous,” he said.
The Most Rev. Osei-Bonsu made the call in an open letter to the President, dated April 3, 2023.
“I am writing to you today as a citizen of Ghana in connection with three statements that you have made as President of the Republic of Ghana concerning the issue of LGBTQI+. I find inconsistencies in them and I would be most grateful if you could clarify them for me,” it said.
The letter said on December 6, 2017, Jane Dutton of Aljazeera interviewed President Akufo-Addo on the subject of homosexuality, and that in response to the question as to why homosexuality remained a criminal offence in Ghana, “you were reported to have said the following: ‘l don’t believe that in Ghana, so far a sufficiently strong coalition has emerged which is having that impact on public opinion that would say change it and let’s now have a new paradigm in Ghana.
“‘I grew up in England and I grew up in a time when homosexuality was banned there, and then suddenly the activities of individuals and groups, a certain awareness, a certain development grew stronger and it forced in changing [the] law.
“‘I believe that those are the same processes that will bring about changes in our situation. At the moment, I don’t feel, I don’t see that in Ghana there is that strong current of opinion that is saying this is something that we need you to deal with’.”
In the Most Rev. Osei-Bonsu’s view, the President did not answer the question posed by the journalist, and that he should have admitted that homosexuality, indeed, remained a criminal offence in Ghana, making reference to Section 104 of the Criminal Code of 1960 which criminalises consensual same-sex sexual acts between persons of the same gender.
At the induction in Asante Mampong of the Archbishop of the Internal Province of Ghana in the Church of the Province of West Africa (CPWA), Cyril Kobina Ben-Smith, on Saturday, February 27, 2021, “you indicated, in what could be described as your strongest position yet, that you were not considering the legalisation of same-sex marriages,” he said.
“Indeed, you gave an assurance, to the excitement of many at the ceremony (including my good self!), that it would not be under your Presidency that same-sex marriages would be legalised.
“l have said it before, and let me stress it again, that it will not be under the Presidency of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo that same-sex marriage will be legalised,” the letter quoted the President as saying at the event.
“In the light of what I may term ‘the Mampong Declaration’, I was baffled by what Your Excellency said when you held a press conference with the Vice-President of the United States, Kamala Harris, while responding to a question by a New York Times journalist in Accra on Monday, March 27, 2023 on the issue of LGBTQ+,” he said.
Among other things, the letter said the President’s statement that the bill had been championed by “only a handful of MPs” was unfortunate.
“I would like you to realise that the ‘handful of MPs’ spoke for over 80 per cent of Ghanaians who abhor homosexuality,” it said, adding that a survey conducted by the Africa Centre for International Law and Accounting (ACILA) had revealed that over 80 per cent of Ghanaians were against the normalisation of homosexuality in the country.
It said the President missed a fine opportunity to correct Ms Harris on her understanding of human rights.