GSA statement in relation to the Human Sexual Rights and Family Values Bill

The Ghana Studies Association (GSA) is a multi-disciplinary association of scholars based at public and private universities, or working independently, in Ghana, North America, Europe, and elsewhere in the world. We are united by a common interest in studying the history, politics, cultures, societies, and economies of Ghana.

In the course of the twentieth century, Ghana experienced more than five decades of colonial rule, single-party socialism, four coups d’état (1966, 1972, 1979, 1981), and several periods of military rule. Regardless of political opinion, members of the Ghana Studies Association recognise that the 1992 constitution has played an important role in the relative stability of the Fourth Republic, and we hold dear the fundamental human rights and freedoms that are guaranteed by the constitution. We regard the Human Sexual Rights and Family Values Bill as incompatible with those fundamental human rights and freedoms.The Bill is also incompatible with the United Nations’ international human rights principles. 

On September 23, 2021, GSA issued a memorandum which expressed our concern about what was then the proposed Bill for the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values. The Bill has subsequently passed through Parliamentary debate and scrutiny. However, we share the concerns raised by NETRIGHT and other human rights activists in Ghana that this Bill will deny LGBTQ+ citizens equality before the law, and undermine their rights to privacy and dignity. It will also create a mandate for vigilantism against them, and expose them to heightened risk of violence. Some of these LGBTQ+ citizens are our members, and we are alarmed at the threat this Bill poses to their safety. In addition, this Bill will criminalise individuals by association and create new ‘reporting duties’ which are deeply divisive and will open the door to multiple further abuses of constitutional rights and freedoms.

As a body of academic researchers and university educators, we are concerned by the hostility that has been directed at human rights activists and scholars in Ghana who are exercising their constitutional rights to freedom of thought, conscience, belief, speech, expression, and association in relation to this Bill. Some of these activist-scholars are our members. We support them unequivocally in exercising their constitutional rights. We are concerned that the hostility with which they have recently met is indicative of the broader negative impacts of this Bill, which is likely to have a chilling impact on intellectual enquiry.

We therefore appeal to President Nana Akuffo-Addo to desist from granting presidential assent to this Bill. We call on the President to adhere to the core legal obligations of States with respect to protecting the human rights of LGBTQ+ people.