Anti-LGBTQ: IMF sends strong warning to Ghana

Estimated read time 5 min read

The International Monetary Fund has sent a strong warning to Ghana after the country’s Parliament on Wednesday, February 28 2024 passed the bill into law. The Proper Human Sexual Rights and Family Values bill popularly referred to as the anti-LGBTQ bill was by unanimously by the Ghanaian parliament after months of back and forth.

Just like has been the case before Wednesday’s landmark decision by the Ghanaian lawmaking body, warnings have continued to trickle in from all quarters including international partners. The IMF which currently runs a bailout programme in Ghana that is worth US$3 billion has joined the warning party by issuing a strong message to the country.

“Diversity and inclusion are values that the IMF embraces. Our internal policies prohibit discrimination based on personal characteristics, including but not limited to gender, gender expression, or sexual orientation. Like institutions, diverse and inclusive economies flourish,” the Bretton Woods Institution stated in the release copied to Bloomberg.

Parliament passes anti-LGBTQ bill, international community breaks lose

Taking the lead in condemning the decision was the United Nations which through its High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk said the bill would the “scope of criminal sanctions against” LGBTQ people and their allies.

“The bill broadens the scope of criminal sanctions against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transexual and queer people – simply for being who they are – and threatens criminal penalties against perceived allies of LGBTQ+ people.”

He added, “I call for the bill not to become law. I urge the Ghanaian Government to take steps to ensure everyone can live free from violence, stigma and discrimination, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Consensual same-sex conduct should never be criminalized.”

Explaining why the anti-LGBTQ bill is anti-Ghana, the UN High Commissioner said, “The bill is contrary to Ghana’s own Constitution and freely-undertaken regional and international human rights obligations and commitments – including to leave no one behind in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

Mr Volker Turk added that “Criminal sanctions for consensual same-sex conduct not only violate key international human rights norms and standards on equality, non-discrimination, privacy and equal protection of the law, among others – there is extensive evidence that they legitimize prejudice, expose people to hate crime, police abuse, harassment, intimidation, blackmail and torture. They also perpetuate discrimination and denial of access to basic services, including in healthcare, education and housing.”

LGBTQ flags. Ghana's parliament on Wednesday February 2, 2024 passed the anti-LGBTQ bill into law awaiting the signature of the President

United States issues aid threats, warns Akufo-Addo against anti-LGBTQ bill

Apart from the IMF, the United States embassy in Ghana also called out the Ghanaian lawmakers for the decision which was imminent from day one since the bill was laid. According to the US Embassy, the passage of the bill would “…undermine Ghana’s valuable public health, media and civic spaces, and economy.  International business coalitions have already stated that such discrimination in Ghana would harm business and economic growth in the country.”

Back home in the United States, the US State Department spokesperson Matt Miller has said there could be dire consequences if the president puts a signature to the anti-LGBTQ bill to make law. He stated that it would have negative impacts on foreign investment and tourism in the West African country.

“So we have made very clear what our opinion is on that law – you can look at my statement yesterday – and we have made that clear in private conversations with the Government of Ghana as well. I don’t think I should get any more specific than that, but if this bill becomes law, it would certainly have a chilling effect on foreign investment and tourism in Ghana”.

Human rights groups cry loudest

Meanwhile, human rights groups in the country are bracing up to test the Supreme Court. They say they are willing to test how deep Ghana’s laws are in protecting the rights of every person. The Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, CHRAJ, Mr Joseph Akanjolenur Whittal has said Ghana cannot use its cultural values to make laws.

“This bill is not a law, so it cannot be used against anybody. There are still processes to make it a law. That is why I am raising the challenge to the Presidency to consider whether he shouldn’t exercise his right of rejection on the basis of constitutionality aired against human rights. If it makes it through him, and if he also assents, I know there is a bunch of people who are ready to challenge the constitutionality of this bill before the Supreme Court.”

“It is early days yet. I will advise them, they should hold on. While all these things are working out, I have confidence that somewhere along the line something will shift. We cannot just use the principle of our cultural values and throw all of us under the bus. We need to be very careful as a people,” Joseph Akanjolenur Whittal told Joy News.

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