The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has today issued a statement condemning a proposed law being considered by the Ghanian parliament which will make it a crime to be gay, bisexual or trans.
In a communiqué from Lambeth Palace, the Archbishop said, “I am gravely concerned by the draft anti-LGBTQ+ Bill due to be debated by the Ghanaian parliament. I will be speaking with the Archbishop of Ghana in the coming days to discuss the Anglican Church of Ghana’s response to the Bill.
“The majority of Anglicans within the global Anglican Communion are committed to upholding both the traditional teaching on marriage as laid out in the 1998 Lambeth Conference Resolution I:10, and the rights of every person, regardless of sexual orientation, before the law. In Resolution I:10, the Anglican Communion also made a commitment “to assure [LGBTQ+ people] that they are loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ.” Meanwhile on numerous occasions the Primates of the Anglican Communion have stated their opposition to the criminalisation of same-sex attracted people: most recently, and unanimously, in the communiqué of the 2016 Primates’ Meeting.
“I remind our brothers and sisters in the Anglican Church of Ghana of these commitments.
“We are a global family of churches, but the mission of the church is the same in every culture and country: to demonstrate, through its actions and words, God’s offer of unconditional love to every human being through Jesus Christ.”
The Church’s attitude to homosexuality is the cause of a long-running split within the Anglican communion, often pitting more liberal churches in the West against the more conservative approach of their counterparts in Africa.
Gay sex is already illegal in Ghana and punishable by up to three years imprisonment, but the new so-called “family values bill” goes further, making it a crime simply to be LGBT+, to campaign for LGBT+ equality or simply to express sympathy for the LGBT+ community in the former British colony. Under the proposed new law, any individual advocating for LGBT+ rights could face up to ten years in prison. The Bill also imposes on Ghanian citizens a duty to report “suspects”.
In a statement, a panel of UN experts said, “Passing this law in its current or even partial form would violate a significant number of human rights, including the absolute prohibition of torture.”
“This will not only criminalise LGBTI (people but also all those who support or show sympathy for human rights,” they added.
A 2014 poll by the research group Afrobarometer reported that about 90% of Ghanaians say they support a law criminalising same-sex relationships.