We support anti-gay bill, but against the harassment of homosexuals – Ghana Catholic Bishops

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The Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference has clarified its position on Ghana’s anti-gay bill seeking to make the practice and the promotion of homosexuality in all of its forms illegal with severe punishments.

Discussions about the controversial bill resurfaced recently after the US Ambassador to Ghana, Virginia Palmer, warned that Ghana would face severe economic challenges should the bill banning lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) activities be passed into law.

The majority of Ghanaians, according to a survey conducted by the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) are in support of the bill.

In a letter to the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs of Parliament, signed by the Metropolitan Archbishop of Tamale and President of the Conference, Most Rev. Philip Naameh, the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference stated that in principle, the church is in support of the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill.

Portions of the letter said, “We, the Catholic Bishops of Ghana, write in support of the draft Bill presented to Parliament to make homosexual practices illegal in Ghana. Our voice needs to be heard on this matter not only because, in our view, it is morally unacceptable but also because according to the 2010 population census, the Catholic Church in Ghana constitutes a sizable percentage of the population, i.e., about 13.1 percent of the population of Ghana.”

The church offered varied reasons why it wants “this abominable practice made illegal in our country.”

The Bishops backed their position with what the Bible has said about homosexuality and how God views the act.

“The Bible, which is foundational to Christian beliefs and practices, condemns the practice”the letter noted.

For those who have spoken against the bill, they have mostly argued about the possible threat of physical harm that homosexual persons may face should the bill become a law.

The Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference expressed the same fear in its letter despite its support for the passage of the bill.

Nonetheless, in the view of the Church, it is not right to subject homosexuals to any form of harassment simply because they are homosexuals. The intrinsic dignity of each person must always be respected in word, in action and in law. Homosexuals must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. According to Pope Francis, the homosexual person needs to be “respected in his or her dignity and treated with consideration, and ‘every sign of unjust discrimination’ is to be carefully avoided, particularly any form of aggression or violence” (Amoris Laetitia 250). Families with LGBT members need “respectful pastoral guidance” from the church and its pastors so that gays and lesbians can fully carry out God’s will in their lives (Amoris Laetitia 250)” the letter concluded.

Their views appear to conflict with those of Ghana’s Cardinal Appiah Turkson, who’s a leader of the catholic church at the global level. Cardinal Turkson believes that homosexuality should not be a criminal offence, and people should be helped to understand the issue better.

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