Ghana’s Parliament Passes Anti-Gay Bill With Jail Terms

Ghana’s Parliament on Wednesday passed abill that further clamps down on L.G.B.T.Q. rights by imposing jail terms on those who identify as gay or form L.G.B.T.Q. groups, measures that Amnesty International called among the most stringent legislation on the African continent.

The legislation, if signed into law by President Nana Akufo-Addo, would mean that people convicted of identifying as gay could be sentenced to three years in jail, those deemed “promoters” of L.G.B.T.Q. issues could get five years, and those who engage in gay sex would receive five years instead of the three years under previous legislation.

The bill is the latest in a wave of anti-gay legislation passed in Africa: Tanzania, Niger and Namibia have tightened such laws in recent years, while Uganda has adopted an anti-gay law that includes the death penalty.

Thirty-one countries on the continent criminalize consensual same-sex sexual activity, according to Amnesty. Many have experienced a surge in homophobic attitudes, behaviors and rhetoric in recent years, the rights group said in a report last year.

“There are still so many countries in Africa where being L.G.B.T.Q. is considered evil or un-African,” said Linda Nduri, a Kenya-based campaign manager for Africa at All Out, a nonprofit organization.

Both major political parties in Ghana support the bill, but in recent days, its passage had been slowed by changes suggested by a member of the governing New Patriotic Party, Alexander Afenyo-Markin, to make it less harsh.

He said earlier this month that Parliament should decide whether people convicted under the anti-gay law should be given counseling and made to perform community service instead of being jailed. But some of his colleagues in Parliament shouted him down, saying that jail terms should be imposed.

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