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Legal academic, Professor Ernest Kofi Abotsi, believes Ghana’s secular nature should underpin the debate over the Bill to crack down on LGBTQI activities.
Speaking on the Citi Breakfast Show, Prof. Abotsi, who is the Dean of the University of Professional Studies’ Law School, said “rational debate will stem from the recognition of the secularity of Ghana.”
“For a good argument, for a good debate, we need to start from a recognition of the fact that we are a secular state… We have to recognize the painful trade-off that the constitution has established.”
The point about Ghana being a secular state is one that has been used to counter the religious elements backing the anti-LGBTQI Bill.
“For people who do not believe in anything, any debate which is founded on belief is an imposition on them,” Prof. Abotsi said.
He also held that Ghana was a neoliberal environment and “in a neoliberal environment, you have the permission of things that are not harmful to others.”
Prof. Abotsi did admit that the Bill’s aim to promote family values was arguably important.
He however said the punishments required a second look.
“The key question that ought to be asked is to check the balance of proportionality in terms of the ends being sought to be protected vis-à-vis the means to be used to protect that end.”
“This Bill, for example, doubles the minimum punishment for rape,” Prof. Abotsi noted.
Aside from the debate over the existence of queer people in Ghana, he also said it presented an opportunity to address sexual laws in Ghana.
The main law in this regard is section 104 of the Criminal Code of Ghana which describes unnatural carnal knowledge as sexual intercourse with a person in an unnatural manner or with an animal.
With reference to the use of unnatural manner, Prof Abotsi said “lots of people say it is actually talking about anal sex, but some have gone as far to suggest that even having oral sex can be considered unnatural.”
He argued further that some of these laws needed review.
“Frankly, if all these laws were to be enforced, then we wouldn’t have enough prisons in Ghana to contain people.”