Bishops in Ghana Must End Their Support for Anti-LGBTQ Abuse, Says Fr. Dan Horan

Catholic bishops of Ghana

Church leaders in Ghana need to reorient their approach to the criminalization of LGBTQ people given their homophobic record, writes Franciscan theologian Fr. Dan Horan, OFM.

Horan, writing at the National Catholic Reporter, describes Ghana as “one of the most homophobic countries in the world today” given the abuse LGBTQ people face. He details the myriad ways, both in the legal system and extrajudicially, that even advocacy for greater equality has been curtailed. Horan explains the most recent developments:

“Reports make clear that this sort of intensified crack down on LGBTQ persons and human rights advocates began earlier this year when Ghana’s first LGBTQ community center was opened in February but was forced to close three weeks later due to homophobic pressure from politicians, antigay organizations and, you guessed it, church leaders.”

This involvement of Christians who comprise 70% of the nation’s population is disturbing for Horan who cites Ghanian sociologist Anima Adjepong as saying:

“‘The church also advances this argument that queer people in Ghana are abhorrent. And really the church promotes violent discourse against queer people about “throwing them into the ocean”, about how they “don’t belong here”, about how they’re “bringing the downfall of the society”.'”

Catholics are very much complicit in this discriminatory suppression. Church leaders joined efforts to shut down the LGBTQ community center earlier this year in collaboration with a Ghanian hate group. Horan describes the the Ghanian Catholic Bishops Conference’s (GCBC) involvement and adds his own comment:

“The GCBC statement says, in part, ‘We, the Catholic Bishops of Ghana, write to condemn all those who support the practice of homosexuality in Ghana. We also write to support the position of Lawyer Moses Foh-Amoaning and the Coalition who for years has been championing the crusade against homosexuality. We also commend other individuals who have spoken in condemnation of this practice. We do this because the Roman Catholic Church is opposed to this abominable practice.'”

“The Ghanaian bishops have unequivocally participated in and promoted the dehumanization of LGBTQ persons, which has resulted in increased discrimination and violence. Without irony, like so many homophobic church leaders elsewhere around the globe, the GCBC added a familiar, if farcical, disclaimer in the body of their hate speech: ‘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.'”

For Horan, it is not solely Ghana’s bishops who are responsible. Church leaders worldwide “cannot see the inherent contradictions of their statements” that “foment hatred and violence” while claiming to respect human dignity. The Franciscan theologian ends with an exhortation for Pride to confront Catholics’ complicity in anti-LGBTQ discrimination and abuse:

“[L]et us call to mind the manifold ways church leaders and everyday Christians blaspheme the sacred name of God and defame the church of Jesus Christ by using distorted views of scripture and tradition to justify crimes against humanity. May Christians and all people of good will stand up to anybody who violates the inherent dignity and value of all people through dehumanizing rhetoric and actions, whether in Ghana, the United States or anywhere else.”

Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, June 11, 2021

1 reply
  1. Tom Bower
    Tom Bower says:

    Why does Pope Francis allow the hierarchy of Ghana to get away with such hateful statements? This is putting real lives at risk. Even the catechism forbids such abuse. I know all of the reasons given for just waiting a while, but if nothing the 20th C showed hate doesn’t go away – just ask the Jews, gays, intellectuals and even Catholics who had to face the Nazi while the Church remained silent.

    Reply

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