Ghana’s Bishops Endorse Bill to Criminalize “Abominable Practice” of Homosexuality

Catholic bishops of Ghana

Ghana’s Catholic bishops have endorsed a bill that seeks to criminalize LGBTQ people, saying they desired this “abominable practice” be made illegal.

Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference issued a statement as legislators take up the legislation, titled “The Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill, 2021,” for debate this month. Modern Ghana reported:

“The Bishops’ Conference said in a statement that the Catholic church, of which about 13.1% of the population are members, is completely against LGBTQI+.

“‘As a church, we want this abominable practice made illegal in our country’, the statement said, adding: ‘The Bible, which is foundational to Christian beliefs and practices, condemns the practice’.

“The Catholic Bishops said: ‘Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered towards an intrinsic moral evil, and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder’.

“‘The Church rejects the unfounded and demeaning assumption that the sexual behaviour of homosexual persons is always and very compulsive and, therefore, they should not be blamed for their homosexual acts.'”  [Editor’s note:  The last two quotes from the bishops’ statement are directly quoted from the 1986 “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons” issued by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.]

The bishops’ statement also denied that LGBQ people have a right to equal marriage, and added that, “it is not right to subject homosexuals to any form of harassment simply because they are homosexuals.”

The bill the bishops endorsed would add to existing law criminalizing LGBTQ people. Reuters reported:

“Gay sex is already punishable with up to three years in jail in Ghana, where homophobic persecution is widespread. The bill would also impose a penalty of up to five years imprisonment for being LGBT+ and of 10 years for advocating for their rights.

“Online platforms or media companies publishing information deemed to support LGBT+ people or challenge traditional binary male and female gender identities could also be prosecuted.

“The draft law promotes so-called conversion therapy by allowing flexible sentencing for an LGBT+ person if they request ‘treatment’ to change their sexual orientation or gender identity. . .”

According to Reuters, there seems to be sufficient political support for the bill to pass, though concerns linger about how passage might impact Ghana’s reputation on the international stage, and in particular with external donors.

That Ghana’s bishops endorsed this legislation is not surprising given their vehemently anti-LGBTQ record. Earlier this year, Bondings 2.0 reported on church leaders’ influence in closing down the nation’s first LGBTQ community center.

In 2015, during the Synod on the Family, Bondings 2.0 asked Ghanian Archbishop Charles Palmer-Buckle about African church leaders’ stance on criminalizing homosexuality. At the time, the archbishop asked for time for countries to “deal with issues from our own cultural perspectives” because “we are trying.” He appealed, “Be patient with Africa.”

Six years on, Ghana’s church leaders have not led their country to greater LGBTQ acceptance. It does not even seem they tried. Rather, today they are lead instigators for policies that incite hate against and do real violence to LGBTQ people. If Ghana’s bishops and political leaders insist on this course, people globally need to intervene in defense of LGBTQ people’s lives. One clear step by Catholics could be a statement from the Vatican rejecting the position of Ghana’s bishops and reiterating magisterial opposition to LGBTQ criminalization.

Since 2015, Catholics have been asking Pope Francis to condemn anti-LGBTQ criminalization through New Ways Ministry’s #PopeSpeakOut campaign. If you would like to contact the pope about Ghana’s bishops, you can find information on how to do so here.

To contact Cardinal Peter Turkson, the prefect of the Dicastery for Integral Human Development who is from Ghana, email [email protected].

For New Ways Ministry’s full list of resources on anti-LGBTQ criminalization, including a chronology of Catholic leaders’ positive and negative statements on the issue, click here.

Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, October 12, 2021

6 replies
  1. Barbara Cotter
    Barbara Cotter says:

    This is so sad and disgraceful. Have no idea what the Bishops of Ghana are reading or praying about. The Jesus I follow would never turn anyone away who came to ask for healing and forgiveness. Perhaps that is what the Bishops of Ghana should do.

  2. Tom Bower
    Tom Bower says:

    Presuming Pope Francis is well informed, he really needs to make use of the quotes Fr. James Martin quotes about the Pope’s welcome of LGBT people in the face of the Ghanaian bishop’s continuing acts of hate. It is nice to be warm and pleasant to a Western audience where there has been a recent change toward acceptance for LGBT people, but as long as there is any standard of LGBT abuse being endorsed by organized Catholic voices the Pope must use his voice to be specific about the need for a change. Just hoping for a gradual change only leads to a horrible result for people trying to be true to the nature God gave us. If the Pope is the vicar of Christ he must be willing to make powerful statement for the good, even at great risk.

  3. Thomas Ellison
    Thomas Ellison says:

    I really don’t care what the bishops of Ghana say or think. I knew a Ghanian priest here in the U.S. assigned to a parish we attended at the time. He was a wonderful, insightful and humble man. We used to say “he’ll be a Bishop someday.” He wouldn’t endorse hate.

    DON E SIEGAL says:

    Criminalization of Homosexuality

    Pardon the dark humor, but is this the Westlake Baptist sect of the Roman Catholic Church? Among supposedly well-educated men, why is there such rampant ignorance? I’m sure that these errant beliefs are sincerely held by these bishops; however, their outrageous support of the criminalization of homosexuality has reached the level of a heresy against the social justice teachings of the Church. As such, Pope Francis and the Magisterium in Rome must make strong official public statements against such unjust laws.

    If the experiences of these bishops prevail in the Synod on Synodality the process will be doomed to failure.


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