One of Ghana’s top bishops has announced the creation of conversion therapy facilities, which the bishop is alleged to have said that this initiative will help stop homosexuality from causing Ghana to become a Muslim-majority nation.
The comments by Archbishop Philip Naameh of Tamale, who serves as president of the Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference, were reported by Joy Online and CNN. Naameh stated that the church treats homosexuality as a medical condition and, as such, it can be treated with medical interventions. Joy Online’s report continued:
“‘We also think that this is also not just anti, we have put out there, a holistic treatment for people who are already involved in gay, to treat them because some of them are already experiencing hormonal imbalances and that is pushing them there,’ [Naameh] said.
“He also argued that homosexuality is not a way of life; therefore, ‘anytime they decide, they should know that we are committed to treating them and making them normal human beings to engage in normal sexual and family relationships, so we are concerned about the health and welfare of the people.’
“The Archbishop explained that a crack team of experts have been identified to help those who admit they need treatment without exposing their identity.”
In dispute are alleged comments by Naameh about why he is so concerned about homosexuality in the country. Ghana Web reported about additional comments by the archbishop, who seems to believe lesbian and gay people only exist among Christians:
“[Naameh] holds that embracing same-sex relations in Ghana could give Muslims the chance to outgrow Christians in the country and thus establish themselves as the most dominant religion. . .
“‘Those who are promoting gays and lesbians are not going to have children at all, and within a short time nobody should be surprised that Muslims will become a majority in this country and declare it an Islamic state,” Archbishop Philip Naameh. . .told CNN.”
Naameh claimed in a press release that the comments about a Muslim takeover were misreported, saying “the statement attributed to me is false” and that the reporting of it seeks to “court disaffection and break the force of formidable coalition behind the bill,” according to Joy Online.
Yesterday, Bondings 2.0 reported on the Ghanaian bishops’ support for proposed legislation that would further criminalize LGBTQ people as well as any advocacy in support of them. The legislation could mean LGBTQ people face up to five years in prison simply for their identity.
If true, the announcement that Catholic leaders are actively promoting conversion therapy, indeed establishing facilities where it can occur is deeply condemnable. Archbishop Naameh misrepresents magisterial teaching, which does not treat homosexuality as a medical condition, and defies Pope Francis, who has expressed concerns with “ex-gay” practices. Even if church teaching disapproves of same-gender sexual activity, there is absolutely no basis for the violation of human rights, especially in the forms of conversion therapy and criminalization.
To repeat yesterday’s blog commentary, Pope Francis and Vatican officials need to reject in strong terms the Ghanian bishops’ anti-LGBTQ statements and actions as inconsistent with church teaching and practice.
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@example.com.
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 13, 2021