Ghana’s president Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo- Addo has said the issue of same-sex relationships was not on the agenda of the West African country. He, however, believes that its snowball effect will soon reach Africa.
Akufo-Addo was speaking in an interview with Gulf news channel, Al Jazeera, during which he addressed a series of national, continental and global issues.
Asked why homosexuality remained a criminal offence in Ghana, the president said, “I dont believe that in Ghana so far a sufficiently strong coalition has emerged which is having that impact of public opinion that will say, change it; let’s then have a new paradigm in Ghana.”
At the moment, I don't feel and I don't see that in Ghana there is that strong current of opinion that is saying that this is something that we need even deal with. It is not so far a matter which is on the agenda.
He adds that like in other parts of the world, it will take the activities of groups and individuals to try bringing it up for discussion.
“At the moment, I don’t feel and I don’t see that in Ghana there is that strong current of opinion that is saying that this is something that we need even deal with. It is not so far a matter which is on the agenda.”
A lawyer by training, the president recounted his days as a young boy in England where homosexuality was banned and illegal, a time when politicians thought it was an anathema to be homosexual saying he believed the same processes will bring about changes.
His views are slightly moderate to that of Ghana’s third most powerful man, Speaker of parliament Mike Ocquaye, who is an ardent anti-gay rights activist. In his most recent pronouncement on the issue he said Africa was getting tired of the seeming cultural imposition.
“Following what Tony Blair said which I personally wrote him a letter that if we do not go the homosexual way, it was going to affect their aid to us. Honestly in view of these developments, we Africans are also concerned about certain things that may appear really intellectual.
‘‘It is becoming a human right in some countries. The right to do homosexuality. The right for a human being to sleep with an animal. We are tired of some of these things and we must be frank about it. I think all these matters need to be seriously interrogated …,” he said in July this year.
Ghanaians like most Africans are known to be stiffly opposed to same-sex relationships which are considered to be against socio – cultural, communal and religious teachings. Most people who try coming out have been heavily slammed for engaging in acts seen as ungodly.
In 2012, the then-U.K. Prime Minister, David Cameron, warned African countries that they risked aid cuts if they failed to respect gay rights. Ghana’s president at the time, the late John Evans Atta Mills, rejected the threat stating that the UK could not impose its values on Ghana.
As at 2012, some 41 nations within the 54-member Commonwealth have laws banning homosexual acts. Incidentally, many of these laws are a legacy of British colonial rule. Former Gambian leader Yahya Jammeh had promised to slit the throats of homosexuals.
The latest African government that has warned same-sex couples is Tanzania. At a recent rally, Tanzania’s Home Affairs Minister Mwigulu Nchemba said both domestic and foreign campaigners for gay rights would now face punitive measures in the country.
“Those who want to campaign for gay rights should find another country that allows those things,” Nchemba said in the capital Dodoma.
“If we establish that any organisation registered in our country is campaigning for gay rights … I will deregister that organisation. If a Tanzanian national is doing that campaign, we will arrest him and take him to court … and if it is a foreigner, we will immediately order him to leave the country.”