TOLERANCE AND THE DEBATE ABOUT HOMOSEXUALITY IN GHANA
The pending legislation about homosexuality in Ghana has led to unfortunate manifestations of intolerance. Parliament is considering a bill that would criminalize certain aspects of homosexual conduct in Ghana.
In response, significant segments of the community, including Christian, Muslim and traditional authorities have offered support. On the other hand, there is an impressive array of intellectuals and government officials who are opposing the proposed bill. Indeed, a significant part of the diplomatic community too, has weighed in, to oppose the bill.
My goal today, is not to opine on the merits of the bill. Indeed, I wish, in the words of the sages, we had “allowed sleeping dogs to lie”. The homosexual community, in my view, were doing fine, in their private spaces, subject to the protections of the law accorded to all citizens.
Unfortunately, the opposition to the bill, motivated by the noble desire to promote tolerance for our homosexual community, has been characterized by intolerance.
Some lawmakers, including the bill’s sponsor, Sam George have been threatened publicly and privately. Calls have been made to the Speaker, threatening MPs. Some have been denied visas and warned to stay away from this issue. It is sad that this intimidation is coming mainly from the Western diplomatic community.
In addition to democracy and the rule of law, the West exemplifies, to the eternal admiration of people like me, the attitude of tolerance. It is at the heart of multi-party democracy and the support of minority rights etc that make the West such a powerful example to the rest of the world.
As JFK put it, “Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one’s own beliefs. Rather, it condemns the oppression or persecution of others.”.
The West argued that dealing with China and Russia was better than isolating them. The West insisted on constructive engagement with Apartheid South Africa while we beat War drums. They were right.. Let us not fight intolerance with intolerance.
The next time there is an election dispute or tribal fighting and the West comes preaching tolerance, it would help if opportunists cannot remind us of Western intolerance!
The problem of this bill is not the Parliament. It is reflecting public opinion. Let us continue to educate the public.
Finally, to Parliament, continue this new attitude, by championing the interest of the public for Healthcare, jobs and for fighting the canker of corruption.
Long live tolerance.
Long live Ghana.
Arthur Kobina Kennedy
(11th October, 2021)