In Line with Catholic Bishops’ Stance, Legislators in Ghana Pass Anti-LGBTQ+ Bill

Bishop Matthew Kwasi Gyamfi and Honourable Alban S. K. Bagbin, Speaker of Ghana’s Parliament. Credit: Catholic Trends

Lawmakers in Ghana have passed a new bill that makes identifying as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer or Questioning plus (LGBTQ+) illegal.

The Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill 2021 that Ghana’s parliament passed on Wednesday, February 28 also criminalizes the "wilful promotion, sponsorship, or support of LGBTQ+ activities".

Awaiting President Nana Akufo-Addo’s assent to become law in the West African nation, the new Bill imposes a prison sentence of up to three years for those found guilty of identifying as LGBTQ. Anyone convicted of forming, advocating for, or funding LGBTQ groups risks a jail term of up to five years.

Hon. Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, the Speaker of Ghana’s Parliament, has overseen the passage of the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill 2021 in its various stages.

Last July, the Bill that was in line with the stance of the members of the Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference (GCBC) was approved and adopted by the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs in the West African nation. 


In November 2023, GCBC members thanked Ghana’s legislators “for the work done so far on the Bill, particularly the commitment of the speaker, Rt. Hon. Alban K.S Bagbin to ensure the successful passing of the Bill.”

In a November 17 collective statement following their November 6 - 18 Plenary Assembly, Catholic Bishops in Ghana urged the country’s lawmakers to “expedite action” in the process of having the Bill become law.

The five-page statement highlighted various issues the Catholic Church leaders said they wanted the President Akufo-Addo-led government to address, including the demand that the Head of State assents to the Bill as soon as Parliament passes it.

According to BBC News, President Akufo-Addo has previously said that he would assent to the Bill “if the majority of Ghanaians want him to.”

Last December, GCBC members reiterated their support for the anti-LGBTIQ+ Bill in a statement that sought to clarify their stance on homosexuality.

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Titled, “The Catholic Church and the State on Homosexuality”, the December 11 statement noted that the “Church makes a distinction between the homosexual as a person and the acts that he may carry out as a homosexual person.”

Homosexual acts, GCBC members stated, are “intrinsically disordered and are in no case to be approved of. Thus, while the church does not condemn homosexuals for being homosexuals, it condemns the homosexual acts that they perform.”

“Thus, homosexuals should not be criminalized just for being homosexuals. Neither should they be maltreated nor attacked for being homosexuals. It is neither a sin nor a crime to be a homosexual. It is the acts that they perform that are sinful and should be condemned,” they emphasized in their effort to clarify their stance on homosexuality in the country. 

Catholic Bishops in Ghana issued their December 11 five-page statement days after a BBC interview with Ghanaian-born Peter Kodwo Appiah Cardinal Turkson on Hard Talk program provoked controversy.

In the November 27 interview, Cardinal Turkson, who serves as the Chancellor of the Roman Curia, said that his position has been “that LGBT, gay people may not be criminalized because they have committed no crime”.


In their December 11 statement, GCBC members expressed their awareness of the silence on the part of the Ghanaian government to condemn homosexual acts in clear terms.

They said, “The Church recognizes that the State has a duty to carry out in this matter of homosexuality. With regard to homosexual acts, while the Church speaks of them as sins, the State does not use such language.”

“The draft bill on Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values 2021 currently in Parliament is in the right direction, as it seeks to enact laws against criminal homosexual acts,” Catholic Bishops in Ghana said. 

The Bill, they explained, “aims to provide for proper human sexual rights and Ghanaian family values, proscribe LGBTQ+ and related activities, and provide for the protection of children, persons who are victims or accused of LGBTTQQIAAP+ and related activities, and other persons.”

Ghana is among the reported 31 African countries where homosexual activities are criminal. 

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In a January 9 report, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and Southern Africa laments that “across Africa, LGBTI persons find themselves contending with a disturbing regression of progress, facing relentless protests against their identities, and confronting formidable obstacles to their legal and social rights.”

Last December, the Catholic Church permitted members of the Clergy to impart “spontaneous” and non-liturgical blessings upon “same-sex couples” and couples in other “irregular situations” in the Vatican Declaration, Fiducia Supplicans (FS).

The December 18 Declaration of the Vatican Dicastery for the Doctrine of Faith (DDF) elicited mixed reactions and deep division among Catholic Bishops around the globe.

In a January 11 statement, the leadership of the Symposium of Episcopal Conference of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) announced that the Vatican DDF proposal will not be implemented on the continent.

Titled, “NO BLESSING FOR HOMOSEXUAL COUPLES IN THE AFRICAN CHURCHES: Synthesis of the responses from the African Episcopal Conferences to the Declaration Fiducia supplicans”, the statement by SECAM President, Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo, cited a previous DDF Declaration on homosexuality, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), the Sacred Scriptures, and the “cultural context in Africa” as the basis of the Catholic Bishops' decision against the implementation of FS in Africa.

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