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Catholic Bishops in Ghana Support Government Bill to Outlaw Homosexual Practices

Logo of the Ghana Catholic Bishops' Conference (GCBC). Credit: GCBC

Members of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference (GCBC) have written to the Ghanaian parliament expressing their support of a bill that seeks to illegalize homosexual practices in the country.

In their statement circulated on Thursday, October 7, the Catholic Bishops describe homosexual practices such as marriage between people of the same sex as “abominable”, saying that the acts have no place in the West African country.

“We, the Catholic Bishops of Ghana, write in support of the draft Bill presented to Parliament to make homosexual practices illegal in Ghana,” the Catholic Bishops say in the statement dated September 28.

They add, “Our voice needs to be heard on this matter not only because, in our view, it is morally unacceptable but also because according to the 2010 population census, the Catholic Church in Ghana constitutes a sizable percentage of the population, that is, about 13.1 per cent of the population of Ghana.”

“As a Church, we want this abominable practice made illegal in our country,” GCBC members say.

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They base their views on the Bible and Homosexuality, arguing that the Bible, which is foundational to Christian beliefs and practices, condemns homosexuality.

“In the Old Testament, this practice was seen as a perversion and a pagan abomination,” the Catholic Bishops say, making reference to various passages from the Bible, including Leviticus 18:22 which reads, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman: it is an abomination.”

According to the Catholic Bishops in Ghana, a homosexual activity is not a complementary union, able to transmit life. Such acts, the Bishops say, “thwart the call to a life … which the Gospel says is the essence of Christian living.”

In July, lawmakers in Ghana proposed a bill that would punish displays of same-sex affection and advocacy for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community rights with up to a decade in prison.

The Washington Post lists potential offenses including organizing efforts to support sexual minorities, donating to such causes and posting “encouraging messages” on social media.

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Catholic Bishops in Ghana have, in the past, condemned proponents of homosexuality in the West African nation and urged government authorities “to state unambiguously their position on the matter.”

“We the Catholic Bishops in Ghana write to condemn all those who support the practice of homosexuality in Ghana,” GCBC members said in in their February 19 letter.

In the September 28 statement, Catholic Bishops in Ghana say that the Church makes a distinction between the homosexual condition or tendency and “individual homosexual actions.”

“For the Church, the latter (individual actions) is intrinsically disordered and is in no case to be approved of. In other words, while the Church does not condemn people for being homosexuals or for having the homosexual tendency, it condemns the homosexual acts that homosexuals perform,” they assert in a statement signed by the GCBC President, Archbishop Philip Naameh of Ghana’s Tamale Archdiocese.

The leaders of the Catholic Church in Ghana argue that 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.

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The leaders insist that the Church rejects what they refer to as the “unfounded and demeaning assumption” that the sexual behavior of homosexual persons is always and very compulsive and therefore, they should not be blamed for their homosexual acts.

The Catholic Bishops, however, clarify that even though the Church strongly condemns homosexual acts, it insists that the rights of homosexuals as persons should be respected.

“Homosexuals are also human beings, created in the image of God, and they should enjoy the same fundamental human rights that all people enjoy,” GCBC members say in their statement, and pose, “However, what are these human rights?”

“By human rights, we mean the universal, inviolable and inalienable rights that are due to the human person as a rational being possessing a free will. Human rights protect, or are intended to protect the dignity of the human person against State and Society.”

Particular human rights, the Catholic Bishops clarify, “include the right: to life, personal liberty and due process of law; to freedom of thought, expression, religion, organization, and movement; to freedom from discrimination on the basis of race, religion, age, language, and sex; to basic education to employment; and to property.”

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The members of GCCBC note that the Church’s understanding of human rights clarifies that the rights of homosexuals as persons do not include the right of a man to marry a man or of a woman to marry a woman.

“For the Church, this is morally wrong and goes against God's purpose for marriage,” they say in reference to same-sex marriages.

“We should also point out that the European Court for Human Rights has ruled that same-sex marriages are not considered a human right, making it clear that homosexual partnerships do not in fact equal marriages between a man and a woman,” they say.

The Catholic Church leaders have however, underscored the need to respect everyone irrespective of their sexual inclinations.

“It is not right to subject homosexuals to any form of harassment simply because they are homosexuals,” the Catholic Bishops say in their report, and add, “The intrinsic dignity of each person must always be respected in word, in action and in law. Homosexuals must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity.”

They further say, “According to Pope Francis, the homosexual person needs to be respected in his or her dignity and treated with consideration, and every sign of unjust discrimination is to be carefully avoided, particularly any form of aggression or violence.”