, 05 March, 2020 / 11:30 PM
Following the wide circulation of a poster publicizing a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) community conference in Ghana’s capital, Accra, Ghana, an Archbishop in the West African country has decried the choice of Ghana as the host country to the conference and urged Ghanaians to uphold their religious values as the society becomes "more difficult."
The 5th edition of the Pan African conference on the theme “Sankofa: looking back to our roots- reclaiming our rights” scheduled to be held in Accra from July 27 to 31 for the LGBTQ community within the country has not been well received by the public.
“We have heard about the “sankofa” of the lesbians and gays who are planning to have their meeting here in our country, Ghana. Why Ghana!” Archbishop John Bonaventure Kwofie exclaimed in his last Sunday’s homily at St. Bakhita Catholic Church, Lashibi, a suburb of Accra.
The Archbishop who was also marking his first Anniversary of installation as the Local Ordinary of Accra on March 1 added, “If it is true, we need to speak against it because our values do not allow us to do that. For us Christians and Muslims, we have values which we endeavour to live by no matter the circumstances of life.”
The “Sankofa” is a metaphorical symbol used by the Akan people of Ghana, generally depicted as a multicolored bird with its head turned backward, expressing the importance of reaching back to knowledge gained in the past and the importance of new learning as time passes.
Relating the “Sankofa” initiative to the Gospel reading of the First Sunday of Lent, March 1, Archbishop Kwofie said, “the devil came with all the tricks but couldn’t succeed, while all these were going on, it was at the end of the temptations that the angels came to minister to him. Saint Luke in the scriptural text attests to the fact that “he left for a while”, meaning by that the devil will return at the opportune time to test him again.”
The member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans) also related the initiative to Jews who held onto their faith and conviction and were willing to die just because they refused to eat pork. He expressed worry that “now, we lack conviction and freely engage in the vices of the world.”
The activities of LGBTQ have been a concern to many Ghanaians, with some people condemning the community in public.
One such vociferous anti-LGBTQ activist is Moses Foh-Amoaning, a senior law lecturer and anti-gay rights convener, who has called on the Ghanaian government to deny visas to organizers of an impending conference on LGBTI rights in Accra.
Foh-Amoaning, Executive Director of the National Coalition for Proper Human Sexual Rights and Family Values said the government has to introduce a comprehensive plan to bar gay activities in the country.
“We will also issue a statement to the South African government, because we hear they are based in South Africa. We will tell them that they cannot misuse our national motives,” Foh-Amoaning said.
Alluding to alleged previous LGBTQ conferences which reportedly failed to materialize, the Ghanaian academic said the planned 2020 conference, similarly wouldn’t take off.
“It is illegal in Ghana. How can you have such a conference here in Ghana? It will not happen, trust me,” he said and probed, “In 2001 they said it will happen but did it happen? Even in those days, we were not organized. What makes them think now that we are organized, they can have it done when they know that the law prohibits it?”
In a 2019 Communique, the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference (GCBC) maintained a harsh stance against the Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE), which they said is aimed to create acceptance around LGBTQ issues.
“We already have an acceptable sex education in our educational system. As a nation, therefore, we must make our position unequivocally clear and put in place measures that will stop those who propagate this evil agenda,” the Bishops said.
The Ghanaian Prelates added in their collected message, “While we recognize that there are people with these abnormal sexual orientations and request that they be treated and helped, we oppose very strongly any CSE that teaches the acceptance of LGBTQ and same sex marriages as normal.”
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa