West African Humanist Network urges politicians to stop fueling hatred and persecution of gay people in the region.
The statement has become necessary following some homophobic pronouncements and remarks by politicians in Ghana. Commenting at a recent meeting with the clergy, Mr John Mahama, the National Democratic Congress’ presidential candidate in this year’s election, claimed that he was against gay marriage because same-sex relationships were incompatible with his Christian faith.
He reportedly said: “The faith I have will not allow me to accept a man marrying a man, and a woman marrying a woman…I don’t believe that anybody can get up and say I feel like a man although I was born a woman, and so I will change and become a man”.
Before now, other politicians have made statements sanctioning discrimination and persecution of gays in Ghana. The president of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, said while addressing an Anglican church community in February 2021 that same sex relationships would not be legalized under his presidency. His statement elicited thunderous applause from ardent attendees at the event, including clerics. The speaker of the parliament, Alban Bagbin, said that he would rather die than support the rights of gay people.
Unfortunately, politicians allude to their faiths to justify their opposition to gay rights.
It is pertinent to remind politicians that Ghana is a secular country, not a religious state. The constitution guarantees equal rights for all Ghanaians without discrimination.
The West African Humanist Network condemns the wave of hatred and persecution of LGBTQ+ persons in the region. As the presidential election draws near, the network urges candidates of the various parties to exercise caution and wisdom. They should desist from playing politics with the rights of LGBTQ+ persons in Ghana. Politicians should learn to separate religion from politics. They should realize that gay people are human beings, they are citizens. And their rights are human rights. Politicians should campaign to represent all citizens, both gay and straight, and protect the rights of minorities They should campaign as democrats, not as Christian or Muslim theocrats. Politicians should strive to govern based on the constitution, not according to their faiths and beliefs.
Leo Igwe is a member of the West African Humanist Network.