The Leadership of Parliament is to meet the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of the House over delays in the passage of the anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning (LGBTQ) bill.
Mr Andrews Amoako Asiamah, the Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, presiding as Speaker, urged the Leadership to ensure that the meeting was held by the end of next week to find out the challenges the Committee was facing about the passage of the “Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Value Bill, 2021”.
The Second Deputy Speaker gave the directive on the floor of the House on Wednesday when Mr Kwame Anyimadu Antwi, the Chairman of the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, made a statement in response to a remark by Mr Emmanuel Kwame Bedrah, the Member of Parliament for Ho West on Tuesday, expressing worry on the delay in the passage of the Bill.
The private member’s Bill, which is currently before Committee, seeks to criminalize the activities of LGBTQ in the country.
Mr Antwi, who drew the House’s attention to the Criminal and other Offences Amendment Bill, said yesterday (Tuesday, June 7) in the morning he was at the Attorney-General’s Office to discuss the conclusion of the Bill.
“And when I came in, my attention was drawn to the fact that Honourable Bedzrah raised an issue that a Bill that is before the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs is being delayed,” he stated.
“Under normal circumstances, Mr Speaker I won’t have been bothered but this is going on in the airwaves.”
He further drew the House’s attention that there were several Bills pending before the Committee.
He reiterated that when the referral was made to the Committee after the first reading, they had not even come to the second reading and that when they come to the second reading, they would discuss the principles, after which Members of the House would have the opportunity as for the consideration stage to debate the Bill clause by clause before a third reading was made.
Mr Antwi said when the referral was made to the Committee, they in accordance with the practice of the House, advertised to the public that they had received about 187 memoranda on this Bill, which they had grouped and had held public hearings at the last meeting.
He said the timetable of the Committee was that after the public hearing they would do an in-camera hearing, stating that the Committee last week started the in-camera hearing.
“I want to set the records straight that the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, is on course as far as bills are concerned,” the Chairman said.
On when the Committee would submit the report to the House, Mr Antwi said he could not be specific on it; saying “as we all know in this House, I would pray that nobody should actually be ceding to the pressures that are coming from outside”.
He said the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs had never rested in handling bills that were before it.
Mr Antwi said the Bill would have to go through the processes before it would be finally passed by the House; stating that “we must take our time so that we would pass a law that would withstand the test of time. We just cannot rash through with this Bill.”
“The members of the public are very much interested in the Bill, and we are leaving no stone unturned to make sure that we pass a law that would withstand the test of time.”
Mr Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka, the Minority Chief Whip, said it was unfortunate that Mr Bedzrah was not in the House to respond, and that however, the concern of members about the unnecessary delay of the Bill had to be laid at the doorstep of the Chairman of the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.
He said the if anti-LGBTQ Bill was not passed by the House; the Minority side would resist any other Bill that was laid before the House.