ANGLICAN bishops in Ghana have spoken out about the proposed criminalisation of LGBTQ people and their allies in their country, after weeks of speculation and an intervention by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
In a statement issued last Friday, the House of Bishops in Ghana says that sections of the draft Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill, currently before the Ghanaian Parliament, were “severe and must be reviewed”.
The statement, signed by the Ghanaian Archbishop, Dr Cyril Kobina Ben-Smith, confirms that an online meeting was held with Archbishop Welby in November (News, 12 November 2021).
It says: “We agreed that, though human dignity is always dominant, LGBTQI+ activities are frowned upon by the Ghanaian ethnicity and therefore, traditions, values, cultural and social frameworks must not also only be regarded but, respected and appreciated.
“Nevertheless, Ghanaian citizens must not use the bill as an avenue to assault persons with homosexual orientation but show love to them as the Church of Jesus Christ is called to demonstrate the love of God by protecting all vulnerable people and groups. Acts of harassment, intimidation, and hostilities against LGBTQ+ people should be condemned.
“We affirm and are committed to the 1998 Lambeth Conference Resolution 1.10 in its entirety. For us, this represents the last and most widely accepted statement by the Anglican Communion on the question of human sexuality.
“We further agree that, the criminalization of sections of the bill are severe and must be reviewed. Rather we propose a transformational agenda.
“Generally, we, as a Church in Ghana, seek to strengthen Ghanaian family life by promoting Human Sexual Rights that is supported and accepted by Ghanaian family values.”
The draft Bill imposes a maximum of five years in prison for someone identifying as LGBTQ, and makes advocating LGBTQ rights a crime punishable by up to ten years in prison (News, 15 October).
In November, Archbishop Welby apologised for not speaking directly to the Ghanaian bishops before issuing his statement expressing “grave concern” about their reported support for the legislation, in October. He told the General Synod that month that the Anglican Church in Ghana did not, contrary to reports, endorse the proposed criminalisation of the LGBTQ community (News, 19 November 2021).
Last week’s statement is the first public confirmation of this.
Ghana is an internal province of the Church of the Province of West Africa.