Opinions Fri, 2 Feb 2018

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Ghana must guarantee gay rights

I do not know why people waste their time on this gay issue. It is none of my business when someone chooses to go for the front or back hole. It is none of my issue when someone chooses to be a prostitute. It is none of my business when someone chooses to marry more than one wife. Being gay is sinful, as is several other things we all do.

We Africans are very surprising creatures. With all these huge challenges we are facing as a nation and the lack of prosperity on this continent since God knows when, we still manage to make trivial issues so great as if those issues will provide food on the table. It is about time we realise as a people that we need to move forward with the world, and do the things that are going to be beneficial to us regardless of what religion or our ancestors or what we think is better.

How can you prevent someone from pursuing their own happiness JUST BECAUSE YOUR religion goes against being gay? If religious doctrine is the yardstick, then what if a religion emanates that supports or approves of homosexuality? Would you tell adherents of that religious doctrine that they should not follow their religion? If morality is the boundary, then no case! How can something really be morally wrong when it does not affect anybody negatively? Logically and common-sensically, a human being can have feelings for the same sex. Stop the illogical argument about even animals being able to distinguish between same and opposite sex. If you want humans to be doing what animals do then let us all start eating grass and drinking dirty water.

If your religion was to ask you to kill anyone who is not of your religion, would you really go about killing people you've known all your life? People you know to be good? Can't someone be gay and good at the same time? Just as someone is good and cheats on his wife...or as someone is good but does not take proper care of his children. I am referring to the goodness we all fall short of. The Bible itself says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. If you are a sinner, why prevent someone from committing a 'harmless' sin, assuming it is sin. What if somebody does not believe in religion? The person was created in God's world and not your world so you cannot decide to take away the person's rights because of your beliefs.

A new law in Nigeria prohibits civil unions and same-sex marriages and slaps a 10-year prison sentence on anyone who officiates at such a marriage. It also bans public displays of affection between people of the same sex. What? A country with such a huge population...steeped in poverty. African leaders have always failed their people. They use these issues to become popular trying to portray themselves as being strong. If they really are strong, why not work without being corrupt?

Ghana needs to take strong measures to guarantee the human rights of homosexuals in this country. When we agreed to go the democratic way, it did not only mean elections every four years. Democracy and human rights mean much more than that. It is actually because of the protection of EVERY Ghanaian that the 1992 constitution exists.

Same-sex couples should have access to the same benefits enjoyed by heterosexual married couples. This is only normal because they are human too and need to have equal rights with other members of the society. We cannot as a people claim to be democratic or guarantee the human rights of individuals when we intentionally discriminate against a segment of society. Whether we like it or not, some Ghanaians are homosexual in nature. Gay rights is undeniably protected by the Constitution's commitments to liberty and equality.

Also, Marriage is redefined as society's attitudes evolve. For example, inter-racial marriage in the U.S was widely prohibited in the past. Even in Ghana, in times past, inter-tribal marriages were prohibited by many tribes. Chiefs could 'capture' any woman in town and make her his wife. Modernity has made all that to be discarded from our current society. Painful and degrading traditional rites and practices have been discarded along the way because we have come to realise as a people that we all need to live at peace with each other and not harm each other or make society uninhabitable just because of religion or culture. We have come to realise as a people that the Holy Books do not live as humans. We do. We have come to realise that we need to accept each other’s unharmful differences and co-exist as modern beings.

Doing things that will bring you fulfillment in life has both physical and psychological health benefits. Allowing members of our society to associate with their same-sex partners will bring them fulfillment and will help create a happier society, without harming anyone.

Again, Ghanaians and Africans at large need to realise that allowing homosexuals their right to live and marry does not in any way endanger family values, neither will it harm heterosexual marriages. Both can co-exist in society. Besides, everybody has the right to choose the kind of partner they want. We should also recognise that marriage is not a religious institution. Marriage is a secular institution. People will marry whether they subscribe to religion or not and therefore marriage or dating should not be limited by religious objections.

If we keep claiming blindly that gays cannot give birth and that someday humans may be extinct then should we prevent infertile people from getting married or from dating the opposite sex as well? It is impossible that humans will someday become extinct because of a failure to reproduce.

Marriage is one of the basic civil rights of man. Should we now divide marriage into its type and abhor some and accept some? That would be very dangerous for human rights as this means that other human rights can be categorised into its types, with some typed respected, other types not respected. Every Ghanaian has the right to life. What if people categorised this right into types…the right to life of an alleged thief, the right to life of a perceived corrupt politician, the right to life of a prostitute etc. If we want human rights to be respected and absolutely obeyed in this country, then we need to absolutely protect the human rights of every citizen.

And back to the question I asked earlier. If our individual religions asked us to kill anyone who is not part of our religion, would we really go about killing each other? Or we would co-exist peacefully and live our lives and wait for God himself to judge. Every man is a sinner.

Ghana needs to guarantee and protect the human rights of homosexuals and they should be free to be who they are. Society can evolve once again.

Columnist: Salifu Muammar Al-Qathafi

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