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Anti-LGBTQ+ Bill and human rights violation in Ghana

Thu, 21 Oct 2021 Source: Jonathan Mensah

The articulation of the need for justice, tolerance, mutual respect, and human dignity are human rights. We are allowed to express the idea that all individuals are part of the scope of morality and justice.

To protect human rights is to ensure that people receive some degree of decent, humane treatment.

To violate the most basic human rights, on the other hand, is to deny individuals their fundamental moral entitlements. It is in a sense, to treat them as if they are inhuman and undeserving of respect and dignity.

The ongoing debate on the LGBTQ+bill in parliament is a cause for concern. This 38-page private members bill is titled “Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values bill 2021.

It criminalises the promotion, advocacy, funding and acts of LGBTQ+in the country. People are liable on summary conviction to not less than three years and not more than five years in prison when it becomes law.

The bill has been opposed by academics and other professionals claiming that if it becomes law it would infringe fundamental human rights. This should not be ignored because these group of people are knowledgeable and they understand the constitution.

It is important to note that transgender is not something which is a fad or a lifestyle choice and as such transgender people deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.If you are not recognised as being the gender you are, it’s extremely damaging.

It is worth reminding Ghanaians that transgender people (kodjo besia)have been around for as long as history has been recorded. These people pose no danger to our society.

There is a medical term to people who experience a difference between their sex and gender called gender dysphoria which is transgender. Transitioning of this condition involves social, physical and legal changes.

The treatment for gender dysphoria aims at helping people live the way they want to, in their preferred gender identity or as non-binary.

Gender dysphoria clinics have been set up where adults who think they may have gender dysphoria are referred to. These clinics have a multidisciplinary team of health care professionals who offer ongoing assessments, treatments, support and advice, including psychological support, such as counselling,cross-sex hormone therapy, voice therapy to help them sound more typical of their gender identity.

For some people support and advice are all they need to feel comfortable with their gender identity.

Others will need more extensive treatments such as hormone therapy and surgery.

Children under the age of 18 years, who may have gender dysphoria will be seen by a multidisciplinary team including a clinical psychologist, child psychotherapist, child and adolescent psychiatrist, family therapist and social worker who will carry out a detailed assessment, usually over 3 to 6 appointments over a period of several months.

Most treatments offered at this stage are psychological rather than medical. This is because in many cases gender-variant behaviour or feelings disappear as children reach puberty.

It is regrettable to think what sort of country Ghana is, if people are imprisoned because of their difficulties.

We need to understand that we are part of a global system where human rights are essential. This means that the transgenders have a right like women’s rights, racial equality and disability rights.

For example right to bodily autonomy, the right to self-determination rather than physical attributes determining the options open to them, freedom of limits and stereotypes placed on them by society, freedom from interpersonal and state violence.

My understanding of the promotion of proper human sexual rights is the development of the individual, group, institutional, community and systematic strategies to improve sexual knowledge.

Typical activities include raising awareness about normal sexual behaviour. Empowering behaviour change and actions through increased knowledge. Promoting Ghanaian family values means valuing elders, showing kindness, self-compassion, integrity, responsibility, mutual respect, honesty flexibility and fairness.

If there are strategies to be used who needs laws that violate the rights of people? The Christian Council of Ghana has failed to understand that human rights are based on equality for all people, discrimination against certain people and freedom of privacy.

It is therefore wrong for them to say that homosexuality is not a human right.

The world is interconnected socially, economically and politically and so the actions of nations are monitored. I am therefore not surprised to learn that some countries are refusing visas to Ghanaians.

This shows that our human rights record is tainted by the anti-LBGTQ+ Bill. There is still hope to strengthen governance and policies to make sexuality choices accessible to all and create sustainable systems through which we utilise the transformational potential of comprehensive sexuality promotion.

Columnist: Jonathan Mensah
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