Anyenini LegalLight: Ghana law prohibits homosexuality?

Samson Lardy Anyenini GEG Lawyer Samson Lardy Anyenini

Mon, 22 Feb 2021 Source: Samson Lardy Anyenini

I am back to this subject. It is a most appropriate time with news about LGBTQI presence in Ghana – whatever that means. The Catholic Bishops Conference has issued a statement giving education why it must not be tolerated and seeking to know the President’s stance, and this is not the first time.

The minister-designate for Gender and Social Protection fell into the often repeated error when she told the Appointments Committee of Parliament that homosexuality is prohibited in Ghana by law.

Many including political leaders have always referred to the same Section 104(1)(b) of the Criminal Offences Act to make the inaccurate assertion. The provision of that law borrowed in 1960 from those who are now changing it declares thus: “A person who has unnatural carnal knowledge of another person of not less than sixteen years of age with the consent of that other person commits a misdemeanour”.

Get this, what it criminalizes is unnatural carnal knowledge. What then is meant by unnatural carnal knowledge in law? The only definition is what we inherited from the same people. Unnatural carnal knowledge, at common law, means penile penetration of anything other than the vagina.

Consequently, this law only prohibits a man from putting his penis into anything other than a woman’s vagina for sex. If a man engaged in a sexual act with another man he will be guilty and may suffer the maximum penalty of three years in jail. Dr. Ali Gabass is serving a 25-year jail term for sodomising a 16-year-old boy.

If a woman engaged in a sexual act with another woman (say Lesbianism) she will not be guilty of the offence. Again, is a man or a woman engaged in whatever they call sex with a man or a woman caught by this law where there is no penile penetration?

What acts are homosexuals or LGBTQI people engaged in? I leave that to what you know or can imagine. It appears the law criminalised one thing and left everything else related to LGBTQI or did not anticipate LGBTQI.

We better start thinking about what to do and fast!

That’s your Legal Light

Samson Lardy ANYENINI


Columnist: Samson Lardy Anyenini