The needless debate about homosexuality in Africa

Gay Berekum1 Homosexuality is illegal in a number of African countries

Thu, 30 Nov 2017 Source: Arthur Kennedy

Once again, Ghana has been side-tracked into a needless debate about homosexuality. The President of Ghana was asked about gays and stated that he felt the time was not ripe for consideration of legislation legalizing homosexuality in Ghana.

While his answer was truthful, it recalled the answers of former Presidents Mills of Ghana, Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Sall of Senegal. Unlike the President, the others had been firm in opposing homosexuality. And they had solid support across Africa for their opposition.

This pre-occupation with debates on gay rights have been fuelled by the West-- particularly, liberals in America. As soon as the Obama administration accepted gay marriage, they started pushing African governments to fall in line. The irony is that the issue is far from settled even in America and the West.

There is, of course, a bit of hypocrisy on both sides of the debate. That however, is for the debate gays in Africa when and if it occurs, probably in the next century.

My point today though is that this debate is a luxury Africa should NOT indulge in. We have slavery in Libya.

Our unemployed youth are marching across the Sahara and dying in the desert or drowning in the Mediterranean Sea. Our streets are filled with garbage and many of us do not have access to clean toilets.

We have child labour and domestic violence.

And we are wasting precious time discussing the legalization of homosexuality? Why, Africa, why?

Most ordinary Ghanaians or Africans do not know an actual person who is gay beside T.V. characters.

Indeed, these periodic efforts to make homosexuality a big issue does nothing except bring unwanted attention to the few homosexuals who are free to do whatever with whoever they choose in private as long as it is consensual.

Too often, Africa's elite, while shunning the examples of accountability and transparency from the West, gets pre-occupied with Western trivia. These issues are issues of mature, affluent societies that can afford to take their eyes off issues like bread, butter and basic rights. As my mother was fond of saying, "the fact that your neighbour goes to church in kente does not mean you must do the same."

Let us discuss issues whose solutions will affect the masses.

If the West wants to help us advance rights, let them join us in tackling child labour, slavery, the rights of working people and the right of every African to shit on a good, clean toilet every day.

Africa must focus on the issues of the masses.

Columnist: Arthur Kennedy