Ghana passes bill that seeks to imprison LGBTQ people for up to three years

Ruling party and opposition joined forces on legislation which legalises discrimination and criminalises financing LGBTQ groups

Ghana has passed a bill that seeks up to three years in prison for people identifying as an LGBTQ person, becoming the latest African nation after Uganda to pass draconian laws aimed at the community.

The ruling party and opposition legislators joined forces in 2021 to sponsor the bill, which also criminalises financing LGBTQ groups and legalises discrimination. A final version of the Human Sexual Rights and Family Values Bill wasn’t immediately available after parliamentary proceedings Wednesday.

Outgoing president Nana Akufo-Addo, who will hand over power following elections on December 7th, would still need to sign the bill into law.

“Signing this bill would mean that the president has given us up as Ghanaian citizens and granted permission for violence and discrimination to be meted out on us,” said Alex Kofi Donkor, the director of activist group LGBT+ Rights Ghana. “This is a hate bill.”


The West African nation – considered a regional exemplar of democracy – has joined several other nations such as Tanzania and Kenya where moves have been afoot to curtail LGBTQ rights. Last May, Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni approved anti-gay legislation that prescribes the death sentence for some offences, spurring the US to terminate the east African nation’s preferential trade status. The World Bank also halted new funding to Uganda over the law.

“The bill seeks to criminalise any person who simply identifies as LGBTQI+, as well as any friend, family, or member of the community who does not report them,” the US state department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement.

“International business coalitions have already stated that such discrimination in Ghana would harm business and economic growth in the country.”

Homosexuality is outlawed in 31 out of the continent’s 55 countries, according to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association database. Some nations have however made progress on rights. Gabon’s senate voted in 2020 to decriminalise homosexuality and Botswana joined South Africa and Angola in 2019 to do the same.

In Ghana, there have been increased reports of police targeting LGBTQ people ever since authorities closed down a gay community centre in the capital, Accra, in 2021.

“We are rolling ourselves back as a democracy in the name of tradition, in the name of religion,” said Mr Donkor. – 2024 Bloomberg LP