Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, Ibrahim Murtala Muhammed
Drama unfolded on the floor of Parliament yesterday when the NDC Member of Parliament (MP) for Tamale Central, Ibrahim Murtala Muhammed, accused the Minister for Communications and Digitalisation, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, of being a promoter and practitioner of LGBTQ+.
This was after Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful, who is also the MP for Ablekuma West, called on women who are pressured by their spouses into engaging in oral and anal sex to report the instances to the police for support.
“You are a promoter of LGBTQ, you’re a promoter of LGBTQ,” Murtala was heard shouting across the aisle at the minister after she expressed worry that some women had faced divorce threats from their husbands for refusing to partake in such sexual acts.
The minister was contributing to the debate on the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill.
The Second Deputy Speaker, Andrew Asiamah Amoako, who overheard the taunting of Mr. Murtala, asked the NDC MP to withdraw his comment, but he would not budge.
“With all due respect, you cannot ask me to do something that I don’t remember. Several statements were made by myself and my colleagues, including Ursula Owusu-Ekuful.
“So which of the statements are you asking me to withdraw?” the Tamale Central MP asked rhetorically.
The Second Deputy Speaker retorted, “Are you asking me to repeat what you said? Hon Murtala, Member of Parliament of Tamale Central, just withdraw for me.”
“I am not going to rehearse what you said. You know what you said. Minority leadership, I instruct that you urge your member to withdraw that statement,” the Speaker insisted when the MP became incorrigible.
Afterwards, the NDC MP also accused Ursula of having made a gesture that he was ‘mad’, and demanded for her to be made to withdraw.
This degenerated into heated exchanges, with the minister recounting the accusation.
Meanwhile, the minister has stated, “For the avoidance of doubt and the information of all Ghanaians, oral sex, anal sex regardless of whether it is between woman and man, man and man or woman and woman is illegal under our law, and so if there is anybody who is practising oral sex or anal sex please note that what you are doing is against the existing law of this country.”
“And so I will urge any woman or young girl being subjected to any such practice under the guise of heterosexual sex to know that what they are being asked to do is against the law and must seek help from the police. Anal sex is unnatural carnal knowledge, use of sex toys is unnatural carnal knowledge,” she noted.
MPs Debate Bill
Meanwhile, Members of Parliament have declared unanimously that they intend to pass the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill, also known as the anti-LGBTQ bill, to provide reassurances about the country’s protection.
Commenting after the second reading of the bill, the lawmakers argued that it was their responsibility under the constitution to promote and craft laws to protect moral and traditional values recognised by Ghana.
First Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei-Owusu, said, “One thing is clear. Our family values, culture and tradition are opposed to all the things mentioned under LGBTQ. They cannot stand together.”
“Once we are promoting our cultural and family values, it cannot stand with the values advocated and propagated by the LGBTQ,” he added.
He noted, “Our constitutional responsibility naturally leads us to proscribing the activities of the LGBTQ. We must understand that each of us belongs to a particular clan or group, and if you go to your hometown, there are practices that everybody expects you to behave.”
Mr. Osei-Owusu, who is also the NPP MP for Bekwai, said the Ghanaian society has a way of dealing with deviant behaviours, arguing, “It is a pity though some people argue that this bill takes out the choice of some people.”
“Truly, if we are going to allow choice – every and any choice – there will be no society. There is no society which does have values and doesn’t promote and enforce its own values,” he intimated.
“For everyone advocating for choice, will they accept those who believe in violence as settling disputes in any society?” he quizzed, and added, “That is why we have made rules regulating civil relation, criminal relation; everything must be in accordance with societal values.”
NDC MP for Ningo-Prampram, Samuel Nartey George, who is one of the sponsors of the bill, expressed his excitement that all the 175 MPs had come to a point of convergence to the anti-LGBTQ bill.
According to him, the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights in Article 17 (2) and (3) advocates that “Every individual may freely take part in the cultural life of his community, and that the promotion and protection of moral and traditional values recognised by the community, shall be the duty of the state.”
“Our cultures have words for things that are natural to the people. Things that are alien, they don’t have words for them, but description for them,” he contended.
“Homosexuality is alien to our culture. The white’s culture seems to prohibit polygamy. It is not a culture thing for the west; it is a financial decision,” he asserted.
NPP MP for Asante Akim North, Andy Appiah-Kubi, said MPs had never seen any bill that has come to the House commanding “unanimous support like this one.”
“We are doing something to please the whole of Ghana. Some of the people who are alluding to human rights provisions have not mentioned to us one of the provisions that allows for this unnatural carnal knowledge,” he pointed out.
“They have not told us anything. People who are calling for rights, I am very sure in my mind that no right can be claimed out of criminality,” he contended.
The bill is to provide for proper human sexual rights and Ghanaian family values; proscribe LGBTQ and related activities; proscribe propaganda of, advocacy for or promotion of LGBTTQQIAAP+ and related activities; provide for the protection of and support for children, persons who are victims or accused of LGBTTQQIAAP+ and related activities.
Chairman of the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Kwame Anyimadu-Antwi, however, said some other institutions, groups and individuals, including Human Rights Coalition, Ghana AIDS, Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Key Watch Ghana/Intersex Ghana, among others, are opposed to the passage of the bill.
According to him, they contend that the passage of the bill into law will violate the provisions of Article 1, clauses 1 and 2 of the 1992 Constitution.
“The said Articles place an obligation on the Government to exercise its functions according to the dictates of the Constitution, and that any other law found to be inconsistent with any provision of the Constitution shall, to the extent of the inconsistency be void.
“They premised their position on the provisions in Articles 12(2), 17(1) and 21(a), (b) and (e), of the Constitution which guarantee equality before the law, prohibit all forms of discrimination and the freedom of expression, thought, conscience, belief, and association as well as media and academic freedom. According to the group, these are unfettered and inalienable rights,” he read the committee’s report.
He disclosed that the group further stressed that the Constitution prohibits dehumanising and injurious acts to the physical and mental well-being of all persons; guarantees the right of the people to assemble, including the right to take part in processions and demonstrations; and entitled all persons to enjoy, practice, profess, maintain and promote any culture, language, tradition or religion.
By Ernest Kofi Adu, Parliament House