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U.N. Human Rights Council Opposes Ghana’s Anti-Gay Bill

In Ghana, a highly religious country that claims to be exemplary in Africa in its respect for human rights, a handful of opposition MPs are putting the president in a difficult position by promoting a law restricting the rights of sexual minorities.

Same-sex relationships are banned in the West African nation, but no one has ever been prosecuted under this colonial-era law.

However, LGBT+ people are widely discriminated against in Ghana.

In early August, a bill was introduced in parliament to further restrict the rights of LGBT+ people.

It includes criminalizing the defense of LGBT+ rights, a duty to report “suspects”, the promotion of conversion therapy and the imposition of harsher prison sentences for homosexuality.

If the bill is passed by parliament, President Nana Akufo-Addo could either sign it into law or veto it.

The international community and rights activists have widely condemned the bill, which was submitted to parliament by seven opposition MPs and one member of the presidential party.

“Passing this law in its current or even partial form would violate a significant number of human rights, including the absolute prohibition of torture,” a UN panel of experts said in a statement.

“This will not only criminalize LGBTI (I for intersex) people but also all those who support or show sympathy for human rights,” they added.

But analysts and diplomats say it will be difficult for the president to oppose the bill, given its popularity in Ghana.

About 90 percent of Ghanaians say they support a law criminalizing same-sex relationships, according to a 2014 poll by research group Afrobarometer.

“The opposition party is using this proposed law as a political tactic to force the current government to take a stand,” the Human Rights Watch (HRW) researcher Wendy Isaack said.

President Akufo-Addo, who was re-elected for a second term in December, has said he would not legalize same-sex marriages.

But with this law, the former human rights lawyer, who studied in Britain, finds himself at odds.

“It’s obvious that the president is not thrilled with this reform, but it’s a delicate issue, because of the general opinion,” a western diplomat who wishes to remain anonymous told AFP.

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