Pentecostal and Charismatic Council backs anti-LGBTQI+ Bill

The Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council (GPCC) has thrown its weight behind the Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill, 2021 that is currently at the consideration stage in Parliament.

The Council, therefore, called on all parliamentarians to work through consensus to ensure that the bill was unanimously passed into law without any further delays.

“The GPCC wishes to state in no uncertain terms its full support for the ‘Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill 2021’.

As a Council, we stand with the entire membership of the Coalition for the Promotion of ‘Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values’, the private sponsors/promoters of the bill in Parliament and all others who in diverse ways are lending their support to the passage of this all-important bill,” the largest ecumenical group said.

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The GPCC has over 260 registered and active Pentecostal and Charismatic churches and para-church organisations across the country.

Conservative estimates put the congregational members of the member churches in the region of eight to 10 million.

The GPCC as an ecumenical council, therefore, represents a sizeable constituent of the Ghanaian population and electorate.

The President of the GPCC, Apostle Eric Nyamekye, said the Council had observed with keen interest recent happenings and deliberations in Parliament towards the passage of the bill.

In August 2021, the bill, which seeks to criminalise the activities of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI), as well as individuals and organisations that advocate or promote the act in the country, was laid in Parliament.

Known as the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill, 2021, it was read for the first time and the Second Deputy Speaker, Andrew Asiamah Amoako, referred it to the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for consideration and report.

The 36-page Private Member’s Bill is to provide for proper human sexual rights and Ghanaian family values, proscribe LGBTQ+ and related activities, propaganda of, advocacy for or promotion of all forms of same sex interactions, among others (LGBTQ+) and related activities.

For instance, it seeks to prohibit a person from providing or participating in any form of surgical services to enable gender reassignment or create a sexual category other than the category of a person assigned at birth, except where the surgical procedure is to correct a biological anomaly, including intersex.

It prescribes punishment for those who contravene or undermine the provision on summary conviction, to a term of imprisonment of not less than three years and not more than five years or both.

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GPCC’s role
Having earlier in 2021 played key roles as a member of the Coalition for the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values to support promoters of the bill and subsequent to its submission of memoranda in support of the bill, Apostle Nyamekye said the council found it important to add its voice to proponents of the bill by reiterating its earlier position to that effect.

The council said to the best of its knowledge and understanding, “the Bill articulates and reflects the sexual and family values of the entirety of the Ghanaian society”.

The Council indicated that its support for the bill was also because of its rationale to uphold “our collective sexual and family values system and to protect our communities and population from being pillaged by unacceptable influences from a small section of people which will disrupt our time-proven family and social system”.

Apostle Nyamekye reiterated the position of Member of Parliament (MP) for Ningo-Prampram, Sam Nartey George, and his other colleagues on both sides of the House, that the bill was not seeking to discriminate, harm and/or create hatred for any individual or group of people.

“The Bill seeks to protect our time-tested family and social sexual value system by proscribing any act or intentions aimed at advocating, promoting, soliciting and/or advertising LGBTQIA+ values and practices,” the President of the GPCC said.

Again, Apostle Nyamekye, who is also the Chairman of The Church of Pentecost (COP), said while the country’s laws in the narrower sense (particularly, The Criminal Offences Act 1960, (Act 29) under section 104) criminalised some aspects of the LGBTQIA+ activities, the bill under consideration sought to address holistically all identified grey areas and ambiguities in that area.

He stated that “the country’s collective traditional cultural values, as well as its various religious faiths (Christian, Islamic, Traditional Religion) and for that matter its revered religious books considered those acts as abominable and must not be given any new names of legitimacy”.

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“The GPCC, together with our sister ecumenical councils and religious bodies that constitute the Coalition, will continue to advocate for and show love, compassion and fellow feeling towards LGBTQIA+ persons, but will not condone these unacceptable acts.

The ecumenical councils and the coalition approach this process with the aim of providing support for those willing to come out of these deviant social disorders,” he emphasised.

The GPCC said it was committed to the protection of the rights of every Ghanaian, including people associated with the LGBTQIA+ and would ensure that they were protected from intimidation, discrimination and violence.

As already provided for in the bill, Apostle Nyamekye said, once it was passed into law, the council, working through the Church and other sister ecumenical bodies, would support every effort that aimed at providing treatment, counselling, psycho-social and spiritual support to help those willing to come out of those acts.

The president said the council was aware of the economic and financial threats being used to intimidate the Ghanaian society and particularly some parliamentarians to prevent the passage of the bill, an approach it described as unacceptable and shameful.

All Ghanaians must stand firm for the collective traditional and religious values and not to yield to “selling our birthright, Apostle Nyamekye said, citing the biblical Jacob and Esau story.

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He congratulated the MPs on promoting the bill, and for their resilience and courage in the face of intimidation and acts of harassment from some foreign and local entities.

“The GPCC is willing to have audience with any interested party, individual and/or group of Parliamentarians to deliberate further to explain our position and also hear their concerns with the view of promoting understanding”.

The Pentecostal and charismatic council reminded parliamentarians that they did not represent themselves but the people, hence their choices and decisions must reflect the preferences of their constituents and not the wishes and desires of themselves or other foreign entities.

The GPCC also commended the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, for his resolute stance and called on all to openly and expressly lend their support to the process.

“We kindly implore Parliament to work together in the interest of the sovereign will of the people of Ghana and endeavour to pass the Bill before it rises on December 22, 2023,” the council urged.

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