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Ghana's parliament passes anti-LGBTQ+ bill that could imprison people for years

Speaker of Ghana Parliament Alban Sumana Bagbin speaks at the Parliament House in Accra, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024. Ghana's parliament passed a highly controversial anti-LGBTQ+ bill on Wednesday that could send some people to prison for more than a decade.
Misper Apawu
/
AP
Speaker of Ghana Parliament Alban Sumana Bagbin speaks at the Parliament House in Accra, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024. Ghana's parliament passed a highly controversial anti-LGBTQ+ bill on Wednesday that could send some people to prison for more than a decade.

ACCRA, Ghana — Ghana 's parliament passed a highly controversial anti-LGBTQ+ bill on Wednesday that could send some people to prison for more than a decade.

The bill was introduced to parliament three years ago and criminalizes members of the LGBTQ+ community as well as its supporters, including promotion and funding of related activities and public displays of affection.

Speaking to reporters after the bill was passed Wednesday one of its sponsors, lawmaker Sam George, said he felt relieved. "(I) feel like a burden has been taken from me," he said.

The bill has been sent to the president's desk to be signed into law.

The West African nation has generally been considered more respectful of human rights than most African countries and the bill has sparked condemnation among the international community and rights groups.

A coalition of human rights activists said the bill violated fundamental human rights.

"This bill seeks to infringe on, among others, the rights to dignity, freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom to partake in processions, academic freedom, equality and non-discrimination," said the group in a statement.

Sponsors of the bill defended it saying it seeks to provide protection for children and people who are victims of abuse.

Lawmakers proposing the bill said they consulted influential religious leaders while drafting it. Among those endorsing it are the Christian Council of Ghana, the Ghana Catholic Bishops' Conference and the country's chief imam.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

The Associated Press