Anti-LGBTQI+ bill: Most concerns raised by AG already considered – Sam George

One of the proponents of the bill against Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgenders and Queer (LGBTQ+) groups, Sam Nartey George, has disclosed that about 80 percent of the issues raised by the Attorney General on the anti-gay bill have already been considered by the committee working on the bill.

In a memo, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Godfred Dame, described parts of the anti-LGBTQI+ bill as unconstitutional.

Mr Dame in the memo to the Chairman of the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs of Parliament, said the bill would face some challenges when implemented, adding that some provisions will violate some fundamental human rights and freedoms, particularly the right to privacy.

The anti-LGBTQI+ bill seeks to criminalise activities of persons who hold out as lesbian, gay, transgender, transsexual or queer, persons who hold divergent socio-cultural notions of sex, persons with a biological anomaly regarding their gender at birth, persons involved in the promotion of or advocacy and funding for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer related activities, as well as persons who conduct surgical procedures to reassign an individual’s gender except for medical purposes.

But in his opinion, the Attorney-General stated that “parts of the Bill in its present form violate some fundamental rights and freedoms enshrined in the Constitution, including the right to freedom of expression, thought and conscience and freedom from discrimination. Other provisions of the Bill, however, pass the test of constitutionality.”

Reacting to the views of the AG on Eyewitness News, on Thursday, Sam George welcomed the views of the Attorney General but added that the committee does not agree with all the issues raised by the Attorney General.

“I will say that about 80 percent of the issues raised by the AG in his memo has already been catered for by the committee and the sponsors [but] it is not every issue that he is raising that we agree with. There are some of the issues that as sponsors we think that the AG is wrong, and we are insisting to the committee that we will carry to the floor and have a debate on that.”

The Ningo-Prampram MP also downplayed the possibility of the bill being passed by Parliament before the end of the year.

“It is practically impossible to pass the bill this year. The budget is to be read Wednesday and so even if the committee were to meet on Monday, it will take the secretariat some days to put together its report and share that with the committee members for cross-checking and verification.”