LGBTQ+ debate: Don’t be swayed by tyranny of the masses – H. Kwasi Prempeh cautions government

February 27, 2021
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The Executive Director of the Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), has cautioned government to not be swayed by what he described as the tyranny of the masses in relation to the protection of minority groups in the country.

Professor Henry Kwasi Prempeh said should government allow itself and its power to be deployed by the majority against minority groups, it further marginalises and victimises these minority groups in the country.

He was speaking concerning the forceful shutdown of the LGBTQ+ Rights office in Accra by the police.

The police on Wednesday morning locked down the recently opened office of the group at Ashongman in Accra in the wake of public backlash over their operations.

Speaking on JoyNews’ Newsfile, Saturday, Prof. H.K. Prempeh stated that should the state continue to allow itself be used in such a manner, it would worsen the already desperate and dire situation of the group in the country.

He said, “We should be very careful walking down a path where we’ll single out a particular group and say you don’t belong, you’re not like us in every respect and, therefore, we will target you for particular disabilities, for particular mistreatments, for particular deprivation and the like. That is one of the things that we should make very clear here.

“The state normally is where the minority will go for protection in circumstances where they are at risk, they’d normally appeal to the state for protection.

“But when that state rather than protects the minorities, allows itself and its power to be deployed and co-opted by that same majority, to further marginalize and victimise the minority, then it becomes even more dangerous. Then their situation becomes even more desperate, even direr.”

He also cautioned that the discussion surrounding LGBTQ+ Rights in Ghana in recent times shouldn’t be taken out of context.

According to him, the issue at hand concerns the group’s right to association and advocacy and not for the legalisation of gay marriages as is being peddled by some commentators.

“The issue on the table, what we are faced with now, what has brought this debate about, is a simple matter of freedom of association. Is it permissible for certain persons to associate with each other and as an association have a meeting place called an LGBT office?

“When Egyapa Mercer was speaking, he made an interesting point. What he said he was doing, was essentially advocacy for law reform. He was advocating a change in our criminal laws to reach certain behaviours; that is entirely his right.

“Is Egyapa then saying that if you have another group of persons who think that those criminal laws target them unfairly or are extremely punitive, they may not – like he has done- come together form whatever NGO and advocate better legal treatment?” he said.

He further added that Ghana’s laws only criminalise unnatural carnal knowledge which he described as being gender neutral and or sexual orientation neutral, thus could affect both homosexuals and heterosexuals as well.

Hence targeting a particular group with that set of laws to criminalise their very existence is rather inhumane.

“It’s almost like you have now criminalised the person – you may not associate. You may not associate even to advocate for a change in the law to make your condition more humane. So that is the point of departure here,” he said.

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