Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin has announced that Parliament will make public all the legislative processes involved in the passage of law when considering the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill.
The bill christened ‘Anti-Gay’ bill has generated heated debate and triggered conversation on various media platforms both local and international as it seeks to criminalise the activities of LGTBQ+ people in the country.
According to the Speaker, from the sitting of the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to the last stage of the passage process, which is the third reading of the bill, will be made public, including “the decision of this House.”
Addressing MPs at the opening of the third meeting of the House, the Speaker said what accounted for the move is that “the whole world is looking for the outcome of this bill.”
“We will make the process public and I support what the Majority Leader said. The sitting of the Committee will be public and the decision of this House will be public. We will want to know where each Member of Parliament stands,” he noted.
Mr. Bagbin indicated that the House would countenance delay of the legislative process, asserting, “I know Ghanaians are expectant and I know we have over 100 petitions before the committee of Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, but we will try not to allow any filibustering of this bill.”
He said the anti-LGBTQ+ bill had generated a national conversation, and “it continues to generate a lot of interest and has taken assumed different dimensions.”
“For me, this is healthy for a maturing democracy like Ghana. It is important we allow various shades of opinions to canvass their positions on the bill. As Ghanaians, I want to plead with us to accommodate the views of others, whatever perceptions they have.”
“Let’s maintain the peace and the coolest of mind and heart,” he entreated and continued, “The Parliament of Ghana is capable of handling the situation.”
The Speaker assured that the House would create the enabling environment for all to “put across their views,” adding that “at the end of the day, the processes of the House will determine the outcome and when that is done, I am very convinced that the law that will come out of all these, if any, will protect the culture and values of our people and the Ghanaian identity.”
“It is a law, I believe, that will also take into consideration the human rights and freedoms that have been guaranteed under our constitution, and it is a law that will take into consideration the richness of the common sense, human decency, morality, logic and at the end of the day, it is a law that will bring and transform this country into something else,” he stated.
He called on Ghanaians to allow everyone, including religious bodies, civil societies, and academia to participate in the deliberations of the House.
Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said Parliament would do what is appropriate with regard to the anti-LGBTQ+ bill, saying: “After all, we are representatives of the good people of this country.”
“The Bill is before the appropriate committee which has to digest and go through the plethora of documents and memoranda submitted and listen to the sponsors of the bill in order to prepare and submit a credible report to this House.”
“The Committee may decide to sit in public and I believe if the leadership of the Committee decides to sit in public the leadership of the House will facilitate their sitting in public. Just so that everybody will get to know their decision.
He said the major decision that is taken when a bill comes before the House is at the second reading where “the sponsors of the bill move the motion for the second reading and the committee that had considered that bill will come with their report.”
According to him, it is rather unfortunate that “it has been made to appear as if when bills come before this House there is a cabal that meets somewhere in-camera and decides on the fate of the bills.”
“That certainly is not anything that has ever happened in this House. Every bill is considered first at the committee level before it gets submitted to the plenary and it has never happened that at the consideration of any bill is done in-camera,” the Majority Leader stressed.
By Ernest Kofi Adu, Parliament House