Near Blows In Parliament Over Anti-Gay Bill
…After Secret Homosexual Advocates Go Silent
Tempers flared up on the floor of Parliament yesterday, when two hot-headed Members of Parliament (MPs) from the Tamale Central and Ablekuma West constituencies, went berserk over the controversial anti-gay bill.
The two clashed after the National Democratic Congress (NDC’s) Ibrahim Murtala Mohammed of Tamale Central in the Northern Region, allegedly remarked that his colleague and Minister for Communications and Digitalization, Ursula Gifty Owusu-Ekuful of Ablekuma West, in the Greater Accra Region, was a practitioner of the LGBTQ+ act.
The Tamale Central lawmaker was said to have made the remark off the microphone, but he was allegedly heard by a few of his colleagues, including the Second Deputy Speaker, Andrew Asiamah Amoako, who was sitting in for Speaker, Alban Bagbin.
The incident, which brought the debate of the bill to a brief halt, forced the sit-in Speaker to prevail on the former Deputy Trade and Industry Minister under former President John Mahama administration to withdraw his statement, even though, the latter insisted that what he was being accused of was not on record.
“Hon. Murtala, withdraw that statement you made, I heard you. Please just withdraw the statement,” he said.
The NDC MP initially refused, insisting he did not know what statement he was being asked to withdraw since he made a couple of statements and were off record.
He contended, “Mr. Speaker, if the Hansard comes and whatever you said I said is in it….Mr. Speaker, if you think I said something, the honourable minister also said something. What did she say? She said I am mad.”
But before the Tamale Central MP could withdraw, his counterpart minister and MP was heard already throwing some jabs from the other side of the House, amidst hurling some unsavory words.
Speaking later on Joy FM’s‘Top Story’ programme, monitored by The Anchor, the minority MP said he never used the word “practitioner of LGBT,” but remember saying that the Speaker allows each member of the House to debate the bill so that every Ghanaian gets to know where their MPs stand.
He insisted he did not use the words being attributed to him, but if his colleague believes he really said that, then it is a case of “who the cup fits.”
On the other hand, Mrs.Ekuful, who once upon a time admitted she practised the obnoxious act while in secondary school, questioned her colleague on the floor, saying that if she was a practitioner as he was claiming, then she did it with her colleague’s wife, daughter or mother.
But Murtala had countered that, Mrs.Ekuful, who will not let the incident pass unchecked, had described her colleague MPs, including him, tagging her as a practitioner of LGBT, as “mad.”
After brief moments of exchanges between the two MPs, the minority leader. Dr.Cassiel Ato Forson, intervened asking his colleague to apologize, even if he was not addressing the microphone directly.
When the Tamale MP took the floor again, he insisted that his colleague should also render an apology to him for her outburst.
On her part, the visibly angry communications minister said, she was apologizing because of the people she represented and anyone offended by her comments, but she will not do that without expressing her disgust.
“Mr. Speaker, I sat here and repeatedly heard Murtala refer to me as an LGBTQ+ practitioner, to the hearing of everyone in this House. I sat here and repeatedly heard him. When you haven’t seen me have sex with your wife, daughter or mother, you sit there and refer to me in those terms,” she said.
Earlier, there was deafening silence on the floor, when Speaker Alban Bagbin posed a question to all the 275 MPs if any of them had a contribution to make against the passage of the bill.
The controversial bill, also known as Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values (PPHSRGFV), put together in 2021 by some eight MPs, after months of setbacks, made its way to the floor of the House and read the second time for a debate.
Many had anticipated this day and so early morning by 10 o’clock interested groups, especially religious heads, including the clergy and representatives from the Muslim Community, led by the spokesperson of the national Chief Imam, had all pitched camp at the august House for the debate.
Speaker Bagbin, who has backed the bill since its inception, had asked the MPs, both from the Majority and the Minority sides, against the controversial bill, to rise up and make his or her position known.
The commencement of debate of the bill was being shown live on television and streamed on the internet.
To the shock of many, none of the MPs was able to muster courage to rise to state their position. This was despite earlier perception that some of the lawmakers were against the bill.
Approving the laying of the bill and the subsequent debate before the consideration stage, Speaker Alban Bagbin said it is clear that no legislator is against the passage of the anti-LGBTQ+ bill, 2022.
“With the submissions just made by the Honorable Andy Appiah Kubi that all the 275 are in support of the bill, anybody who disagrees be on your feet and I will recognize you.
“Honorable members, since all members are in support of the bill, I am definitely not going to gag the House. I will give you the opportunity to expand and improve further the submissions made so that at the consideration stage, it will be enriched by your contributions.
“But I just want us to be clear that none is against the bill,” he stressed.
Speaker Alban Bagbin added that “In view of the numbers, I am tempted to give some time limits for the debates so that we can give opportunity to everybody to make a contribution. At the end of the day, your report is already in the public domain.”
The absolute silence paved the way for all 276 members of the House to unanimously consent to the passage of the (LGBTQ+ bill).
This follows months of public debates and ratification of the 36-page document by the legislators and stakeholders, since its introduction in 2021.
Already, the controversial bill has been hit with a number of legal actions with the latest lawsuit announced only on Tuesday, July 4, 2023.
Meanwhile, the Constitutional and Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament has recommended that the House passes the controversial Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill, 2021.
According to the committee, the majority of Ghanaians are in favour of the legislation.
While admitting that the bill had “significant human rights concerns,” the committee informed the House that it petitioned the Attorney-General for its opinion.
The 18-page document, which was signed by the committee’s chairperson, Kwame Anyimadu-Antwi, had been subjected to the amendments proffered by the committee.
Mr.Anyimadu-Antwi indicated that the decision was reached after considering the advice of the Attorney General.