The President of Ghana has come under fire from his supporters after his comments regarding the legalisation of homosexuality in his nation.
President Akufo-Addo, who when speaking in an interview with Al Jazeera, made the controversial statement, where he admitted that the legalisation of homosexuality was “bound to happen,” despite the nation having little social or political appetite to accept LGBT equality.
“At the moment, I don’t feel and I don’t see that in Ghana there is that strong current of opinion that is saying that this is something that we need even deal with. It is not so far a matter which is on the agenda,” Akufo-Addo said.
Akufo-Addo continued, “These social, cultural issues… I don’t believe that in Ghana so far, a sufficiently strong coalition has emerged to change public opinion, and have a new paradigm in Ghana. I think that it is something that is bound to happen.”
Elaborating further Akufo-Addo explained that over time social norms can change, as had happened in England, which still outlawed homosexuality when he studied there as a child.
“The activities of individuals, of groups, a certain awareness, a certain development grew and grew and grew stronger and it forced a change in the law. I believe those are the same processes that will bring about changes in our situation.”
Akufo-Addo’s comments have been widely criticised by the Ghanaian media as well as outraging religious organisations and other politicians.
The General Secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana, Dr Kwabena Opuni, has condemned any suggestion that homosexuality could become accepted in Ghana, insisting that it was a matter of “survival.”
“It threatens Africa’s social protection which is embedded in family and children,” he said.
“That is our cultural identity and uniqueness, and we want Akufo-Addo to state that he cannot and will not accept homosexuality no matter the pressure.”
In response to the outcry, Akufo-Addo and his government were forced to clarify that they have no intention of legalising homosexuality.
Information Minister, Mustapha Hamid, told Joy News that, “Since the law is premised on customs, what it means is that we cannot make it legal at this stage considering that the customs and traditions of the people abhor homosexuality.”
Currently in Ghana, consensual male homosexuality, is described as “unnatural carnal knowledge”, and is illegal, with penalties including three years’ imprisonment.