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Cardinal Peter Turkson, a leading figure from Ghana, has advocated for the decriminalization of homosexuality and further understanding of the issues faced by LGBT people. His views conflict with those of other Ghanaian Catholic bishops, who have labeled homosexuality as “despicable.” The cardinal’s comments follow the recent discussion of a bill in parliament that would impose heavy penalties on those involved in LGBT activities.
In July, the Ghanaian Parliament approved a bill which, though not yet fully passed, would make identifying as LGBT punishable by three years in prison, and campaigning for LGBT rights with a possible 10-year sentence. In stark contrast to these harsh laws, in the same month Pope Francis expressed openness to the Catholic Church blessing same-sex couples, though still classing same-sex relationships as "objectively sinful" and not approving of same-sex marriage.
In August, the Ghanaian bishops released a statement, in tandem with other prominent Christian organizations, emphasizing that Western nations should quit trying to impose their values upon them. Cardinal Turkson later shared his views on the BBC’s HARDtalk program, declaring that LGBT persons “may not be criminalised because they've committed no crime”. In Ghana, such acts are illegal and punishable by up to three years of imprisonment. He suggested that more education is required in order to make a distinction between delinquency and non-offences.
In 2003, Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson became the first-ever Ghanaian cardinal appointed by then Pope John Paul II. As the current Chancellor of the Pontifical Academies of Sciences, Cardinal Turkson recently commented on the anti-gay laws recently proposed in Uganda. He mentioned an Akan expression which translates to “men who act like women and women who act like men”. He suggested that this is evidence that homosexuality is not something that was completely foreign to Ghanaian society. He further clarified that he believes foreign donations and grants often come alongside pressure from outside to adopt certain “freedoms” or “rights”.
In response, the World Bank suspended new loans to Uganda and President Joe Biden declared that the United States would be removing the country from a preferential trading agreement due to the country’s “gross violation of internationally recognised human rights”. This law which includes life imprisonment or even the death penalty for those convicted of homosexuality.
Emmanuel Amos Abanyie
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