British Prime Minister Theresa May has said she deeply regrets the UK’s role in criminalising same-sex relations in its former colonies.

The laws were passed under British rule and are still used in 37 of the Commonwealth’s 53 member nations.

There is a global trend towards decriminalising homosexual acts, but some countries, like Nigeria and Uganda, have imposed stricter laws.

At a Commonwealth meeting, Mrs May said laws were “wrong then and wrong now”.

“Nobody should face discrimination and persecution because of who they are or who they love,” Mrs May said in London as Commonwealth leaders gather for their summit, which is held every two years.

“The UK stands ready to support any Commonwealth nation wanting to reform outdated legislation that makes such discrimination possible.

“Across the world discriminatory laws made many years ago continue to affect the lives of many people, criminalising same-sex relations and failing to protect women and girls.”

The number of states that criminalise same-sex relations is decreasing annually, with Belize and the Seychelles repealing such laws in 2016.

But in many socially conservative and religious countries in Africa, where homosexuality is a taboo, there has been resistance to calls to decriminalise same-sex relationships.

South Africa, which rejoined the Commonwealth after the end of white-minority rule in 1994, is one of the exceptions.

It has one of the most liberal constitutions in the world, which protects gay rights, and was the first African country to legalise same-sex marriage in 2006.

President Akufo-Addo in a recent interview with Aljazeera said Ghana was not keen on legalizing homosexuality but said his government might reconsider its position if there is general pressure and demand for it by the populace.

“This is a social, cultural issue, I don’t believe that in Ghana so far, a sufficiently strong coalition has emerged which is having that impact on public opinion that will say ‘change it, let’s now have a new paradigm in Ghana,” Akufo-Addo said.

At the moment, I don’t feel; I don’t see that in Ghana there is that strong current of opinion that is saying this is something we need to deal with. It is not so far a matter that is on the agenda,” he added.

While citing the UK as an example, Akufo-Addo said, “I grew up in England at the time that homosexuality was banned there. It was illegal, and I lived a period where British politicians thought it was an item not to even think about. But suddenly the activities of individuals and groups, a certain awareness, a certain development grew and grew stronger, and it forced a change in the law. I believe that those are the same processes that will bring about changes in our situation,” he added.

Anti-homosexuality laws in Ghana

Although there are no specific laws against homosexuality in Ghana, the country frowns on all sexual acts it deems ‘unnatural’.

Chapter 6 of the Criminal Code, 1960, as amended by the Criminal Code Act, 2003, cautions against unnatural carnal knowledge.

Section 104 states “whoever has unnatural carnal knowledge of (a) any person of the age of sixteen years or over without his consent shall be guilty of a first-degree felony and shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of not less than five years and not more than twenty-five years; or

(b) of any person of sixteen years or over with his consent is guilty of a misdemeanour, or (c) of any animal is guilty of a misdemeanor

Homosexuals in Ghana are therefore unable to express their sexuality in public, and their calls to lawmakers to amend the law to make provision for them have been ignored.

However, Law lecturer, Moses Foh-Amoaning has dared Human Rights Watch and others, who pride themselves as human rights activists, to champion the cause of polygamists in European countries.

Incensed by intense pressure by human rights activists and Western countries to get Ghana’s law amended to accommodate homosexuals, the lawyer on TV3’s News 360 in January this year accused human rights organizations of being used by gay activists to push their agenda for same sex marriage among other activities.

“You are just an instrument for pushing LGBT propaganda. Can you also go to South Africa, the UK or America and also do a research on polygamy and how people who want to marry more than one person are being discriminated against?,” he questioned.

He accused the Human Rights Watch of being an organization working under the pretense of human rights activism to promote activities of gay rights activists.

“It is the LGBT activists who asked you to conduct a research. You are just a conduit for LGBT right activism and propaganda to legalise homosexuality in Ghana where we say it is against our culture, religion and constitution,” Moses Foh-Amoaning fired the group.

His comments come on the back of a report by the Human Rights Watch which is calling for a repeal of the law against unnatural carnal knowledge.

The 72-page report, titled “’No Choice but to Deny Who I Am’: Violence and Discrimination against LGBT People in Ghana,” shows how retention of section 104(1)(b) of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 prohibiting and punishing “unnatural carnal knowledge,” and failure to actively address violence and discrimination, relegate LGBT Ghanaians to effective second-class citizenship.

But Moses Foh-Amoaning disagreed with this assertion, saying the issue of homosexuality is not a human right issue, neither is the Ghanaian constitution clear on the issue.

“Homosexuality is not a human right issue, and the Ghanaian constitution doesn’t talk about sexual orientation.”

He added, the European Union Human Rights Court has been clear on the matter and gives countries the freedom to make a decision regarding the issue of homosexuality.

“Last year the European Union Human Rights Court concluded that same sex marriages is not a human right issue. 47 judges came to the conclusion that it is also not a discriminatory matter, and that state parties have the right to decide whether or not they will allow same sex marriage or homosexuality or not.”

Homosexuality is “inherently disorderly”, he added, and could give room for other disorderly activities if accepted in the country.

He however condemned the alleged brutalities against gays in Ghana.

Source-BBC with additional files from Citifmonline.com and Newsghana.com.gh

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