BY KWAKU AMANKWA, FINANCIAL AND RISK MANAGEMENT ANALYST.
If you asked most Ghanaians what should happen to anyone practicing witchcraft, there is no doubt many will want them far away from their homes and families, and even society.
Undoubtedly, no reasonable person will advocate their imprisonment or stoning.
But such was the punishment meted out to anyone accused of witchcraft years ago around the world. Our society, whilst still rejecting such practices appreciates the situation better now and understands what witches cannot do. Also, many incidents previously blamed on witches have been found to be normal ailments and mishaps that happen to people all over the world.
Our society’s treatment of witches only encouraged vigilantes, who often took the law into their own hands, hunting down and assaulting suspected or alleged witches. Whilst many Western societies that previously had similar issues with witches moved on from maltreating suspected witches, most African societies continued to encourage the assault of so-called witches, who happen to be mostly the elderly and poor women in the Communities.
It is within this context, that we as a society need to tread cautiously on the ongoing debate and bill on LGBTQ+. It is true that most Ghanaians are not in favour of LGBTQ+ practices. But needless to say, that should not be the reason we enact a law that clearly seeks to imprison people who engage/indulge in LGBTQ+ and drive them underground. As this will expose them to dangers common to most vulnerable and under-represented groups, just like undocumented immigrants become prey to their greedy employers.
As a society, we have managed to use fear, mixed with selective references of religious positions to whip up such fervour that had a ‘Unanimous FC’ in parliament, where not 1 out of the 275 Members if Parliament could state a contrary position or stand alone against the current bill. The so-called fear that if LGBTQ+ is not eliminated soon, all in the country will become ‘gays’ and that reproduction will be affected, is as crude a logic, as suggesting, that our predominantly Christian and Muslim societies, who both abhor Voodoo should get rid of all who practice voodooism because they will convert them if their activities are not stopped.
In fact, tolerating LGBTQ+ in the US and UK has not transformed those societies into a ‘gay yard.’
A 2022 Gallup Poll estimates only 7.2 percent of the US adult population identifies as LGBTQ+. In the UK, only 5.8 percent identify as such, according to a Youguv poll. This is despite years of being tolerant to such practices. The big question we must all ask ourselves is, what problem are we seeking to cure or solve with this emotion-driven legislation on LGBTQ+. Is it the case that we want to wipe LGBTQ+ people from Ghana? Is that even possible? At best, we will only succeed in empowering vigilantes to hunt down a few known LGBTQ+ people living in our deprived Communities. No wealthy witch has ever been caught and attacked, but only poor LGBTQ+ folks will be caught by this law. If we are concerned about the future of our young one’s, as a society, then we should be strengthening the role of parents and families in the lives of our children.
The current almost wholesale of sending our children to boarding schools, where such practices are rife should be reconsidered by parents. Parents should also monitor their children’s exposure to vile materials online, including child pornography. That is a far better strategy to dealing with our fears about our children and this LGBTQ+ scare.
Enacting laws to deal with some OR certain societal issues have never been successful in any country. If we want to be a religious nation, then we should seek full application of all the inscriptural things that both the Bible and Quran warn against, like greed, selfishness, fornication and negative tendencies that destroy our societies and the nation. Let us not be part-time Christians, as one song suggests.
Let us not be selective, if we want to chart the path of a theocratic nation, where all sins against God become a crime against the nation as well. Let us thread cautiously, especially if we will return to our ‘gay loving’ Western benefactors for loans and financial support, lest we end up enacting a law that targets a few poor people, but also end up alienating our country from the International Community at a time when we need our international friends most.