President of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Most Rev. Matthew Gyamfi has backed comments by Ghana’s Cardinal Peter Appiah Turkson on criminalising homosexuality.
The Cardinal told the BBC that homosexuality should not be a criminal offence and people should be helped to understand the issue better.
Cardinal Turkson argued that “LGBT people may not be criminalised because they’ve committed no crime”. Insisting “It’s time to begin education, to help people understand what this reality, this phenomenon is. We need a lot of education to get people to… make a distinction between what is crime and what is not crime.”
Reacting to the issue which has since generated controversial and divergent views among the Ghanaian populace, including the Catholic population, Most Rev, Matthew Gyamfi told TV3’s Portia Gabor that the Cardinal’s position “has always been the stand of the Catholic church.”
According to the Ghanaian Bishop, homosexuality may best be an issue of morality and not a crime.
“It may be a moral issue but does not rise to the level were homosexuals, lesbians and gays are considered criminals. That is the position of the Catholic Church. That has been the position of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference. So he is not stating something new,” Bishop Gyamfi said.
Refuting claims that the Bishops’ Conference had earlier backed the criminalisation of the act, the Bishop argued that asking that the act should not be legalised and made part of Ghanaian culture is not same as saying it is a crime.
“To be a crime means it is punishable. Like someone committing murder. It will be included in the list of crimes in Ghana. That is not what we are saying. We are saying it should not be permitted,” Bishop Gyamfi said.
Responding to reports purporting that Pope Francis has suggested he would be open to having the Catholic Church bless same-sex couples, Bishop Gyamfi clarified that “The Pope has not said that. That is what people are saying in respect to statements he might have made that we should be kind towards homosexuals. We should not treat them as if they are some strange beings. We should not say that they should be excluded in society etc. But to say that we are going ahead to bless homosexuals marriages, I don’t think the holy Father has said that.”
Be that as it may, the Bishops at their most recent Plenary Assembly in Sunyani called for an expedited action for the passage of the Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill of 2021. The Bill would make persons identifying as LGBT punishable with a three-year prison sentence with people who campaign for LGBT rights possibly facing up to 10 years imprisonment.
“We wish to thank Parliament for the work done so far on the bill, particularly the commitment of the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Alban S.K. Bagbin to ensure the successful passing of the bill. We urge that they expedite action on the passage, and we call on the President to assent to the Bill as soon as it is passed by Parliament,” the Bishops said in their November 2023 communique.
Watch interview below