Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury and leader of the global Anglican church says he will be speaking with the Archbishop of Ghana, Most Reverend Dr Cyril Kobina Ben-Smith in the coming days to discuss the Anglican Church of Ghana’s response to a draft anti-LGBTQ+ Bill due to be debated by the Ghanaian parliament.
Archbishop Welby in a statement weeks after the Anglican Church of Ghana (Internal Province of Ghana) declared its support for the ‘anti-LGBT bill’ said: “The majority of Anglicans within the global Anglican Communion are committed to upholding both the traditional teaching on marriage as laid out in the 1998 Lambeth Conference Resolution I:10 and the rights of every person, regardless of sexual orientation, before the law”.
Reminding the Anglican Church of Ghana of these commitments, he continued: “In Resolution I:10, the Anglican Communion also made a commitment “to assure [LGBTQ+ people] that they are loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ.” Meanwhile, on numerous occasions, the Primates of the Anglican Communion have stated their opposition to the criminalisation of same-sex attracted people: most recently, and unanimously, in the communiqué of the 2016 Primates’ Meeting. “We are a global family of churches, but the mission of the church is the same in every culture and country: to demonstrate, through its actions and words, God’s offer of unconditional love to every human being through Jesus Christ.”
In a statement backing the bill, the Archbishop of Ghana, Most Reverend Dr Cyril Kobina Ben-Smith said the Church’s support was borne out of the belief that LGBTQI+ is unbiblical and ungodly. “We see LGBTQI+ as unrighteousness in the sight of God and will therefore do anything within our powers and mandate to ensure that the bill comes into fruition,” the statement said. He further stated that, aside from Christianity, Ghanaian tradition and culture do not permit such acts. “This is about morality today and that of the future generation yet unborn. We as leaders must leave a legacy everyone will be proud of. Christ-like legacy of hope”.
“It will be recalled that earlier on in the year, February 28, 2021, during the enthronement of His Grace, the Most Reverend Dr Cyril Kobina Ben-Smith as Archbishop of the Internal Province of Ghana, at the Cathedral Church of St. Michael and all Angels, Asante Mampong, the President in no uncertain terms, condemned this unholy act. “The Anglican Church, Ghana, sees this homosexual practice as an act condemned by scriptures both in the Old and New Testaments. For example, Leviticus 20:13 clearly declares that a male lying with a fellow male is an abomination and punishable by death.
“Similarly, in the New Testament, Paul speaks of homosexuality as “contrary to sound doctrine” as recorded in 1 Timothy 1:10 “for the sexually immoral, for those practising homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine” It must be noted in our earlier declaration that, the church does not condemn persons of homosexuality tendencies but absolutely condemn the sinful acts and activities that they perform”. He also appealed to members of the Church and the public not to embark on any form of harassment and intimidation on individuals or groups associated with LGBTQI+ but rather, see them as potential souls to be won for Christ.
“We as a church assures that we will gladly open our counselling and support centres for the needed transformation services required by these persons or groups. We further advocate for intense education on the Human Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill 2021 to avoid acts of emotionalism and sentimentality by our members and the general public,” the statement added. “We will consistently urge our members and the general public to join the church as it prays towards eliminating any impediments towards the realization of the bill. We are hopeful that the House of Parliament will listen to the cry of many Ghanaians who are anxious to see the bill passed”.
The bill, titled, “The Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill 2021”, was submitted to Parliament in June, this year. The bill, among others, seeks to make it a crime to be LGBTQ+ or to advocate LGBTQ+ rights. Offenders could face jail terms. However, the submission of the bill to Parliament had elicited a major public debate over its appropriateness.
Many religious organisations and like-minded institutions and individuals have expressed their full support for the bill to be passed into law while some civil society organisations (CSOs) and other campaigners had opposed it with the explanation that it would infringe on the human rights of LGBTQ+ people in the country, and subject them to persecution and violence.