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Gay right debate: All positions are becoming irrational, untenable – Kofi Abotsi

Mr.Kofi Abosti

The Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA), Professor Kofi Abotsi has said the ongoing debate for gay rights or criminalization in Ghana is unwinnable.

According to him, both sides are digging in, and positions are becoming irrational and untenable.

“The debates for gay rights or criminalization is unwinnable! Both sides are digging in and positions are becoming irrational & untenable and this is crowding out good reasons and circumspection as lawmakers ponder the bill & it’s intents!” he said in a tweet on Thursday October 7.

The controversial anti-gay bill which is currently before parliament has already divided opinion in the Ghanaian public discourse.

While some, particularly the religious and traditional groupings, have supported the Bill and hopeful of its passing, others say it could incur the wrath of the international community against Ghana.

In relation to this matter, one of the sponsors of the bill, Ningo Prampram lawmaker, Sam George had earlier described Professor of Journalism and Mass Communication, Kwame Karikari as a hypocrite following his submission on the bill.

He said if he is asked to score Professor Karikari on his submission, he would give him an F.

Prof Karikari had said the bill which Sam George and some of his colleague legislators are promoting is dangerous because it seeks to promote hate for homosexuals in the country.

In the view of Prof Karikari, gays and lesbians are human beings and deserve to be respected and protected as any other person.

To that end, he said, any law that seeks to create problems for this group should be rejected.

He said this while speaking on the First Take with Dzifa Bampoh on 3FM on Monday October 4.

He said he and a few of his colleagues who are fighting for the rights of homosexuals to be respected in Ghana are going to hold a public forum to debate this subject.

“Hopefully, the media may also want to pick up the debate, debate them so that the public will instantly get to know the views that we hold and the views that the proponents of what we considered to be a dangerous bill also hold.

“We think we live in a democracy and we must be grateful to God that we live in a democracy so that whatever parliament, the executive or any branch of government does will be openly discussed and people can therefore take their decisions and then the lawmakers and the executives can also take some wisdom from the public debate.

“We know that most societies have prejudice against homosexuality, lesbianism and these other social practices. We are not at all surprised that the overwhelming majority have prejudiced or even hate these small minority of people in society. We have no problem with that. What we are saying is this.

“This law is setting up the minority up. Our constitution does not discriminate about humans beings unless the proponents of this bill, unless the 95 per cent who say they don’t like homosexuality, we want them to say that homosexuals, lesbians are not human beings. Are they human beings also are they not human beings?

“If they are human beings and they are human beings then we think that they are protected by the constitution so any law that is made to arouse, promote engineer and mobilize hate against that minority is against the rights of those minority people and should not be passed.”

Speaking on the same programme, Sam George said “He has made so many sweeping comments and I expected that he would have been held to strict proof. His argument is hollow and if I was marking this as a script he will score an F.

“This is someone who says the constitution protects people, you [Dzifa Bampoh] read to him a section of the bill which provides protection for persons who identify as LGBTQ from extra judicial treatment and he tells you it is a hoax.

“This is the same person asking us to provide proof of the health challenges, the public risk that the LGBTQ community proposes and he is telling you that our bill is a hoax without any proof.

“Today 4th October, the head of the Ghana AIDS Commission, speaking to another media house in Accra decried the increasing prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Ghana and the fact that HIV prevalence in Ghana is rising. In that interview, he was asked specifically which demographic is pushing this number up, he said men having sex with men. That is the empirical evidence. Now can you ask Prof Kwame Karikari and his cohorts what empirical evidence they have to say that say part of our bill is a hoax? Has he educated himself and has he read the bill or he is basically just running riot in town on the basis of their misconception?”

The Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill was laid in the House on Monday, August 2 and read for the first time.

Reading for the first time, a clerk in the legislative assembly stated that the Bill proscribes lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) and other related activities and propaganda or advocacy and promotion for same.

It also came to light that it supports protection for children and persons who are victims or accused of homosexuality.

Second Deputy Speaker Andrew Asiamah Amoako referred the Bill to the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Committee for consideration.

“For the first time, it is referred to the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for consideration and report,” Mr Asiamah Amoako, who is also the MP for Fomena, directed.

The Chairman of the Pentecost Church, Apostle Eric Nyamekye has asked President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to fight Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, Intersex (LGBTQI+) before he exits office.

He said although Mr Akufo-Addo has stated categorically that gayism and lesbianism will not be legalized under his watch, the President must begin to take measures to stop the gayism movement that has started in the country before he exits office.

The church of Pentecost is 10.38 per cent of the Ghanaian population and we are against this LGBTQI+.

 “Our concern is not about today, it is about the future. Today when we let in this LGBTI what is going to happen is that we are going to accept same sex marriage which the president says it is never going to happen at his watch.

 “But if he allows LGBTQI to start, it is true that it is never going to happen at his watch but, by the time it gets to same sex marriage the president will not be the president of the nation. I agree with him but he should stop this, he should close the doors at where it matters and we are saying that he should close it now.

“This movement is an insult to God the creature, you are just telling God that he didn’t think enough,” he told journalists on Wednesday October 6.

The Church of Pentecost on Wednesday presented a memo to parliament in support of the steps taken to pass the anti-gay bill which is currently before the legislature.

The memo was presented to the lawmakers on Wednesday October 6.

The clergy men were received by Sam George.

Source:3 News

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LGBTQI : I’ll defend the right of minorities everywhere – Gabby

Gabby Otchere-Darko has said he is against the anti-gay bill that is before Parliament at the moment.

In a tweet, the former Executive Director of the Danquah Institute said “I am against the anti-gay bill & not shy to say so. I am a proud Ghanaian who cherishes all that is good about our value systems, including tolerance.

“And, I will defend the right of minorities everywhere. I have the courage and a sense of justice to disagree with the majority.”

Parliament has started works to ensure the passage of the bill.

The Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs on Thursday November 11 started the public hearing on the memos submitted by the public on the bill.

During the sitting, a member of the committee, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful said the bill would go through changes before it is passed.

The Member of Parliament for Ablekuma West explained during the first public sitting of the committee to deliberate on the memos that have been presented on the bill that, just as with all other bills that eventually get passed by Parliament go through reviews, the anti-gay bill will also be subjected to the same treatment.

It is highly possible that the bill will not be the same after passage, she said.

She further asked the Pentecostal and Charismatic Council (PCC), to rephrase their memo that was presented to Parliament on the bill.

The Minister of Communications noted that the memo which was presented on behalf of the PCC by Apostle Ofori Kurago, called on parliamentarians to be mindful of the electorate when making contributions to the discussion

But in her view, this amounts to ‘veiled threat’ directed at the lawmakers.

 “You seem to issue a veil threat to the parliamentarians who have to be mindful if the electorate in the work that we are doing and in your assertion that this will be one of the most important pieces of legislation that this house will consider.

“But this process  would also result in  significant changes to the bill  and so the bill as  we have seen it now , as with all  processes of the passage of  legislation in this house , the bill that is introduced  is not the one that is eventually  passed into law . So if you are telling us that that you support his bill as it is, that we should do our work mindful of the people out there then you are hampering us the free expression in the performance of our duties as members of Parliament and so I will entreat you to rephrase that because it didn’t come across to is well. It is as if you are telling us to be mindful of what we are doing and that any changes might result in some attack or otherwise for us doing our works.”

The Committee commenced the public hearing on the memorandum received from the public on the anti-gay bill today Thursday November 11.

The Committee has stopped receiving additional memos on the bill.

The Ranking Member on the Committee, Bernard Ahiafor, told TV3’s Parliamentary correspondent Courage Komla Kluste in interview on Wednesday November 1o that “Those who submitted the memo would be invited to appear before the committee with their memo and justify the stand that they have taken. So, as usual, the LGBTQ bill which has been referred to the Constitution, Legal Committee of Parliament has generated a lot of interest  as a result of the memoranda received so far.

“It is ranging between 140 and 150 so the committee is scheduled to start the stakeholders’ engagement effective tomorrow.

“I believe strongly, when they advertised the bill welcoming memorandum the time frame was given, that time frame has since long elapsed.

“Having regard to the nature and quality of the bill we relaxed the rule and then we have received memos up to last week.

“So, I believe since the committee is going to start work on the  memo effective form  tomorrow, from tomorrow  I don’t think the clerk  of the committee will received any further  memo.”

It is recalled that Deputy Majority Leader in Parliament, Alexander Afenyo- Markin, projected that it would take the parliamentary committee 15 weeks, at least, to hear the 150 memoranda that have so far been presented as part of the move to pass the bill.

The Effutu lawmaker made this calculation having in mind the possibility of Parliament receiving more memoranda apart from the 150 already received.

He explained that each week, the committee has decided to consider 10 of the memoranda. That brings the calculation to fifteen weeks.

His comments come after his colleague Member of Parliament for Banda, Ahmed Ibrahim, had called on the House to carry along the nation as efforts are being made to pass the bill.

Speaking on the floor of the House Friday November 5, he said “On the issue of this LGBTQ , the committee has received about 150 memoranda I am well informed of steps they have taken so far They have met and programmed to hear them weekly and from next week they are starting.

“So if honourable Ibrahim Ahmed wants us to carry the nation along then per my calculation, if they are doing weekly we don’t know whether any more memoranda will come.

 “Then it means that we are looking at fifteen weeks. Every week they are doing ten, 150 and they want to do ten a week. So it is important all those who have brought memoranda are heard. It is after that that they will now prepare their report and then come and we make progress.”

The Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill was laid in the House on Monday, August 2 and read for the first time.

Reading for the first time, a clerk in the legislative assembly stated that the Bill proscribes lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) and other related activities and propaganda or advocacy and promotion for same.

It also came to light that it supports protection for children and persons who are victims or accused of homosexuality.

Second Deputy Speaker Andrew Asiamah Amoako referred the Bill to the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Committee for consideration.

“For the first time, it is referred to the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for consideration and report,” Mr Asiamah Amoako, who is also the MP for Fomena, directed.

Source:3 News

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70% of Ghana’s problems are from Parliament – Muntaka

Member of Parliament for Asawase, Mubarak Muntaka has noted that Ghana’s Parliament is weak.

He explained that lawmakers from the government side are unable to make their dissenting views on policies and initiatives that are introduced by the government known to the public even when they feel strongly to do so.

This, he said, is a as a result of fear of being victimized by the governing party and the government itself.

The Deputy Minority Chief Whip indicated that this has contributed to the weakening of Ghana’s Parliament.

He told TV3 in an interview that “People on the government side don’t want to be seen to be opposing things that are coming from  the government even when they now, deep down their heart  that their conscience and principles don’t support it.

“Sometimes what they try to do, those who  have a little conviction, is to stay  away. But to openly  speak against it is difficult.

 This is what is contributing to the weakening of parliament and we need to be able to overcome it.

 “I have said that that the challenges of this country,  70 per cent of them in my view is coming from a weak parliament.  You see the Congress of America, you see the Parliament in UK, something happens  and the next day  the committee is holding public hearing, they don’t even give the technocrats time, under the heat and before the public they are questioning you.

“So, when people are going to act they are careful  because they don’t want to appear before the Congress,  they don’t want to appear before a parliamentary committee.

“Do we do that here? Most of our chairpersons are from  the majority, even to call the meeting is a problem. The person doesn’t want to be seen to be  acting because this agency head is a party person.”

Source:3 News

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Navrongo Health Research Centre ready to go into vaccine development – Dr Nana Ansah

StarHealer: Project Navrongo | Global Network for Anti-Microbial Resistance  and Infection Prevention | University of Southampton

Management of the Navrongo Health Research Centre (NHRC), an agency under the Ghana Health Service (GHS) in the Upper East Region, say the centre was in a position to lead Ghana’s agenda of developing her own vaccines locally, if given the needed resources and support.

The centre since its establishment in 1988 has taken part in many major vaccine trials in the country, and has also trained several clinical trialists and researchers for other health research centres and health training institutions in the country.

Media tour

Conducting a team of health journalists from the African Media and Malaria Research Network (AMMREN) on a tour to the various laboratories at the centre, including the Biomedical Science laboratory, the Clinical Trials Centre, and the Molecular Biology room, the Head of Clinical Science Department of the centre, Dr Nana Akosua Ansah, said the centre only needed more support and commitment from the government to position itself to evaluate vaccines which will be produced in the country through the presidents initiative of manufacturing vaccines in Ghana.

She also added that there was the need to put in more efforts to build human capacity in the areas of clinical research.

For her, the centre had conducted many trials and had gathered enough experience and competencies to go into all phases of vaccines trials if given the needed supports.

“We have developed expertise and competence to run vaccine trials from Phase One—first in-human trials to Phase Four, the post market surveillance,” Dr Nana Ansah explained.

She said the Navrongo Health Research Centre had also built confidence in its catchment areas concerning vaccines trials, hence it would not be difficult getting people to participate in its trial exercises.

She said although the centre did not developed vaccines itself, it had trained and built capacity to understand the science behind vaccines development and hence its assessments.

NHRC

For more than two decades, the Navrongo Health Research Centre (NHRC) has been a leading institution conducting groundbreaking health research which has had a major influence on public health system in Ghana and internationally.

The NHRC started as a Field Station in 1988 and subsequently became a Research Centre in 1992, with an aim to be a national and international research centre of excellence that systematically conducts high quality demographic and health research to inform policy.

The centre, among others goals, was set up to enhance the development of evidence-based policies by generating relevant and empirical knowledge and information on priority health areas, as well as to facilitate the process of translating research findings into policy through dissemination and publication in peer-reviewed journals.

The center’s activities covered all the five regions of northern Ghana—Upper East, Upper West, Savannah, Northern, and North East.

Building capacity / vaccines

Dr Nana Akosua Ansah stressed the need for the country to pay more attention to building capacity of scientists and researchers, particularly in clinical research.

“From our experience from COVID-19, we can see that it is important to build our capacity as a country to conduct clinical trials. It would benefit not only the general population, but the growth of scientific research in the country.”

“We’ve had quite a number of vaccine trials. In fact, almost every vaccine that has been tried in Ghana before being introduced has had a certain phase done in Navrongo,” Dr Nana Ansah noted.

She observed that infectious diseases continue to emerge, and that the best way to fight such diseases was to invest in vaccines.

“As for vaccines, we would always have them because for viruses, it is difficult to get drugs to fight against viruses,” she pointed out, explaining that when fighting viruses, it is only the body’s immune system that can be primed to fight against viral diseases.”

Dr Nana Ansah noted that as many infectious diseases continue to emerge, it was obvious that vaccines would become more important in all healthcare systems.

Childhood vaccines

The NHRC’s Head of Clinical Science Department said the Centre has over the years concentrated more on childhood vaccines such as rotavirus in diarrhoea, meningococcal A vaccine in meningitis and now malaria vaccine..

“Adults have asked us why we are neglecting them and focusing on the children, so when there was an opportunity to take part in adult vaccine trial, the numbers have been quite overwhelming, and the enthusiasm is high,” she indicated.

For Dr Nana Ansah, people did not walk in to the centre to take part in vaccines trials due to the monetary compensation (transportation fares), but due to their understanding of vaccine trials as well as the trust and confidence they have in the centre.

Commitment

The Acting Director of the centre, Dr Patrick Odum Ansah, said the centre since its establishment had helped to promote the health of deprived communities through research and education, adding that the centre helps to identify and develop appropriate research tools that can adapt to changing research needs and priorities.

Writer’s email: zadokgyesi@gmail.com

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