Chairman of the Constitutional, Legal, and Parliamentary Affairs Committee in Parliament, Kwame Anyimadu-Antwi, has warned that the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill, popularly known as the anti-gay bill will not be passed if it is clothed with political colours.
He said the committee’s work on the bill has not been one-sided, therefore no attempt should be made to shroud the bill in politics.
Addressing the press in Parliament on Thursday, December 7, he said “I must warn that any attempt that anybody would want to clothe this bill with political colours will suffer non-passage of the bill. When we met as a committee it was not a one-sided thing, we spent some time on this until we presented our report.
“Some members of the public, even some reverend members are saying that this bill is a bad bill and we must not pass it. Most reverend ministers are saying it is a good bill we must pass it. We must pass a bill that will become an Act that would stand the test of time.”
He had earlier denied claims by Ningo-Prampram Member of Parliament, Samuel Nartey George, that the Majority in Parliament was fighting the bill.
He said leadership of Parliament has not drawn his attention that the committee should go ahead and submit it for consideration.
“The bill has been here, and we have not prosecuted it because, the religious bodies came to the Speaker. It got to a point that we were looking at the rehabilitation of people that will fall as victims of the LGBTQ+ and the Speaker suggested that we meet with the religious bodies to see how best we can incorporate that into the bill and our initial response was that it may not be sustainable. But I discussed it with the Ranking Member, who said that we have to do one workshop and iron out quizzes. And last week, I went to the Speaker’s office, and he asked me about this bill and I told him that we need to do something on this bill before we can go ahead and do it or prosecute it.
“Leadership has not drawn my attention that we should go ahead and do consideration on this bill and at any rate, this is not the only bill at the consideration stage. The Intestate Succession Bill has also been there and nobody thinks of prosecuting it, and then we have the Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill on page 24. If we start today, there is no way we can finish these amendments before this meeting ends. So why should I start it?” He told journalists while responding to Sam George who is one of the sponsors of the Anti-Gay bill who had indicated that the leadership of the Majority in Parliament reached out to sponsors of the bill to step it down.
The opposition lawmaker was livid over the inability of Parliament to consider the bill on Wednesday, December 6 as scheduled.
He accused Mr Anyimadu-Antwi of refusing to show up in Parliament to allow for the process to be moved to take the bill.
Speaking to journalists in Parliament, the Ningo Prampram lawmaker said “As sponsors of the bill, we are livid and angry at the conduct in the chamber today. This morning Speaker Alban Bagbin called and said to all of us as sponsors that the consideration of the amendment was going to be taken today. When we got to Parliament he said again to indicate that he wanted for all of us to be present.
“Since 8 AM this morning, we have been calling the chairman of the committee but he refuses to pick up the call, he is not returning the call. The ranking member of the committee Bernard Ahiafor has been present in Parliament since 10 AM and was in the chamber when the mace came in with the speaker ready for us to handle this. The speaker came in earlier this morning and indicated that he was going to take only one urgent question and then take the laying of papers and that it was a very important bill that had to be dealt with.
“The Speaker indicated that he also had a meeting he had to attend. When the speaker called the first Deputy Speaker Joseph Osei Owusu to take the chair he indicated to him to finish with questioning and proceed to take our bill, the anti –LGBTQI bill. In fact, when Mr Speaker went into his lobby, Honorable Helen Ntorso and Hon Dela Sowah followed up with the speaker to find out from him if the bill would still be taken, the speaker Rt. Honorable Alban Bagbin indicated that he had instructed the First Deputy Speaker to start the consideration and that when he finishes with his meeting he was going to come back to complete the consideration stage. Our frustration is that this is not the first time this is happening, this is not the second, this is the third time the speaker has given such an instruction and it has been disregarded in his absence.”
He added “We need to understand from the Majority side, what their issues with the bill are. We need to understand those who take the chair when the speaker gives the instructions what their opposition to the bill is. We are very well aware of people in leadership on the Majority side who are reaching out to the sponsors of the bill asking us to step down the bill. Is that why the majority side is fighting against the bill? The excuse given today that the chairman of the committee is not in the chamber so we can’t take the amendment is alien to the practice of this house because the ranking member was present.
“Even government bills when the chairman is not present, the ranking member is able to take the amendment that comes in the name of the chairman because amendments of the committee always stand in the name of the chair. The amendments, about 43 of them, that have been table are amendments that have been agreed upon between us as sponsors and the committee so they won’t stand in my name, they will stand in the name of the committee chair but it doesn’t mean that only the committee chair can move it. If the government business, the ranking member can move the amendment, how is it that in a private members’ bill when the private members say that are comfortable with the private member moving the bill, the sit-in speaker says we can’t take the bill because the chairman is not there.”
Regarding the passage of this bill, Majority Leader Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said that Parliament would consider the Bill.
Speaking at a Leaders’ Media Briefing in Parliament on Tuesday, November 7, he assured that the House would find space for its consideration.
“If we are not able to deal with it this meeting, we have to deal with it in the early part of the next succeeding meeting, which will be the First Meeting of the Fourth Session,” the Suame lawmaker said.