By: Hamdya Muhammad
Patrick Brenny, a UNAIDS Programme Officer for West and Central Africa has told news men in Accra that the Ghana Anti LGBTQ+ Bill an upfront to the fight against HIV Aids campaign in the region.
According to him, if the bill pass into law will go a long way in distrupting the current fight the UNAIDS has embarked.
He said “UNAIDS stands squarely on the side of human rights, expresses its solidarity with LGBTQ+ people in Ghana and urged lawmakers to reject this bill.”
“This proposed legislation is a gross violation of the human rights of Ghana’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, who already face high levels of violence, abuse, stigma and discrimination,” he added.
The draft law goes further by imposing a maximum five-year term for anyone who is gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, pansexual and non-binary – someone who does not identify as male or female.
It also makes advocating for LGBTQ+ rights, sympathising or offering help – financial or medical – to LGBT+ people or their organisations a crime punishable by up to 10 years in jail.
The UNAIDS, statistics shows about 470,000 Africans living with HIV die every year because they cannot or do not get tested and so miss out of treatment.
Vulnerable groups include men who have sex with men, along with transgender people and sex workers who encounter persecution, stifling their chances of getting help.
Some 60% of the 350,000 Ghanaians living with HIV currently get anti-retroviral therapy.
This drops to 3.7% for the estimated 55,000 men who have sex with men who are living with HIV in Ghana, data shows.
Brenny said while AIDS-related deaths in Ghana have fallen by more than a third to 13,000 since 2010, and new infections are down about a fifth – the bill would create “strong headwinds” against forging future progress.
“If passed, this legislation will have the certain effect of driving people further away from HIV prevention, care and treatment services and endanger the advances made,” he said.
The European Union, Britain and the World Bank – which have provided a total of $265 million in 2018/19 – urged Ghana to uphold protections enshrined in the country’s constitution.
“The EU actively condemns discriminatory laws, policies and practices, including the criminalisation of consenting same-sex relations between adults or transgender identities,” he stated.