The Minister-designate of Justice has stated categorically that Ghana’s constitution does not recognize gay rights and has asked all who believe in the rights of gays to proceed to the Supreme Court for interpretation.
Marietta Appiah Oppong’s view of the law is in sharp contrast to those of her colleague Nana Oye Lithur, Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, who does not support the practice of homosexuality but is convinced that gay people’s rights, like the rights of all other Ghanaians, are guaranteed by the constitution and must be protected.
The Justice Minister-designate told the Appointments Committee on Thursday that the position of the law on homosexuality is clear: “unnatural carnal knowledge is a criminal offence,” she reiterated.
Some lawyers, including John Ndebugri, have stated that the section 104 of the Criminal Offences Act, which Mrs Oppong quoted copiously, does not fully address the practice of homosexuality in Ghana. He said, for instance, that the section of that act would crumble in the face of the practice of lesbianism, because lesbians, as women, lack penises to use in the act of sex.
The Justice Minister-designate was brief in her remarks about homosexuality but was unequivocal in proffering her personal opinion on the act. “I disapprove of it,” she said.
She also condemned the death sentence, saying it has no use in Ghana’s statute books.
There have been calls for the death sentence to be implemented in Ghana so that people who commit murder can be killed in in order to deter other potential killers and also to bring closure to the immediate families of the murder victim.
But Mrs Oppong said the primary arguments in support of the death sentence, which are retribution and deterrence, have been disproved by research.
According to her, research has shown that people do not experience emotional healing after the murderer has been put to death by the state.
Countless research has shown again that the death sentence does not necessarily prevent criminals from murdering, she added.
Marietta Appiah Oppong rather advocated for “life imprisonment without parole,” for those convicted for murder.
Even though some Committee members asked questions about judgement debts, Ebo Barton Oduro, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament who chaired the Appointments Committee, prevented the nominee from answering the questions, explaning that there is already a judgement debt commission looking into such matters.