Ghana’s Supreme Court Hears Challenge To Anti-LGBTQ+ Bill

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Ghana’s Supreme Court has begun hearing a challenge to the anti-LGBTQ+ bill passed by parliament in February.

The court granted a request by lawyer and journalist Richard Dela Sky to challenge the controversial bill.

The bill prescribes a three-year jail term for people who identify as gay and five to 10 years for LGBT advocates.

The lawsuit, which was filed in March, asked the court to prevent the speaker and clerk of parliament from sending the bill to the president and to also stop President Nana Akufo Addo from signing the bill into law.

A second case brought by academic researcher Dr Amanda Odoi challenging the constitutionality of the bill was also heard by the court.

The first day of hearings took place in a tense atmosphere with heated arguments during oral submissions between legal representatives of the various parties and the chief justice.

Chief Justice Gertrude Torkornoo expressed concern about the strong language used in some of the sworn statements.

“I think that the language is intemperate, a lot of the paragraphs contain language that is inappropriate, scandalous, so I want to give you directions,” she said.

The tense events on day one of the hearing did not come as a surprise to many given the controversial nature of the bill, which has been condemned by Western donors and human rights groups.

The hearing was presided over by the chief justice along with four other Supreme Court judges and broadcast live on television, because of the keen interest in the case among Ghanaians.

President Akufo Addo had said he would await the verdict of the Supreme Court before deciding whether or not to sign the bill into law.

The case has been adjourned to 17 May.