LGBTQ rights Uganda

Open letter to the President of Ghana: Reject the anti-LGBTQ+ bill to protect human rights

For the attention of His Excellency President Nana Akufo-Addo, Jubilee House, Kanda, Accra, Ghana.

Your Excellency, Nana Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana,

We, the undersigned organisations, are writing to urge you to reject the Human Sexual Rights and Family Values Bill, 2024 (hereinafter referred to as “the bill”), which constitutes “an immediate and fundamental breach of Ghana’s obligations under human rights law,” according to an analysis by independent experts appointed by the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council.

During Ghana’s 2023 UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR), your government stated that it would ensure the bill complied with the fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed by Ghana’s Constitution. However, organisations and bodies, including Ghana’s Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) and the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), have warned that the bill will worsen already precarious conditions for LGBTQ+ people in the country.

Despite this, on February 28, members of parliament voted to pass the bill, with amendments that will do nothing to improve the outlook for LGBTQ+ people and communities unless you intervene and refuse to sign this draconian piece of legislation into law. We note that on March 19, your  office instructed parliament to refrain from sending the bill for presidential assent until the Supreme Court decides on the suits challenging the bill. We however appeal to Your Excellency, that while it is imperative to consider the constitutionality of the bill on procedural grounds, it must also be noted that the bill fails to meet human rights standards. You must act to protect and promote human rights for all. The fate of Ghana’s LGBTQ+ community now rests in your hands.

Restricting freedom of expression

Access Now, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Rightify Ghana, and other civil society organisations have warned that this law will detrimentally impact digital rights, including the rights to freedom of expression, access to information, and privacy. Clause 10 imposes custodial sentences for users and social media companies in punishment for vague, ill-defined offences such as the promotion of “change in public opinion of prohibited acts” exhibited on social media.

These provisions fail to meet the test for restrictions of freedom of expression as set out in Article 19 (3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which states that any such restrictions must be necessary to protect a legitimate interest. Restricting freedom of expression on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity contradicts the principle of non-discrimination provided for in Article 26 of the ICCPR, and is not needed to protect public morality or any other legitimate aim. As stated by the UN Human Rights Committee, the concept of public morality must be understood in light of the universality of human rights and the principle of non-discrimination, rather than being based on any single tradition. In addition, forcing social media platforms to censor online speech without judicial oversight, while also holding them criminally liable for content posted on their platforms by third parties, will only incentivise these companies to limit freedom of expression and access to information online. 

Enabling offline human rights violations

Human rights experts have noted that, if enacted, the bill will encourage and incite discrimination, hostility, and violence against the LGBTQ+ community. Clause 17 (3) states that any person who verbally or physically abuses, assaults or harasses an LGBTQ+ person will be found guilty of a misdemeanour, as provided by Sections 84 and 87 of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960. This is clearly a toothless provision, intended merely to dispel accusations of discriminatory intent, with no real power to protect LGBTQ+ people. In fact, not only will it do nothing to discourage persecution of LGBTQ+ individuals, it will only further entrench the stigma and abuse that they already experience. It will also require LGBTQ+ people to submit themselves to authorities, thereby exposing their identities and putting themselves at greater risk.

Rightify Ghana notes that anti-LGBTQ+ actors are already exploiting existing intolerances to target and entrap LGBTQ+ people on social media platforms, in some cases leading to in-person abductions and assault. The organisation documented 30 such violations between April and September 2023. In Ghana’s national report submitted during its 2023 UPR, the government argued that the country’s laws protect LGBTQ+ people against violence — but law enforcement practices tell a different story. A report by openDemocracy revealed that a non-binary person was assaulted after receiving threatening messages on X (formerly known as Twitter). When they reported the incident to police, officers refused to take their statement, stating that LGBTQ+ people would soon be criminalised and warning that they would be arrested if they came to police again. Given the harmful disinformation recently spread by the bill’s sponsor, and how access to justice is already elusive for LGBTQ+ people in Ghana, signing this bill into law will only aggravate abuse by state and non-state actors alike.

Systematically suppressing civic space

Once implemented, Clause 14 of the bill will ban all civil society organisations that engage in LGBTQ+ advocacy from operating in Ghana. Not only is this a flagrant breach of the right to freedom of association guaranteed by Article 21 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana; Article 10 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights; and Article 22 of the ICCPR, it will also worsen the ongoing crackdown on Ghana’s civil society organisations. 

In February 2021, a community centre opened by local organisation LGBT Rights Ghana was raided by security officers and subsequently closed down. In May of the same year, authorities raided a workshop organised by LGBTQ+ activists to train paralegals on documenting and reporting human rights violations. Police officers arrested 21 people and charged them with unlawful assembly, claiming that the workshop was “promoting homosexuality,” despite there being no existing legal provisions that prohibited such activities.

Impacting business and human rights

The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) require companies to “avoid causing or contributing to adverse human rights impacts through their own activities.” But for tech companies operating in Ghana, the law’s mandatory requirement to report suspected LGBTQ+ people to authorities will hinder them from fulfilling these human rights obligations. In December 2023, members of the Open for Business Coalition warned that this requirement would indeed conflict with their obligations to uphold international standards of corporate responsibility, as well as violate the right to privacy and infringe on constitutional rights. Particularly for major social media platforms, this bill would hamper their ability to even operate in accordance with their community guidelines which prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, and risks discouraging companies from doing business in Ghana entirely. The bill is bad for business and bad for people. More than 70,000 people worldwide have signed a petition calling for the dismissal of the proposed legislation.


Ghana holds itself as a leader in human rights, and digital rights specifically, on the world stage. With its membership in the Freedom Online Coalition of 39 governments globally, Ghana strives to set standards in respect of human rights in the digital age. Despite the government’s leadership, Ghana’s parliament is trying to further marginalise, stigmatise, and criminalise LGBTQ+ people in Ghana who, as a result of this bill, will lose their rights to freedom of expression, privacy, and freedom of association. This is a step backwards, especially considering the progress made by Ghana’s government in recent years towards protecting the rights of sexual and gender minorities, including establishing a Discrimination Reporting System within the CHRAJ. 

We, the undersigned organisations, urge Your Excellency to build on these previous commitments to protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination and to reject the Human Sexual Rights and Family Values Bill, of 2024. We also call on you to reaffirm Ghana’s obligation to prevent acts that violate and undermine LGBTQ+ people’s fundamental human rights, including the rights to life, to information, to free association, and to freedom of expression.

Yours sincerely,


  • Access Now
  • AfricaNPUD
  • All Out
  • CAISO: Sex and Gender Justice
  • Caribbean Feminist
  • Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria
  • CIVICUS : World Alliance for Citizen Participation
  • Convening for Equality 
  • Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
  • Feminitt Caribbean
  • Freedom House
  • galck+ 
  • Initiative for Equality And Non Discrimination (INEND)
  • Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC)
  • Key Population Consortium of Kenya
  • KuchuTimes Media Group 
  • LEHA Kenya
  • Light Youth Group Cbo
  • Mawjoudin
  • Minority Womyn in Action
  • Mozilla
  • Pwani Feminist Futures Alliance
  • Q-Initiative 
  • Rightify Ghana
  • Talanta Africa – TA
  • The Breadfruit Collective 
  • The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERs)
  • TransHuman Project
  • Zaina Foundation