THE recent discussion in Ghana now has been LGBTQ+ and its associated issues. A lot of people have been speaking on the matter and I wish to add my opinion to it. From my observations, some people are making genuine arguments to support their position whiles others are shifting the goal post of the whole matter in controversy. I will, first of all, explain the democratic logic behind the LGBTQ+ as a right from the western perspective, massage some reasons why others are rejecting LGBTQ+ and restrict the discussion to the broad western democracy in African and how its experience should prompt African leaders to take a good stance, from the cultural perspective.
THE situation Ghana and other African countries are facing is that African countries have borrowed western democracy from the west and the Westerners are telling them that their current practice of democracy is corrupted because it is curtailing the personal rights of some people and that they should revise their scope of democracy to include the LGBTQ+ right to serve the interest of all. Democracy preaches that individuals should be given the rights and freedom to make personal decisions.
FROM a philosophical point of view, for a country to grant any right to its citizens, checks ought to be made to ascertain whether or not, the said freedom or right will lead to personal decisions of individuals that will not disturb the country’s peace and stability, the economy among other national parameters. For instance, if certain groups are calling for the legalization of marijuana on the basis that it will be a personal decision to enjoy that right, it can be argued that marijuana has the potential to influence peoples behavior to act abnormally in society and for that reason, it will increase crime rate in the state. On this genuine basis, such right can not be granted.
ANOTHER consideration to make is to check whether or not, the right in question will possibly contradict other critical laws in the state or it is just a matter of broadening the existing laws to cover it. Again, checks ought to be made to determine that by including a new right or freedom to the existing ones, the said demand is democratic intrinsically or not. Therefore, the LGBTQ+ right and its supporters are concluding on these grounds above and African countries including Ghana are to consider them.
Those fighting for the LGBTQ+ are asking for democratic inclusion not an imposition on the people. They are claiming for a right under democracy: a matter of choice just as participating in voting or not participating in voting is a matter of personal choice, just as joining a religious organization or not is a matter of personal choice, all under our democratic practice.
HAVING explained democratic nature of the LGBTQ+, few reasons ought to be refuted.
I personally disagree with those people who are rejecting the LGBTQ+ on their religious grounds. If the Bible or Quran is the major reason why you are rejecting LGBTQ+, then you are confusing a constitutional and National issue with a religious issue. In Ghana for instance, it is the 1992 constitution that rules Ghanaians and not the Christian Bible or the Muslims Qur’an. Producing Biblical or Qur’anic verses to make a case against the LGBTQ+ reduces the argument from a substantial national discourse to a verbal discourse and a gross form of equivocation. NOT all Ghanaians are Christians or Muslims and that it wrong to employ one’s religious standards in judging National issues of this nature.It is ONLY the constitution of Ghana that can put one into prison or set one free to Walk around in the country, it is not the Bible or Quran.
THEREFORE,, a mere rejection or acceptance of LGBTQ+ will not be fair; genuine reasons should be adduced to authenticate the position on either the acceptance or rejection of the LGBTQ+ right. In fact, a recent discovery of LGBTQ+ offices indicates that some PEOPLE are probably into it and have interest. For such a decision to be made, African countries should or ought to consider factors such as, cultural factors, economic factors, social factors, health factors, psychological factors, short-run effects and long-run effects, The remaining post focuses lightly on culture.
From a cultural perspective, African countries have already borrowed Western democratic culture to supplant their old system of rule and practices. Culture has an intellectual part that has to do with how society thinks. In fact, the intellectual part serves as the link between culture and Civilization. Again, the culture of every society is gathered from experiences of the society and therefore exist for the well being of the entire society. In reality, some cultures attain civilization because the intellectual aspect produces ideas, innovations and systems to lift the wellbeing of the entire society to a better level. That necessitates the act of borrowing ones cultural.
HOWEVER, that does not mean that the said developed culture should be adopted blindly. It ought to be scrutinized and or if possible, be contextualized to suit the behavioral and psychological nature of the people in the borrowed culture, By relating this Africans and western democracy, African countries are already suffering from democratic challenges because no attempts were or have been made to contextualize the system in the African context. The practice of democracy has resulted in wars on the continent, division of our people into party allies in our various countries where one becomes an enemy for belonging to a different political party, people’s opportunities are dependent on whether their parties are in power, political parties are mostly identified by tribes and not ideologies, criticizing a government puts one’s life at risk, businesses are closed deliberately and jobs are lost because of different political affiliation matters.
MEANWHILE, Western democracy has been tried and tested in the cultural life of these westerners for many centuries so they really understand it and practice it well. The status quo is that there are democratic challenges African countries are battling with, so if the Westerners are calling for adoption of a new right they have introduced, African leaders should not accept it blindly by looking at its consequences in the area of health, social, economic, psychological and whether it will, with time, articulate with the African culture to avoid further negative democratic externalities.
WE have so many challenges to beat as a continent, but we should position ourselves in a manner that will develop us without destroying us. Even though this decision might influence our foreign policies towards some countries that are favouring the practice of LGBTQ+, the leaders should firmly stand for the truth irrespective of whether it will be bitter to the foreign world or the locals. WHO AM I TO TAKE A STAND HERE WHILES JOYCE IS THE NAME OF MY LOVE?
KWEKU MENSAH AMPONSAH
BA ECONOMICS WITH PHILOSOPHY,
UNIVERSITY OF GHANA, LEGON.