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Sam George reveals how US Embassy is using visa to ‘blackmail’ MPs

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• Sam George says some embassies are threatening MPs with visa ban

• He says the MPs remain focused on passing the bill

• Muntaka Mohammed has condemned the actions of the embassies

Sam Nartey George, the lead advocate for the anti-LGBTQ+ bill has provided an account of how the United States Ambassador to Ghana, Stephanie Sullivan is employing different measures to impede the progress of the bill.

The Ningo Prampram MP revealed on Metro TV (October 14 edition of Good Morning Ghana) that the US ambassador has been engaging the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin and one of the eight signatories to the bill, to have them withdraw their support for it.

Sam George said that the ambassador allegedly had a phone conversation with Alban Bagbin and the said colleague MP during which she threatened them with visa denials.

Describing it as ‘cheap blackmail,’ Sam George also detailed how the US Embassy in Ghana is targeting other proponents of the bill with visa denials.

He however warned, that the MPs will not be cowed into silence and will pass the bill irrespective of the pressure from external forces.

“As for the threats they’ve been coming from far and near. In fact one of the ambassadors, a woman placed a phone call to the Speaker of Parliament and at least one signatory to the bill asking him to withdraw from it.

“That signatory to the bill is my senior in parliament who applied for a visa in that embassy and was refused. He’s had five years visas three times from that country but they refused him after they called him to resign.

“It shouldn’t come as a shock to anybody because the Americans use visas as cheap blackmail. But it is not going to cow any of us. Some members of the bill have had visa applications pending at the American Embassy.

“Because of the Covid-19 they are not giving general visas but there is a special dispensation for students – politicians and MPs fall within that category. Parliament has sent in a number of applications requesting dates for the submission of forms, what they’ve done is to decline to give a date,” Sam George said on Metro TV.

Background

Parliament is expected to discuss a Private Member’s Bill submitted by some eight MPs. The 38-page bill before parliament, among other things, stipulates that, people of the same sex who engage in sexual intercourse are “liable on summary conviction, to a fine of not less than seven hundred and fifty penalty units and not more than five thousand penalty units, or to a term of imprisonment of not less than three years and not more than five years or both.”

The Bill targets persons who “hold out as a lesbian, a gay, a transgender, a transsexual, a queer, a pansexual, an ally, a non-binary or any other sexual or gender identity that is contrary to the binary categories of male and female.”

The Bill also targets promoters and advocates of LGBTQ+ rights including, “a person who, by use of media, technological platform, technological account or any other means, produces, procures, markets, broadcasts, disseminates, publishes or distributes a material for purposes of promoting an activity prohibited under the Bill, or a person uses an electronic device, the Internet service, a film, or any other device capable of electronic storage or transmission to produce, procure, market, broadcast, disseminate, publishes or distribute a material for purposes of promoting an activity prohibited under the Bill” as well as a person who “promotes, supports sympathy for or a change of public opinion towards an act prohibited under the Bill.”

As part of its provisions, the Bill outlines that a flouter can be sentenced to a jail term of not less than six years or not more than ten years imprisonment. At the back of the public support the Bill has received, a group of academicians and other professionals have expressed their opposition to the bill.

According to the group of 18, the bill, ‘Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values’, when passed into law, would erode a raft of fundamental human rights, as enshrined in the 1992 Constitution.

Members of the group opposing the anti-gay bill include Mr Akoto Ampaw; author, scholar and former Director of the UN Economic Commission for Africa, Prof. Emerita Takyiwaa Manuh; a communications and media expert, Prof. Kwame Karikari; the Dean of the University of Ghana (Legon) School of Law, Prof. Raymond Atuguba, and the Dean of the University of Ghana School of Information and Communication Studies, Prof. Audrey Gadzekpo.

The Director of the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, Professor Dzodzi Tsikata; the Executive Director of the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), Professor H. Kwasi Prempeh, and a former Executive Director of CDD-Ghana, Prof. Kofi Gyimah-Boadi, are also members of the group. Others are Dr Rose Mensah-Kutin, Dr Yao Graham, Mr Kwasi Adu Amankwah, Dr Kojo Asante, Mr Kingsley Ofei-Nkansah, Mr Akunu Dake, Mr Tetteh Hormeku-Ajie, Dr Charles Wereko-Brobby, Dr Joseph Asunka and Nana Ama Agyemang Asante.

Source: www.ghanaweb.com

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