YES, I’M GAY!! WHAT YOU GON’ DO ABOUT IT? By Vincent Hinneh Obeng and Abena Oduro Osae

In an interview with the BBC, Patrick; a 21-year-old Ghanaian narrated his ordeal after his mother found out he was gay. He narrated the experience of how his mother packed his clothes and other belongings then threw him out while raining insults on him and constantly wishing he were dead as she would have preferred his dead body to him being gay. Patrick admitted to the interviewer that he identified his sexual orientation at the tender age of 13 but was afraid to “come out” because of the nature of the Ghanaian society.

Ghana is a deeply religious and conservative nation, hence she upholds traditional morals and values although some modern attitudes prevail due to the progressive nature of the world. There has been an ongoing discussion on homosexuality in the public domain especially between the religious groups and their leaders; dominated by Christians and Muslims who have described the act as devilish and detestable. The Christian sect frequently refer to Leviticus 18: 22 which expressly states that: “do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; it is detestable.”

Who is a gay?  English language refers to the community, practices and cultures associated with homosexuality as gay. The term gay is now communally used to describe males engaged in same-sex sexual relations. Homosexual act is a collective name for all bodily contact between persons of the same-sex that is aimed at sexual gratification. It is important to note that sexual gratification is not necessarily restricted to carnal knowledge as activities like kissing and caressing also provide sexual gratification. From the description provided above of the Ghanaian society, it is observed that homosexuality is regarded sinful due to its unnatural nature.

Is homosexuality a crime in Ghana? Besides the view of society on this sensitive subject, it is important to consider what the law says about the act, before one can sufficiently conclude that it is a crime.Section 104(1)(b) popularly referred to as the anti- gay law of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960(Act 29) criminalizes unnatural carnal knowledge between consenting adults describing it as a misdemeanor. Hence anal penetration between a man and woman(straight people) is just as criminal as homosexual anal penetration. Unnatural carnal knowledge occurs when there has been at least a degree of penetration. In plain terms, unnatural carnal knowledge is more or less sodomy which is penile penetration of the anus, as distinguished from the vagina in carnal knowledge. In the case of Gligah & Atsio v. The Republic, where two policemen were prosecuted for the rape of a young woman at the police station where they were on duty; the Supreme Court speaking through Dotse JSC described it as follows. “Carnal knowledge is the penetration of a woman’s vagina by a man’s penis. It does not really matter how deep or however little the penis went into the vagina. So long as there was some penetration beyond what is known as brush work, penetration would have been deemed to have occurred and carnal knowledge taken to have been completed.” One’s imagination can easily run wild as to the meaning of the unnatural equivalent of the aforementioned.

So yes! I’m gay! What are you going to do about it? Homosexuality, though a moral wrong that is abhorred by society, is also a crime. However, it is important to note that we as members of society should refrain from inflicting pain on such persons in the name of correcting a moral wrong but should rather leave the correction and punishment to the State.