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From: Prince Abbey; pabbeylove@yahoo.com          Published On: February 5, 2013, 15:51 GMT
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Nana Oye Lithur

Background – President John Mahama of Ghana has nominated a human right advocate, Madam Nana Oye Lithur for the position of Minister for Gender, Children & Social Protection in his new administration. She went through the statutory vetting session with a Select Committee of Ghana’s Parliament and the main issue was about her views on gay and lesbian rights. Many Ghanaians and significant groups, particularly the Clergy in the country are kicked against her confirmation. The view espoused by these groups was that homosexuality is against the norms and cultural values of the Ghanaian people and that Nana Oye’s position violates that.

WHAT – As a human right, sexual orientation is a relatively recent notion in terms of both law practice and in politics. The main principles that are emphasized in guiding the rights approach on sexual orientation relate to equality and non-discrimination. Human rights advocates, lawyers and other such activists talk about ensuring social justice and guaranteeing the dignity of lesbians, gays and bisexuals. The Right to Sexual Orientation is an umbrella right that includes other such rights as the right to non-discrimination; the right to life; the right to be free from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment; the freedom of movement; the right to a fair trial; the right to privacy; the rights to free expression and free association; the right to work; the right to form a family and the right to education.

The right to sexual orientation is not explicit in any International Human Rights Laws but is founded in some instruments such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

WHY – The biggest argument on the homosexuality platform is that of the Nature versus Nurture Debate. Are gays and lesbian born or are these choices made by people? Subsequently, the next question asked by the Nurture proponents is that ‘Can it be cured?’ This falls then in the place of whether homosexuality is a mental problem or a sin. There are also scientific issues in terms of the reproduction of the species and the long term effect of social organization.

WHO – According to some studies, between 2%-10% of people have had some homosexual relation sometime in their lifetime. There is a current global movement of homosexuals with the aims of increased visibility, recognition and legal rights for homosexual people; including the rights to marriage and civil unions, adoption and parenting, employment, military service, equal access to health care, and the introduction of anti-bullying legislation. Notable Gay advocacy groups are Human Rights Campaign, Global Respect in Education, People Like Us, Transgender Europe, Act Up, Equality Network, OutRage!, Stonewall, Gay Activists Alliance and Society for Human Rights.

HOW – Religion has been the major opponent of the spread of homosexual rights across the world. Every major religion in the world generally frowns on homosexuality with varying degrees of tolerance. The Catholic Church, however, while describing homosexuality as a disorder and sinful; have also issued a statement from the Holy See that urges countries to do away with criminal penalties against homosexual persons. The Holy See however opposes a resolution at the United Nations urging the decriminalization of homosexuality. There are a significant number of gay priests and bishops in the Roman Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran traditions.

WHERE – Society’s acceptance of homosexuality is lowest in Asian and African countries, and is highest in Europe, Australia, and the Americas. Western society, in particular, have become increasingly tolerant of homosexuals over the past few decades. In West Africa, Same Sex Relations are legal in Burkina Faso, Cape-Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Niger and Sierra Leone. In Ghana, same sex relations are illegal and with a penalty of up to 3 years imprisonment.

WHEN – It is becoming more generally acknowledged that homosexuality and its acceptance will continue to rise in the future; almost becoming as common as racism or ageism in the eyes of the law. In Religion, it will continue to be seen as a moral wrong but could lose the labelling as ‘unnatural’. In fact, there are predictions that the world will soon move on to even higher forms of sexual orientation such as robotsexuality and zoosexuality. There are two final frontiers really for the spread of homosexuality; that is Gay Marriage and Africa. If the United Kingdom does accept Gay Marriage this year, 2013 (as is being proposed by UK Prime Minister, David Cameron), then that will leave only some countries in Africa, such as Ghana in the way of a worldwide acceptance of the right to sexual orientation.

****We use Lundvall and Johnson’s ‘Six Knows’ to go in-depth into a current global issue focusing on making them relevant to you.

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