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President Addo and the contentious issue of homosexuality


From all indications, the President, Mr. Akuffo Addo did not see it coming — the angry and viscereal reaction from a large section of Ghanaians to his innocuous assertion in an interview with Al Jazeera that, given the prevailing progressive climate in Ghana, homosexuality could probably be legalized, someday.

Homosexuality is a contentious and controversial issue, small wonder that any mention of it is enough to stir raw emotions across the political divide. Ironically, it is the one issue that unites bitter political enemies.

The anger towards the president was therefore palpable and cut across vast sections of the Ghanaian society; political allies and foes pounced on the president, and religious and traditional leaders took turns pointing angry fingers at Mr. Addo.

The bleating and holier-than-thou attitude on display in the last few days was hysterical, if not downright puerile. Those who came out to pour abuse on the president were just mocking for the camera. They dwelt on what the President did not say to Al Jazeera and began throwing temper tantrums.

In the interview Mr. Addo came across as deliberate, cautious and non-committal. He did not indicate support for the homosexual lifestyle as has been wrongly interpreted by many Ghanaians.

Instead, Mr. Addo laid out a broad and cogent explanation, contending that should there be a ground swell of support to legalize homosexuality in Ghana, it could take place. He then cited England’s initial resistance to homosexuality and its eventual turnaround and acceptance of the lifestyle as a scenario that could just as well happen in Ghana.

Ghanaians were not buying it: Mr. Addo was out of line, some said and others promised fire and brimstone should the president even contemplate doing anything remotely close to legitimizing homosexuality.

Mr. Addo, is not by any stretch of the imagination, a fool: he is acutely aware of the impact of his statement; if he as much as endorses the legalization of homosexuality, the social and political fallout could be seismic.

Ghana is a deeply traditional and conservative society and proudly rejects certain western values and norms it deems anathema. It views with unparalleled and intense angst the fact that homosexuality has gradually, but steadily, made inroads into the country, finding warm reception among the youth.

By all accounts, Mr. Addo appears to have underestimated the power of the social and political forces pushing against homosexuality in our society. They were out there in their numbers to rebuke and scorn him for a statement that seems to favor homosexuals.

Mr. Addo may be a progressive, but he is presiding over a horde of religious and social conservatives of the hardcore variety. They are thus less accepting of lifestyles and values that threaten the fabric of their society.





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