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Legalbrief   |   your legal news hub Thursday 13 June 2024

Insulting language stalls key LGBTQ case

Ghana's Supreme Court say lawyers battling over the legality of one of Africa's most restrictive anti-LGBTQ Bills must amend their motions due to insulting language in their submissions before resuming the case. Parliament in February unanimously passed the Bill that would intensify a crackdown on LGBTQ rights in the West African nation, but President Nana Akufo-Addo has delayed signing it with his office citing pending challenges at the Supreme Court. TimesLIVE reports that the ruling by Chief Justice Gertrude Torkornoo to adjourn Wednesday's first hearing on the challenges without setting a new date further delays any resolution on a Bill that, if signed into law, could jeopardise donor funding for a country facing an economic crisis.

BBC News reports that the first day of hearings took place in a tense atmosphere with heated arguments during oral submissions between legal representatives of the various parties and the CJ. Torkornoo expressed concern about the strong language used in some of the sworn statements. ‘I think that the language is intemperate, a lot of the paragraphs contain language that is inappropriate, scandalous, so I want to give you directions,’ she said. The hearing was presided over by the CJ along with four other Supreme Court judges and broadcast live on television, because of the keen public interest. The Accra Times reports that Attorney-General Godfred Dame on Tuesday wrote to Torkornoo recommending full media coverage of the proceedings. ‘It is my respectful view that the transparency to be engendered by a coverage of the proceedings would be in the best interest of the administration of justice,’ Dame noted.

TimesLIVE reports that gay sex is already punishable with up to three years in jail in Ghana. If the Bill takes effect, it will lengthen the sentence and intensify a crackdown on the rights of LGBTQ people and those accused of promoting lesbian, gay or other minority sexual or gender identities. Supporters of the Bill have been pushing for its promulgation despite a finance ministry warning that it could jeopardise $3.8bn in World Bank financing and derail a $3bn IMF loan package. Rights groups have warned that the new law could lead to further violence against LGBTQ people who already suffer from different forms of discrimination.