The phrase ‘sovereign nation’ is again back on the debate plate, thanks to US Vice President Kamala Harris’ “human rights” comments in relation to the LGBTQ situation in the country. During a joint press conference with President Nana Akufo Addo, Mrs Harris, who was reacting to a bill passed by MPs in Uganda which criminalises gay and lesbian relationships, expressed her unwavering support for those in the LGBTQ community in Africa and by extension Ghana. She called for the respect of their rights and insisted the United States government will continue to fight for the rights of the LGBTQ community.
“A great deal of work in my career has been to human rights issues and equality issues across the board including, as it relates, to the LGBTQ+ community,” she said.
There is currently a bill in parliament that seeks to criminalise LGBTQ+ relationships in Ghana when passed. President Akufo Addo in response to Mrs Harris’ comments, said the bill is before the country’s parliament and he will “ come in” when it gets to his turn. But not many people are having it, especially those behind the bill. They say the president should have been categorical with his position on the matter since the country has no appetite for endorsing any gay and lesbian rights in the country. Speaker of Parliament Alban Bagbin, obviously exasperated by the subject, labelled Mrs Harris’comment as “undemocratic” and should not be “tolerated”
Speaking to religious leaders on the matter, Mr Bagbin said a SOVEREIGN nation like ghana should not allow itself to be dictated to by anyone on any matter, let alone the attempt to foist LGBTQ+ issues down the nation’s throat.
“What is democracy? That someone should have to dictate to me what is good and what is bad? Unheard of, because we have decided to devalue ourselves and go begging? Come on, we have more than enough. God has created more than enough for every person, the Bill will be passed,”
Mr Bagbin also went after the president. He said he cannot decide for parliament and when the bill is sent to him, it should be implemented. A conversation about gay and lesbian relationships is a delicate matter in this country, so the controversy around it is not surprising to many, including me. WhatsApp platforms have not been spared either, as opinions on the matter are heavily divided.
Apart from the usual cultural norms often mentioned in defence as to why it should not be allowed in the country, there is also the religious argument for it. However, the introduction of the “sovereign nation” angle is what appears to have been mocked by many. In a Twitter space on the matter, a contributor questioned if Ghana is indeed a sovereign state.
“Your entire budget cannot be financed by donor agencies and you expect them not to tell you what you should do,” the contributor said. His position was supported by many people, including those opposed to the whole LGBTQ+ debate. They argue that, since Ghanaian elected officials have shown over the years that they cannot do anything right without being directed, those who advocate for gay and lesbian rights will decide for us how “we should live our lives.”
No country is an Island in itself. It is near impossible for any country to operate on its own. There is however a limit to how much a country can allow another to influence the way it behaves or manage itself. But the same cannot be said about us. The bitter truth is, our overbearing dependence on donor funding has made us susceptible to being dictated to.
Every fibre of our economic bone has been funded by taxes collected from ordinary people in the US, Britain and their friends. The sad reality is that even the donor monies that come are either stolen or misdirected towards projects that have little or no impact on the population.
Since 1957, as a sovereign nation, we have not been able to wane ourselves from the nipple of donor institutions such as the International Monetary Fund. And every single penny from them had come with strict conditions that we had to implement. Obviously, if I come to your house to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, what right do I have to object to you being asked to behave in a certain way?
We may be a sovereign state, but it is all on paper!