LGBTQ+ Canons and members of the Church of England have staged a demonstration at a meeting of the General Synod showing solidarity with queer Ghanaians who are facing criminalisation in the nation.
The demonstration, which is in response to the Anglican Church of Ghana expressing its support for a law that would criminalise LGBTQ+ people, saw a powerful act of unity with LGBTQ+ members standing up wearing signs with the message “Soon to be imprisoned in Ghana” around their necks.
Speaking in defence of Ghana’s rainbow community, Canon Simon Butler addressed the Synod directly, saying, “this is a very serious matter indeed to hear the bishops in our sister church could support such a horrific thing, and I give thanks to God for their change in approach.”
Butler also added that members of the church should “think very carefully” about the messages they deliver, saying their words “touch lives at home as well as overseas.”
“They touch lives of Christian people in Ghana, some of them LGBTI+, and they touch the lives of people like me here,” he explained.
“Increasingly, I feel that LGBTI people in the communion … are pleading to be listened to, while the ecclesiastical superpowers huddle together concerned about what can work for them.”
He added, “I’ve done the sums, Synod. At least 10 per cent of this Synod are LGBTI+. The coming years will determine whether we are equal members or merely tolerated. Some of us today, but understandably on this first day, not all of us want to be visible. We want to signify our presence to you and demonstrate our solidarity with our Ghanaian LGBTI sisters and brothers.”
Highlighting the severity of the issue facing queer Ghanaians, Butler explained that at least 50 people in the Synod would face imprisonment under the terms of the Ghanaian law.
“Friends, this is just a simple gesture to remind us in the coming five years that this matter is about real lives – in Ghana and here.”
“When we speak in this Synod, when we table questions or blog, or when we publish statements that will be read by victims of violence and those who want to do people like us harm, may this be the last occasion that we have to remind you of this.”
Ghana’s LGBTQ+ community is now at the mercy of the nations parliament who are currently debating the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill 2021. If passed, the legislation would make it a crime to advocator for LGBTQ+ rights, with those convicted facing up to 10 years in prison.