Just some few weeks ago gays and lesbians in the United States received a major Christmas hamper from the country’s politicians when the Senate voted 65 to 31, to repeal the military’s Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. By the repeal gay and lesbians in the US military can be open about their sexuality, and receive the same treatment as non-gays and lesbians. Some of the senators who voted against the bill insist it has the effect of undermining military cohesion. Senator John McCain who had previously supported the policy slammed it`, insisting it’ll weaken the military’s efforts in future combats.
His protestation, like those who voted against it, was finally stitched up in the garbage when President Barack Obama assented to it on Wednesday, few days before Christmas. "This is a very good day," Mr Obama said.
"This morning I'm proud to sign a law that will bring an end to 'don't ask, don't tell,” adding: "No longer will tens of thousands of Americans be asked to live a lie in order to serve the country that they love."
The policy was one of Obama’s objectives before heading to the white house. He also said it will allow many Americans serving in the military to do so with open mind without fear of being “forced to leave.”
"No longer will our country be denied the service of thousands of patriotic Americans who were forced to leave the military, regardless of their skills, no matter their bravery or their zeal, no matter their years of exemplary performance because they happen to be gay."
But there those Americans who continue to stress family values. Discussions on the practice often breed controversy-even in so-called developed societies where people’s sexuality is left to them. And for those in Africa and Ghana to be specific, the practice does not even exist. It stinks. It is never on any menu for breakfast or even dinner. .
Whoever brings that up might likely be skinned alive, literally. Often, religion has always become a convenient reference point for those who come out strongly on the practice. The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is such a perfect reference. I’m not going to go into that. The last time I posted something on my wall about gay practice, a friend accused me of being xenophobic. Africa is no home to the practice, though one may see South Africa as an exception.
The former apartheid country has liberal laws towards the practice which most countries on the continent especially Zimbabwe does not approve. Robert Mugabe described them as worst than ‘pigs and dogs.” He stepped on the tail of gay activists who even called for sanctions to be applied to his country. Ghana has no law against the practice but the society is very unwelcoming of those involved in it, something human rights activists say violate their rights. What right? That is the question people have often asked: Do gays have rights?
But I think recent comments by the Acting Commissioner of the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Ms Hanna Bossman, that the rights of practitioners should be respected will amount to ruffling feathers especially among religious communities. The last time the issue came up a senior member of the clergy said any attempt to endorse the practice could amount to a huge curse on Ghana. I thought that was complete rubbish! Those who are raining curses on the country are those corrupt politicians that clergyman sits in council with, eat with and even depend on them for diplomatic passports so they can avoid being arrested for drug trafficking. Their’ behaviour is what’s keeping those corrupt politicians in place.
Inasmuch as I’m not privy to any information about gays and lesbians holding themselves up as preachers in most Ghanaian churches, there are more practitioners sitting in pews every Sunday. . Ms. Back to Hanna Bossman’s assertion. She said gays and lesbians should not be condemned based on people’s morality and instead urged Ghanaians to “respect the humanity in other people. Whatever your morality is, I would expect that people will respect your rights.”
She went further to say: “We are talking about fundamental human rights of people okay -freedom of choice. In as much as it is not criminal or it is not trampling on the rights of others, I think that we should respect it. You can be opposed to it but that does not give you the right to go and harm somebody or to go and do things that you are not supposed to do against that person.”
Not her but there have been other human right groups in Ghana who are often advocating for such persons to be given the recognition so they can be in the open and not go underground, since that could be bad for the society and the safety of children.
Again, I have heard senior clergymen called for the respects of gay and lesbians to be respected, even when we disagree with their sexuality. I was reading an article in the December 2010 edition of the US magazine Essence and in an article written by the civil right campaigner Rev Al Sharpton in attempting to address allegations against Atlanta based Bishop Eddie Long by some former church members that he sodomised them, Rev. Al Sharpton wondered the manner by which the accusation by the youngmen had been flatly dismissed and wondered if the same could have taken place if women had made the allegations. He said rather than pretend the practice is not going on in the church; the clergy should wake up and end the pretence.
He was convinced that is the only way out in addressing the growing culture of the practice in the church.