The term GAY may refer to the act of two males having sexual or amorous contact with each other. In recent times, it has been used generally and repeatedly to refer to same sex relations.
That is female to female (lesbians) as well as male to male (homosexuals). It is a phenomenon that can arguably be said to have existed since the existence of mankind.
For in the early classical histories, there were stories and evidence of gay practice. In fact the word lesbianism is derived from an old Greek city known as Lesbos. The story is told that upon the return from a victorious war, the men of the city of Lesbos brought a lot of booty which included women from the defeated city. This made the women in the city of Lesbos very jealous since the husbands were having sexual relations with the enslaved, women at the neglect of their wives. Can you imagine the jealousy of a sex starved woman? The women therefore had a meeting and agreed to kill all their husbands to prevent further incidences in the future.
They were going to train their male kids to avoid such situations when they grow. After the death of all the men in the city of Lesbos, it now became clear that the women had to satisfy their own sexual desires. The other cities, who were already calling the people of Lesbos as Lesbians (as people of Ghana are called Ghanaians,) now attributed the term lesbian to any woman who was suspected of having amorous relations with other women.
In fact, homosexuality has been known in the history of wars, when the ancient warriors had to be at battle grounds for years without any women with them. The Athenians are particularly, known for this since their military training required separations of young men into messes for the purposes of military training.
In spite of the long existence of the acts of homosexuals, the phenomenon has become a very contemporary issue. It has created tension between human rights and religion. It has permeated political class and has been the topic of discussion extensively on international forums and high level meetings. It has now become an economic policy tool for bargain. The West is using it to threaten the countries of the global south of reducing economic support if they don’t support it. In Ghana, it became a very important topic for public discourse soon after the assumption of office by President John Mahama. His friendship with a wealthy and known gay activist, and practitioner, Andrew Solomon, and his appointment of Nana Oye Lithur, a local human right activist, raised a lot of suspicion as to whether the president supported gay or not.
Whilst some African states are neutral in their stance on Gay rights, the majority of countries in Africa are classified by the UN as having anti-gay laws including Ghana. In Ghana, the Criminal and Other Offences Act 1960, ACT 29 proscribes any unnatural canal knowledge. The Ghanaian law has however failed to give a definition of what the unnatural canal knowledge is. One will therefore not be wrong to adopt the definition in the English law, from which we inherited our legal system. The English law has defined natural canal knowledge as the penal penetration of the vagina. By implication, any sexual activity which is not the penal penetration of the vagina is unnatural and therefore a crime in Ghana. What I find laughable about this law is that it may have even criminalised “kissing” in Ghana, since kissing is a sexual activity which is not a penal penetration of the vagina.
Recently, the Parliament of Uganda passed a law to tighten punishments for gays. To my surprise, the president rejected the bill and said he will not sign. He apparently cannot afford to lose grants from the West. An accent to the bill to make it a law will mean that Uganda will have a lot of sanctions and impositions on it, economically.
Meanwhile, at the same time, a Nigerian has been convicted by Sharia Law in the Northern state of Buachi. He was lucky the court found that he had at the time repented in the past seven years so they reduced the sentence of stoning to death to twenty lashes in public. Interestingly, in few weeks after this conviction, the federal government passed an anti-gay marriage law which President Goodluck Jonathan has assented. This has sparked negative reactions from Europe and America. As usual, they are threatening to cut down support for Nigeria whiles the Christians in Nigeria have expressed open support for the Law.
The question of what is the motivating factor for people who engage in such acts can lead us to think widely. For me as a person, I do not see how I can look at the beautiful women around me and the adoration God has put in between their thighs and still look to a fellow man for sexual satisfaction. In my personal prejudices alone, it would be only a mentally retarded man who would ignore the sweetness of a woman and go in for a man and vice-versa. However, my prejudices alone cannot answer the question of why they are gay.
Some have said gay is a tool of the devil and illuminati to destroy the world. Others have said it is due to peer influence which I most associate with. Some have also said it is due to mental derangement which is also close to my prejudices. Yet still, an option which many are failing to look at is what I call, the wanton usurpation of man’s authority and happiness by women in the name of human rights as well as the irresponsibleness that some men have also become.
In recent times, what has shocked many people is the declaration by two high profile “men of God” that gay must be accepted in the church. First of all, the Pope is reported to have said and I quote “who am I to drive away Homosexuals if they want to come to God.” Prophet T.B Joshua is also reported to have said gay must be welcome in the church and embraced because they need Christ. These two statements by the international men of God, seem to be in sharp contrast to what majority of the religious brotherhood believe in Africa. For most African religious leaders, gay is an abomination and must be forbidden by the Law. The, Christians especially run to Genesis in the bible and remind us of the story of Sodom and Gomorra. “If we allow gay to continue, then the world is going to be destroyed,” they say. Recently, the moderator of Presbyterian Church of Ghana said on Joy FM in Accra, that Ghana must simply implement the law to forbid gay since the law has said any unnatural canal knowledge is a crime. To him and many other Christians, when gay is not checked, the Lord will bring calamity. Even though I am a Christian, the problem I have with this argument is that, the second coming of Christ, is not going to be delayed or hastened by gay. It is a privilege that God only has. Even Christ said he does not know when the time will come, for the Father has hidden it from him. If the world should come to an end today, I believe the righteous people would be happy because it will be time for their heavenly reward. Why should we be afraid that gay is going to destroy the world since our ultimate aim is to go to heaven?
On the point of the morality of gay, the question I keep asking is that, is gay a more serious sin than adultery, fornication, alcoholism and other forms of socially immoral acts? If these acts are all sin and have not been criminalised, then why is the religious constituency in Africa seeking for a law to make gay a crime? Is it not the duty of the church to preach against all these gay just as they preach against adultery and alcoholism?
These events have bothered my mind for some time and it has led me to think aloud on the question of whether gay can be stopped by Law. I am asking this question not because I do not believe in the strength of the legal system, but rather because of how I perceive the legal system. Our legal system in Ghana and in Africa is based on evidence. Two male adults, female or male meet in their closet. They undress and do what they desire of each other. Who has the right to monitor the privacy of such adults? Who can marshal evidence to adduce that there has been acts that amount to canal knowledge of the two which are unnatural in the case of Ghana. And how can such evidence be uncovered without evading the privacy of these individuals. Are we going to ignore the fundamental principle of freedom of the individual to his privacy in the fight against gay?
Undoubtedly, gay has become a problem of the world, especially Africa. To solve this problem, I think a careful analysis of the causes of gay will reveal a better solution to the issue of gay. On the claim that it is a tool of the devil and illuminati to destroy the world, I think the only solution would be for the men of faith to pray against the devil and illuminati. For it is said that evil triumphs when good men keep quiet.
On the second issue of peer influence, I think that this is perhaps the most complex situation that needs a tactical analysis of the whole issue. I cannot pretend to have all the knowledge; I will however attempt to offer a solution to this in summary. Peer influence is bound to affect everyone. Psychologists believe that the mood of people around you determines your mood and attitude towards life. It is therefore not wrong to assume that if you have friends who are gay, you are also likely to be gay. It is therefore very necessary, that parents and religious leaders lead in the fight against negative peer influence. This can only be achieved in a very democratic environment in the home. Any young person who knows his parents to be very strict is not likely to open up when they come into contact with peers who introduce them to things which they know their parents are not likely to approve. It will therefore require an extra effort to make friends with the kids in order to make them more comfortable to open up and tell their experiences to their parents. The role of the church is quite critical in all of this.
Today, the average church leaders are only concerned with numbers of the congregation. Since the numbers is the economic power. This has made it quite difficult for church leaders to monitor the behaviour of church members and counsel them effectively. The best they can do is an open pulpit condemnation of wrong acts, which either embarrasses some people or they forgot the message after the sermon.
Closely related to the issue of peer influence is also the breakdown of the core institution of marriage. Modern life and the era of human rights have made marriage a nightmare for most men and women. Imagine a very stressful day at office, only to come home to meet a nagging wife who would quarrel with you over every little thing. Even worse is the one who will neither talk to you nor respond when you ask for anything. Just consider the rate of divorce in marriages of less than two years. The laws are increasingly putting heavy burden on the men in the case of divorce thus making it a good economic venture for women. Some women, who are greedy, will therefore do everything possible for a divorce once they know they can make a fortune out of the divorce. So for a man, who sees life to be short and therefore wants to enjoy, why will it be wrong for him to have all the fun he wants with his fellow man who understands him. After all, sex constitutes just about 10% of the things married people do together. If he can get all the 90% (companionship, assistance, understanding, compatibility, mutuality of interest, the happiness in conversations etc.,) in his fellow man, then what is the use of sex with a woman?
On the other hand, some men have also become very irresponsible and problematic in marriages. They beat women like their opponents in boxing rings, provide nothing but expect to be treated as kings in the home. All these are thriving because the Church, Islam and traditional society has failed to play its role effectively. The social welfare which could have complemented the religious organisation has also been destroyed by lack of funds, inefficiency and corruption.
To me, the issue of gay has become a problem for Africa because we have chosen to approach life from just the mere spiritual aspect and failed to look at the physical things that has become problem for us.
The only institutions that have the capacity to stop gay are the Church, Islam and the traditional religion and family system. Any attempt to stop gay by law is not likely to succeed. The law can only prevent a public display and approval of gay but cannot prevent the private acts of gay which the Lord will see anyway.
It is therefore my submission that our religious leaders take up the mantle of fighting gay with practical steps. For in the courts of law, the name of the game is evidence. Our society cannot rely solely on legislation to remove gay from Africa. I had an interesting discussion with a fellow Christian lady who was optimistic that our governments can install secrete cameras in order to check gay. My response to her was that, if the government can afford to install cameras in the city, then it should rather be installed to check robbery and corruption. I think the issue of gay is a moral one. Any attempt to stop gay by legal means will be only a waste of time and resources. Such time that Parliaments may use in debating gay should be used to debate the productivity of our economy. The Christian Council and Islamic Councils have moral obligation to instill the fear of the Lord in our kids.
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