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    Why the Supreme Court threw out an injunction against the Anti-Gay bill in 2023

    There is currently a stalemate regarding the passage of the controversial Promotion of Human Sexual Rights and Family Values Bill (Anti-gay Bill) into law.
    This is because the president has refused to assent to it, citing an injunction against the Bill filed by a private citizen in the Supreme Court.

    The Anti-gay bill, which criminalizes Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) activities and their promotion in Ghana, was introduced by a bipartisan group of Members of Parliament and was passed by the house on Wednesday, February 28, 2024, more than three years after its introduction.

    The bill, even before its passage, saw several criticisms from a section of Ghanaians with some even taking legal action against it.

    2023 injunction against Anti-gay Bill:

    In fact, two Ghanaians Paul Boama Sefa and Dr Amanda Odoi filed injunctions to stop the passage of the Anti-gay bill even before its first reading in the house.

    Paul Sefa, a farmer, dragged the Speaker of ParliamentAlban Bagbin and the Attorney General, Godfred Dame, to the High Court, accusing the speaker of breaching portions of Ghana’s Constitution with the way the house was handling the bill.

    The farmer argued that despite the bill having financial implications for the Consolidated Fund, it was not handed to parliament with a fiscal impact analysis document.

    Dr Amanda Odoi, a Research Fellow with the Centre for Gender Research, Advocacy and Documentation (CEGRAD), University of Cape Coast (UCC), filed a similar suit in the Supreme Court to stop parliament from proceeding with the passage of the bill, also citing its financial implication.

    Even though GhanaWeb cannot confirm the fate of the suit by Paul Sefa, a nine-member Supreme Court panel, presided over by Chief Justice Gertrude Torkornoo, unanimously dismissed the application filed by Dr Odoi.

    Reasons the court gave for dismissing Dr Odoi’s suit:

    The court ruled that the plaintiff did not give it reason enough to order parliament to stop its processes to pass the anti-gay bill, according to a news report by myjoyonline.com.

    “We have considered the merits of this case and are of the considered view that a prima facie case has not been made to convince us to injunct the work of parliament.

    “Neither have we been convinced to injunct an uncompleted work of parliament. The issues raised by this application for injunction are matters to be determined by the substantive matter. This application for an injunction is dismissed,” the chief justice was quoted to have said.

    The other panel members of the court were Paul Baffoe-Bonnie, Gabriel Pwamang, Mariama Owusu, Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu, Yonny Kulendi, Barbara Ackah-Yensu, Samuel Asiedu and George Koomson.

    Now let us take a look at current issues surrounding the passage of the Anti-gay bill (with the judgement of the court in mind).

    What President Akufo-Addo has said about the bill:

    Even before the said injunction was filed, the President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, ‘injuncted’ himself from taking action on it, as some would put it, citing the action in the apex court of the land during an engagement with the diplomatic community in Ghana, just after the anti-gay bill was passed by parliament.

    In a statement dated Monday, March 4, 2024, the president stated that while he has become aware of the anxieties expressed about the approval of the bill, the international community should be assured that Ghana will not backslide on its record as a nation that protects human rights.

    “… I think it will serve little purpose to go, at this stage, into the details of the origin of this proposed law, which is yet to reach my desk. But, suffice it to say, that I have learnt that, today, a challenge has been mounted at the Supreme Court by a concerned citizen to the constitutionality of the proposed legislation,” he said.

    2024 suits on Anti-gay Bill

    There have been a number of legal actions on the Anti-gay bill with at least two of the suits seeking to injunct the assent of the bill into law and one other seeking to force the president to make a decision on the bill.

    Days after Akufo-Addo’s indication that he would take action on the bill after the court resolves the injunction application against it, the private citizen, renowned Ghanaian journalist, Richard Dela Sky, announced that he has sued President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and Speaker of ParliamentAlban Bagbin over the bill.

    The motion filed by Richard Sky outlines several reliefs, each grounded in constitutional provisions and fundamental rights. Among the reliefs sought are declarations that the passage of the bill by parliament contravened various articles of the constitution, rendering it null, void, and of no effect.

    One of the most significant aspects of the motion is the request for an injunction restraining the Speaker of Parliament and the Clerk of Parliament from presenting the bill to the President for assent. Furthermore, the motion seeks to prevent the president from assenting to the bill, citing concerns over its potential impacts on individual freedoms and rights.

    Following the confirmation of the suit, the Office of the President has written to Parliament to warn it against transmitting the Anti-gay bill to the president.

    The Member of Parliament (MP) for South Dayi, Rockson-Nelson Dafeamakpor, has also filed a mandamus application at the High Court in Accra, to force President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to state whether he would assent to the bill or not within the constitutionally mandated 7 days. The high court has started hearing the MP’s suit.

    There has, however, been no word from the Supreme Court, on the injunction filed by Richard Dela Sky against the Anti-gay bill which has led to various conspiracy theories among the public.

    Possible reasons the Supreme Court has not heard Richard Sky’s injunction against the Anti-gay Bill:

    A section of the public, including the National Democratic Congress, is accusing the apex court of the land of deliberately delaying the hearing of the injunction.

    “It’s quite apparent that this is a ploy by the Chief Justice to fast-track the determination of the suit filed by Hon. Rockson Dafeamekpor, while the determination of the Richard Dela Sky suit is deliberately and unduly delayed, to enable the President to shelve the crucial Sexual Rights and Family Values Bill that has been passed by Parliament,” the NDC said.

    However, the ruling of the court in the Dr Odoi case probably gives an indication as to why the court has not issued any action on the Richard Sky suit yet.

    Chief Justice Gertrude Torkornoo while reading the judgement of the Supreme Court is reported to have indicated that there is a ‘substantive matter’ before the court on the bill.

    Maybe the judgement on the ‘substantive matter’ would put to bed issues concerning the Anti-gay bill, including the injunctions against it.

    Source: www.ghanaweb.com

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