Vice president Kamala Harris backs Africa’s LGBTQ+ community in Ghana: ‘It’s a human rights issue’
US Vice President Kamala Harris has spoken out in support of LGBTQ+ people in Africa, following the introduction of a devastating new law in Uganda that bans queer identities entirely.
The 49th vice president of the US made her stance clear on Monday (27 March) during a press conference in Ghana.
Standing alongside Ghana’s president, Nana Akufo-Addo, Harris said she felt “very strongly” about supporting the development of LGBTQ+ rights in Africa.
“I will also say that this is an issue that we consider and I consider to be a human rights issue and that will not change,” she continued.
On 21 March, the East African nation of Uganda passed a draconian bill criminalising people who publicly identifying as LGBTQ+ after a short-lived debate by lawmakers.
Crowds of homophobic politicians applauded the passing of the law, which could see LGBTQ+ people face up to 20 years in jail. Furthermore, if they are found guilty of “aggravated homosexuality”, the death penalty could be invoked.
“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,” Harris added.
“I feel very strongly about supporting freedom and supporting and fighting for the equality of all people.“
Elsewhere in the press session, President Akufo-Addo mentioned that a proposed anti-LGBTQ+ bill was currently making its way through the Ghanaian parliament, but that it “hasn’t been passed”.
“The attorney general has found it necessary to speak to the committee about it regarding the constitutionality or otherwise several of its provisions,” he said.
“At the end of the process, I will come in, but in the meantime, the parliament is dealing with it.”
Currently, provisions in Ghana’s criminal code consider “unnatural carnal knowledge” to be a misdemeanour, punishable by up to three years in prison.
Vice-President Harris began her seven-day tour in the West African nation, saying that she aims to strengthen partnerships across the continent.
During the conference, she also announced a $100 million fund aiming to tackle extremism in Ghana, Benin, Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire and Togo.
After her trip to Ghana, she will head to Tanzania and Zambia where similar efforts to improve relations will begin.