16 January 2013

Ghana: The Clergy Association Goofed On Oye Lithur's Nomination


Just when her name came up for the position of minister designate for Gender, Children and Social Protection, a group calling itself concerned clergy association of Ghana came up with allegations that Nana Oye Lithur was in support of gays in this country.

The group further called on his Excellency, President John Mahama to halt her appointment because they claim as a supporter of gay rights it could be detrimental to the interest of Ghanaians.

This group of clergy is behaving as if they do not live in Ghana. To the best of my understanding, the minister designate was fighting for the rights of the suspected gays, and was not advocating that homosexuality should be practiced in this country.

If these men of God should have taken some time to go back into the archives to read or listen to what the nominee said at the time, they would have saved themselves this kind of embarrassment and unnecessary worry.

I recall that Oye Lithur in the year 2011, in an interview with Citi News, in response to former President Mills' statement that "I as President of this nation, will never initiate or support any attempt to legalise homosexuality in Ghana," said President Mills was entitled to his opinion, but underscored the need to also respect the human rights of minorities in society, such as gays.

"President Mills is entitled to his opinions and he is entitled to make statements for and on behalf of Ghanaians," she said. "We are guided by our 1992 Constitution that states that we are all be equal before the law and every person in Ghana possess human right. So if we have homosexuals in Ghana, once they are human beings, they have human rights."

According to her, human right advocates are not calling for same sex marriages to be legalized, but want Ghanaians to accord them the maximum respect.

"Nobody has asked for homosexuality to be legalised, from the law what we as human right advocates are saying is that once the person is a human being and resides in Ghana, we ask institutions to accord that person the respect as a human being."

She continued: "Not even the President of Ghana can deny anybody his or her human rights, irrespective of the person's sexual orientation, ethnic group, gender and what have you. These are guaranteed in our constitution and everybody in Ghana has an obligation to respect that constitution."

This clearly should have told the association that she was not advocating for same sex encounters but instead, for the protection of their rights.

Even when they are being told that the nominee did not say what they claim she said, they are still moving from one radio station to the other calling for the head of this innocent woman, who has been given the opportunity to serve.

Women are more than half of the country's population, but unfortunately when it comes to political appointments they are very few of them who are considered. What makes it worse is the constitutional provision which asks the President to appoint most of his ministers from parliament.

In my candid opinion, I think that the clergy association really goofed, they should have looked for something which is more sustainable than just to give the reasons assigned, because to the best of my knowledge they do not understand the nominee on her stance on the gay issue.

Madam nominee, I will entreat you to use the vetting committee sitting as a platform to once and for all clear the minds of like-minded people like the clergy association about your stance on the gay issue, because that question will definitely be asked by a member of that committee.

The association also may petition the vetting committee on this issue. In the event that they do accordingly, use this opportunity to set the records straight so that it does not become an issue to hang on your neck.

Women in Ghana must rise up to the occasion and advocate for more of us to be put in decision making positions. This is the only sure way we can advance our cause and take our rightful place in this country.

It is my hope and conviction that Nana Oye Lithur, by her demeanour, will give off her best to this country and make her new portfolio a very attractive one, as well as improve the lifestyle of the vulnerable.

She must discharge her duties in such a manner that the doubting Thomases will accept and acknowledge the fact that it was worth putting her in that position.

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