Art & LifeSocietyGhana's President linked to homosexuality following appointment


Posted on Tuesday, 05 February 2013 12:37

Ghana's President linked to homosexuality following appointment

President John Dramani Mahama of Ghana/Photo©ReutersGhanaian President John Dramani Mahama's appointment of a gay rights advocate in his government continues to generate outcries, as some have linked the president to homosexuality.

Days prior to her vetting, there was nationwide criticism of the nomination of Nana Oye Lithur, a human rights activist, who is known for defending the rights of homosexuals in the country.

Religious groups have also joined the fray, saying Ghana's cultural norm and laws frown on homosexuality.

Amidst the controversy over her nomination, there are allegations circulated widely in the media that the president's choice might be explained by his association with Andrew Solomon, a critically acclaimed international New york and London-based writer and gay rights advocate.

Last week at a press conference, Information Minister, Mahama Ayariga denied the existence of a relationship between President Mahama and the award-winning author, who played an important role in the launch of the former's book, "My First Coup d'état", in the United States.

The minister, few days later, came out to say "in keeping with my commitment to provide accurate and reliable information about [the] government and the presidency to the public, let me affirm that our then vice president (Mahama) had a prior meeting with Andrew Solomon in furtherance of the former's book writing project before the book launch event at which Solomon acted as a moderator".

On Monday the Information Ministry issued a formal statement restating its position that the president does not subscribe to homosexuality and would not take any step to promote it in Ghana.

He said Solomon's relationship with Mahama began when the president was still the vice president and was only in furtherance of the book project, which was acknowledged in the book itself.

It said Mahama created the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, to which Nana Lithur has been appointed to head, was created to coordinate and implement social intervention programmes aimed as safety nets for the poor and vulnerable in the society.

The statement said her appointment was based purely on her competence and experience.

"Nana Oye Lithur, in her work as a lawyer and with the Commonwealth Human Rights Institute (CHRI), has vast expertise in working with this segment of our society," the statement said.

Despite resistance to her appointment, Ghana's parliament last Friday approved the nomination. The Appointment Committee of Parliament in its report says the approval was by consensus.

Nana Oye Lithur, at her vetting, told the committee that she would not promote the practice of homosexuality in Ghana but did not hesitate to add that so long as Chapter 5 of country's constitution guarantees the fundamental human rights of all, as a lawyer, it enjoins her to be fair to all manner of people.

The moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, Right Reverend Professor Emmanuel Martey, the lead critic from the religious circle, described her as a "coward", saying "She should have come out boldly".

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