Ghana’s Cardinal Peter Turkson Calls for Understanding on Homosexuality

Soukaina Sghir
Soukaina Sghir
3 Min Read
Cardinal

Cardinal Peter Turkson, a prominent figure from Ghana, has stated that homosexuality should not be treated as a criminal offense, emphasizing the need for a greater understanding of the matter. His remarks come as the Ghanaian parliament discusses a bill proposing severe penalties for LGBT individuals. Cardinal Turkson’s stance differs from that of Roman Catholic bishops in Ghana, who have described homosexuality as “despicable.”

Last month, Pope Francis hinted at the possibility of the Catholic Church blessing same-sex couples, although he maintained that the Church viewed same-sex relationships as “objectively sinful” and would not recognize same-sex marriage.

In July, Ghanaian lawmakers supported measures in a proposed bill, still pending completion in parliament, that could lead to a three-year prison sentence for identifying as LGBT. Advocacy for LGBT rights could also result in up to 10 years of imprisonment. Homosexual acts are already illegal in Ghana, carrying a three-year prison term.

Cardinal Turkson, previously considered a potential future pope, expressed on the BBC’s HARDtalk program that “LGBT people may not be criminalized because they’ve committed no crime.” He stressed the importance of education to help people understand homosexuality and differentiate between criminal actions and personal identity.

Referring to cultural expressions in the Akan language, the cardinal noted phrases that suggest acknowledgment of non-binary gender roles within Ghanaian society. He cautioned against imposing anti-LGBT measures, attributing such efforts in Africa to external influences linking foreign donations and grants to specific positions.

Cardinal Turkson urged a respectful approach, stating, “Neither should this position also become something to be imposed on cultures which are not yet ready to accept stuff like that.” He highlighted the danger of tying foreign aid to cultural acceptance.

The cardinal’s remarks add to the ongoing global debate surrounding LGBT rights, with various African nations facing criticism for proposed or enacted anti-LGBT legislation. Uganda, for example, recently passed a law proposing life imprisonment and, in some cases, the death penalty for homosexuality-related offenses.

Cardinal Turkson, the first-ever Ghanaian cardinal appointed in 2003, currently serves as the chancellor of the Pontifical Academies of Sciences. His comments reflect a nuanced perspective within the Catholic Church on the issue of homosexuality.

Soukaina Sghir

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