By Kirk Petersen

The House of Bishops of the Anglican Church in Ghana has endorsed the passage of a proposed law that would subject anyone who self-identifies as LGBTQ to a prison term of up to five years, according to reports in the Ghanaian news media.

“Advocating for LGBQ+ rights would also be illegal under the bill, with activists facing [between] five and 10 years of jail sentences,” the reports said. The penalties for self-identification and advocacy are as strong or stronger than the five years prescribed for consensual same-sex physical acts.

The Ghana News Agency reported that a statement advocating for the bill was signed by the Most Rev. Dr. Cyril Kobina Ben-Smith, metropolitan archbishop of the Internal Province of Ghana, which is part of the Anglican Province of West Africa.

“The support of the church for the Anti-LGBTQI Bill is borne out of the belief that the practice is unbiblical and ungodly,” the statement said. “We see LGBTQI as unrighteousness in the sight of God and therefore will do anything within our powers and mandate to ensure that the bill comes into fruition.”

“Leviticus 20:13 clearly declares that, a male lying with a fellow male is an abomination and punishable by death,” the statement said.

Despite calling for criminal penalties for LGBTQ identification and advocacy, “the church does not condemn persons of homosexuality tendencies but absolutely condemn the sinful acts and activities they perform,” the statement said, adding that LGBTQ supporters should not be harassed or subjected to violence, “but rather, see them as potential souls to be won for Christ.”

“We will gladly open our counselling and support centres for the needed transformation services required by these persons or groups,” the statement said.

The Telegraph of London reported that, according to some critics, the proposed law “could be the most draconian anti-LGBTQ legislation on earth.”

The Anglican Province of West Africa includes 11 dioceses in Ghana and six dioceses scattered across seven other countries: Cameroon, Cape Verde, Gambia, Guinea, Liberia, Senegal, and Sierra Leone. The Ghanaian dioceses are organized as the Internal Province of Ghana, which is seeking status as a full-fledged province of the Anglican Communion. Wikipedia, without citing a source, says “Today, there are over one million Anglicans out of an estimated population of 35 million in the countries that form the province.” An undated web page of the World Council of Churches lists a membership of 300,000, also not citing a source.