Ace Ankomah: Of homosexual act and Ghana’s criminal law

Ace Ankomah: Of homosexual act and Ghana’s criminal law

I was going to write a long article on this. But I won’t. M’abr3. I will state my views on what I think the law says, simply and bluntly. I expect some to disagree, but at least then we would be having an informed debate, hopefully.

1. Ghana law doesn’t criminalise ALL the wide range of acts that could be termed “homosexual.”

2. In general, the term “homosexual acts” applies to all bodily contact between persons of the same sex that is aimed at producing sexual gratification.

4. The only relevant act that our law criminalises is “unnatural carnal knowledge,” which only occurs when there has been “the least degree of penetration.”

5. And so let’s be blunt. That refers to SODOMY, i.e. PENILE penetration of the ANUS, as distinguished from the VAGINA in “carnal knowledge” simpliciter.

6. By analogy, in Republic v. Atiso & Gligah, the Supreme Court held WRT “carnal knowledge” simpliciter, that “least degree of penetration” means anything that goes beyond what is generally referred to as “brushing.” I will leave the relevant “unnatural” equivalent to your fertile imagination.

7. Thus any sexual act that either does not involve or stops short of penetration is NOT a crime in Ghana.

8. That is why lesbianism is not a crime, as is the case of every non-penile/non-penetrative homosexual act.

9. By the way, non-homosexual anal penetration (ie performed by men on women, whether consenting or not) is just as criminal as homosexual anal penetration.

Note that in this, I haven’t referred to “right” or “wrong.” I am just trying to present a picture of what I read from our criminal law.

Now let a news website reproduce this with the usual deliberately wrong and misleading headline, which will then shape the non-debate.

Kindly find it in your heart to pardon my typos.


This article was first published in November 2017 when the issue became topical in the country.

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