A nominee to Ghana’s cabinet has run into strong opposition after some of the country’s clergy opposed her on account of her support for gay rights.
President John Mahama has put forward Ms Nana Oye Lithur as his choice as the the minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, a newly-created ministry.
But the Concerned Clergy Association of Ghana (CCAG says it is against Nana Lithur, who is also the executive director of the Accra-based Human Rights Advocacy Centre, because she is a “proponent and supporter of gay rights”.
The group added that her appointment could be “detrimental to the interests of Ghana, particularly at a time foreign aid to African nations is closely linked to the receiving country’s official stance on homosexuality”.
Nana Lithur is in the list of ministerial nominees released by President Mahama last week and who are yet to be vetted by a parliamentary committee.
She is a known defender of the rights of homosexuals and was last year supported gays and lesbians group who were attacked by unidentified persons at James Town, an Accra suburb.
The clergy grouping also says it is uncomfortable with the appointment of Dr Raymond Atuguba as executive secretary to the President due to his liberal views on homosexuality.
CCAG spokesman Bishop Prince Benny Wood, said Dr Atuguba, who was the chairman of the Constitutional Review Commission, failed to make any recommendations to the President on the subject of homosexuality despite the fact that 98 per cent of the submissions the Commission received on the topic opposed it.
Before the group came out against her appointment, Nana Lithur told an Accra radio that she would not disappoint Ghanaians in her new role.
“I will work very hard to make sure that the people of Ghana and the people within my mandate are able to access the services and enjoy the benefits and facilities they are supposed to enjoy as Ghanaians,” she said.
But an Accra anti-gay activist, Mr Philip Quaye, told the Africa Review that “we must be careful the kind of people we put in positions of trust. There is a strong gay lobby going round the world and it is this so called human rights activists who help them push the foreign agenda. What we want to see in Ghana is the preservation of our culture.”
Mr Quaye recalled that two years ago Nana Lithur had said that “not even the President of Ghana can deny anybody’s 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. ”
“Therefore, creating a new ministry for gender, children and social protection for this lady is to give her the blank cheque to put into practice all her beliefs. She is just going to change the face of Ghanaian culture and she must not be allowed to do so,” he added.
Nana Lithur has been very vocal with the national lobby to fight for the Freedom of Information Bill. She has also been involved with access to Justice Programme and has organised several human rights clinics all over the country.
Her close associates describe Mr Quaye’s picture of Nana Lithur as “very offensive” because for the past 20 years that she has been at the Bar, all she has done is to campaign against human right abuses.
“She must be praised for ensuring that every Ghanaian no matter what does not get abused in any form,” said Miss Gifty Abraham, an Accra social activist.