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NewsAnti-LGBTQ+ bill poses threat to Ghana's tourism - Egyapa Mercer

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Anti-LGBTQ+ bill poses threat to Ghana’s tourism – Egyapa Mercer

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The designated Minister of Tourism, Andrew Kofi Egyapa Mercer, has expressed concerns about the potential impact of the Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill (Anti-LGBTQ Bill) on Ghana’s tourism industry if it receives presidential assent.

During his appearance before Parliament’s vetting committee on March 5, Mr. Mercer pointed out that the enactment of the bill, while reflective of Ghana’s cultural identity, could dissuade certain individuals from visiting the country, thereby affecting tourism.

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However, he suggested that promoting domestic tourism, encouraging citizens to explore their own country, could help mitigate any decline in international tourist arrivals.

Mr Mercer emphasized the importance of effectively marketing Ghana to both its citizens and foreign tourists to sustain tourism growth.

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“I mean our culture is our culture, ultimately. And so if people want to experience our culture, it really matters whether we are opposed to a certain lifestyle within our cultural setting. But it all comes down to how you promote Ghana and position ourselves within the law, that is if the President assents to it,” he said.

While acknowledging the potential impact of the bill on tourism, Mercer highlighted the need to carefully promote Ghana and position the country within the legal framework, particularly if the President approves the bill.

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He noted that individuals with diverse opinions on lifestyle choices might find Ghana either attractive or unattractive based on the cultural setting.

“I mean our culture is our culture, ultimately. And so if people want to experience our culture, it really matters whether we are opposed to a certain lifestyle within our cultural setting. But it all comes down to how you promote Ghana and position ourselves within the law, that is if the President assents to it,” he said.

Mr Mercer added “All I can say is that it definitely will have an impact one way or the other. Some people who believe that lifestyle should be allowed everywhere may find Ghana unattractive. Some people who believe in our culture would find Ghana an attractive place.”

“….We are encouraging people to visit our country as opposed to others. If you promote domestic tourism, that will then help us to deal with whatever shortfalls or issues that may arise from some lack of interest because of this law,” Mr Mercer added.

The Tourism Minister-designate underscored the significance of marketing efforts in encouraging people to visit Ghana, addressing any potential issues arising from the bill.

He expressed optimism that promoting domestic tourism could help overcome challenges posed by a potential decrease in interest due to the new law.

The Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill was passed by Parliament on February 28, criminalizing LGBTQ sexual acts and advocating penalties for those promoting non-conventional sexual or gender identities.

Despite public support for the bill, concerns have been raised by entities such as CHRAJ, citing potential discrimination against individuals and infringement on constitutional freedoms. The Finance Ministry has advised President Akufo-Addo against signing the bill, citing potential financial challenges, including the loss of funding from the World Bank.

In response, President Akufo-Addo reassured the international community of Ghana’s commitment to upholding human rights. He noted that the bill is facing legal challenges at the Supreme Court, and until a decision is reached, no action will be taken by the government on the private Member’s bill.

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