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HeadlineTourism sector at risk due to anti-LGBTQ bill - Egyapa Mercer

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Tourism sector at risk due to anti-LGBTQ bill – Egyapa Mercer

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Minister-designate for Tourism, Andrew Kofi Egyapa Mercer, has expressed concerns regarding the potential impact of the Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill (Anti-LGBTQ Bill) on tourism in Ghana if it is assented to.

During his appearance before Parliament’s vetting committee on Tuesday, March 5, Mr. Mercer emphasized that while Ghana possesses a distinctive cultural identity, the passage of the bill could dissuade certain individuals from visiting the country, thereby affecting tourism.

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However, he suggested that promoting domestic tourism could help mitigate any potential decline in international tourist arrivals. By encouraging citizens to explore their own country, domestic tourism initiatives could help offset any negative effects on the tourism sector.

“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.

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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.”

The Minister-designate for Tourism emphasized the importance of effectively marketing Ghana to both its citizens and foreign tourists to sustain growth in the tourism sector.

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“….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.

Parliament passed the Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill on Wednesday, February 28. The bill criminalizes LGBTQ sexual acts and the promotion of LGBTQ rights, with offenders facing imprisonment.

While some members of the public support the bill, others, including the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), have raised concerns about its potential to infringe on people’s rights and freedoms as guaranteed in the constitution.

However, Member of Parliament for Ningo-Prampram, Sam George, insists that no part of the bill violates the laws outlined in the 1992 constitution.

The Finance Ministry has advised President Akufo-Addo against signing the bill, citing concerns that Ghana could lose over $3 billion in World Bank funding for various programs and projects.

In response, President Akufo-Addo reassured the international community of Ghana’s commitment to upholding human rights despite the passage of the bill. He emphasized Ghana’s long-standing reputation for respecting human rights and adherence to the rule of law.

President Akufo-Addo clarified that the bill is currently facing a legal challenge at the Supreme Court. Therefore, his government will not take any action on the bill until a decision is made by the court.

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