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Richard Dela Sky files suit at Supreme Court seeking to declare “Anti-LGBTQI+ Bill” unconstitutional

The media personality and lawyer in private practice Richard Sky has filed a suit at the Supreme Court essentially to challenge the constitutionality of the Human Sexual Rights and Family Values Bill (commonly known as the “Anti-LGBTQI+ Bill”), passed by the eighth parliament of the Fourth Republic on Wednesday (28 February).

The applicant (Richard Sky), in his 23-paragraph affidavit in support of the application, argued that the Human Sexual Rights and Family Values Bill, as passed by Parliament, contravenes Articles 12, 15, 17, 18, 21, 33(5), 106 and 108 of the 1992 constitution of the Republic of Ghana.

Contention of applicant

Sky further contends that Parliament exceeded its authority in passing the bill, and, to that end, that the action of Parliament is null, void and of no effect. An assent to the bill by the president, Richard Sky says, will directly contravene the constitutional safeguards provided to ensure the liberties and rights of Ghanaians.

“It is also my case that during the voting session to pass the bill, ‘The Human Sexual Rights and Family Values Bill 2024’, the number of Parliament members present significantly failed to meet the constitutionally stipulated quorum contained in Article 104(1) of the 1992 constitution, which mandates that at least half of all members must be present,” the affidavit says.

“Although Parliament’s legislative authority is subject to the constitution, a material part of which is fundamental human rights contained in chapter five of the constitution, ‘The Human Sexual Rights and Family Values Bill 2024’ grossly violates relevant provisions in chapter five of the Constitution which I have outlined,” says Richard Sky in the affidavit deposed before the court.

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“In this circumstance, it is my prayer that this Honourable Court restrains the Speaker and the Clerk to Parliament from presenting to the president for his assent the bill ‘The Human Sexual Rights and Family Values Bill 2024’,” Sky further says in his affidavit in support of the application.

On the issue of whether or not the president should assent to the bill, the applicant argues that, should the president go ahead and sign the bill into law, the action “will undermine the rule of law, the constitution and the power of the judiciary in discharging its sacred duty of determining disputes and holding evenly the scales of justice between all persons in Ghana and institutions of state subject to the constitution once the court’s jurisdiction is properly invoked”.

Reliefs sought

The suit, filed on Monday (4 March 2024) at the registry of the Supreme Court and titled “Richard Sky and the Attorney General”, is seeking five reliefs from the highest court of the land.

First, he is seeking “an order that ‘The Human Sexual Rights and Family Values Bill 2024’ passed by Parliament on 28th February 2024 is in contravention of Articles 12, 15, 17, 18, 21, 33(5), 106 and 108 of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana and should be declared by this Honourable Court as null, void and of no effect”.

Second, Sky wants “a declaration that Parliament exceeded its authority in passing ‘The Human Sexual Rights and Family Values Bill 2024’ as the same imposes a charge upon the public purse”.

Third, he is praying the court for “a declaration that, upon a true and proper interpretation of Articles 102 and 104 of the constitution, Parliament lacked the requite quorum to pass ‘The Human Sexual Rights and Family Values Bill 2024’”.

Fourth, the application is asking for “an order restraining the president from assenting to ‘The Human Sexual Rights and Family Values Bill 2024’ as such action will directly contravene the constitutional safeguards of liberties and rights of Ghanaians”.

Lastly, he is praying the court for “an injunction barring any attempts to enforce the provisions of ‘The Human Sexual Rights and Family Values Bill 2024’, particularly those criminalising same-sex relationships and related advocacy efforts”.

No human rights slip

In a separate development, President Akufo-Addo has assured the diplomatic community in Ghana that despite the passage of the Human Sexual Rights and Family Values Bill by Parliament on Wednesday 28 February, Ghana will not let slip her enviable and long-standing record as a nation that respects the fundamental human rights of all people within her borders.

Addressing the diplomatic corps in Ghana at the annual “New Year Greeting” at Peduase Presidential Lodge in the Aburi Hills on Monday (4 March), President Akufo-Addo said he is aware of the difficulties that some of the country’s international partners have with the bill as passed by Parliament.

The president announced that a concerned citizen, since revealed to be Richard Sky, had invoked the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the bill. To this end, he called on everyone to hold their guns until the apex court pronounces judgment on the bill’s constitutionality or otherwise.

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“I am aware that last week’s bipartisan passage by the Parliament of the Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill, on a private member’s motion, has raised considerable anxieties in certain quarters of the diplomatic community and amongst some friends of Ghana that she may be turning her back on her hitherto enviable, long-standing record on human rights observance and attachment to the rule of law,” the president told the diplomats.

“I want to assure you that no such backsliding will be contemplated or occasioned. I think it will serve little purpose to go, at this stage, into the details of the origin of this proposed law, which is yet to reach my desk. But suffice it to say that I have learned that, today, a challenge has been mounted at the Supreme Court by a concerned citizen to the constitutionality of the proposed legislation,” President Akufo-Addo said.

“In the circumstances, it would be as well for all of us to hold our hands and await the decision of the court before any action is taken. The operation of the institutions of the Ghanaian state will determine the future trajectory of the rule of law and human rights compliance in our country,” President Akufo-Addo further said.

Source: Asaaseradio

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