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Ghana’s president says anti-LGBTQ bill has not reached his desk

AN anti-LGBTQ bill passed by Ghana’s parliament last week, which could derail international aid for the West African country if it becomes law according to an internal government memo, has not yet reached the desk of President Nana Akufo-Addo, he said on Monday.

In his first comments on the bill’s passage, he said Ghana would not backslide on its human rights record and added that the bill had been challenged in the Supreme Court.

“I have learnt that today, a challenge has been mounted at the Supreme Court,” Akufo-Addo said in a statement. “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,” he added.

The bill could lead to a loss of $3.8 billion in World Bank financing over the next five to six years if it becomes law, derailing a $3 billion IMF loan package, the finance ministry said in a document seen by Reuters earlier on Monday.

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Akufo-Addo would need to sign the bill for it to become law.

Lawmakers on Feb. 28 unanimously passed the legislation that will intensify a crackdown on the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and those accused of promoting LGBTQ identities.

The finance ministry document, dated March, said it summarised deliberations between the finance minister, central bank governor, head of the tax authority and other senior officials and contained recommendations for the president.

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The bill’s passage comes as Ghana seeks to emerge from a deep economic crisis and debt default with the help of an International Monetary Fund loan programme secured last year and financing from the World Bank.

The United States has said it is “deeply troubled” by the proposed legislation and urged a review of the “constitutionality of the bill.”

In the internal document, the finance ministry said the loss of World Bank financing would negatively impact foreign exchange reserves and exchange rate stability.

That would in turn “derail” the IMF programme, triggering a negative market reaction that would affect exchange rate stability, it added.

“A derailed IMF programme will have dire consequences on the debt restructuring exercise and Ghana’s long-term debt sustainability,” it said.

It also recommended “engagement with conservative countries, including the Arab countries and China,” to secure additional financing.

The World Bank said it was preparing a response. The IMF referred to its Friday statement in which it said it could not weigh in on the implications of a bill not yet signed into law.

The IMF also noted that internal IMF policies prohibited discrimination based on personal characteristics.

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By RACHEL SAVAGE

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