On Sept 1, 2017 The Winnipeg Free Press reported: OTTAWA — A gay MP who recently travelled to Ghana said he’s hoping to meet the Winnipeg LGBTTQ* refugees pushing for human rights in their home country.
“I’m looking forward to meeting them,” Rob Oliphant said in an interview Friday, a day after returning from West Africa. “I think I now have a good sense of the country that they’re coming from.”
As co-chair of the Canada-Africa Parliamentary Association, the Liberal MP was among six parliamentarians who spoke with government officials, activists and civil society groups in both Ghana and Gambia.
Oliphant’s visit came as eight Ghanaians living in Winnipeg made headlines back home. Clad in pink shirts, they collected more than 5,200 signatures at Folklorama, calling on Canada to push Ghana to protect LGBTTQ* people. Specifically, the group wants Ghana to repeal Section 104 of its criminal code outlawing “Unnatural Carnal Knowledge” which makes same-sex activity a serious crime punishable by up to 25 years in prison.
All eight crossed near Emerson, making an illegal entry to Canada in order to claim asylum, which shields them from prosecution. Some of the group have secured refugee status, while others are waiting for their asylum hearing.
Oliphant heard about the group while on the ground in Ghana. Last week, a Ghanaian politician accused them of trying undermine societal values, and even the country’s constitution.
John Ntim Fordjour, a Ghanian MP who is a pastor, reportedly told a television show: “There is no culture, there is no tribe, there is no religion in whose doctrines glorify homosexuality, lesbianism and bestiality.
” But Oliphant is a United Church minister. “I’m not sure we glorify homosexuality, but we certainly accept it as part of nature and part of our reality,” said Oliphant, who plans to reach out to Fordjour.
“I want to make friends with people and help them perhaps see a different way of looking at the world.”