The action of the General Legal Council, GLC in the case of Madam Elorm Ababio who goes by Ama Governor on social media has set social media ablaze with scores, in no uncertain terms, giving their takes on what appears to be a war to save morality with “culture” as the yardstick, all the while, brushing aside the elephant in the room; the law.
The GLC, well within its rights and fully backed by law, suspended temporarily, the calling to the bar of Ama Governor, pending investigations into a complaint filed by one Hajia Siduri. The complainant alleges Ama’s publications on social media including openly advocating for the LGBTQI community, breach the Code of Conduct for students of the Ghana School of Law and thus amount to her lack of “good standing” which is required to becoming a lawyer in Ghana.
Section 3 of the LEGAL PROFESSION ACT, of 1960 (ACT 32) has provisions on this matter:
“S.3 – Qualifications For Enrollment
(1) A person is qualified for enrolment if that person satisfies the Council in respect of
(a) good character, and
(b) the holding of a qualifying certificate granted under section 13 by the Council.”
The Law further states in Section 3(2) as follows:
“(2) A person may be enrolled by the Council if the Council is satisfied
(a) as to the good character of that person,…”
The fervency with which commenters reacted to this decision either in support or other wise of the GLC is typical of public commentary when it comes to issues related to sexuality and the LGBTQI community. Most would rather turn a blind eye as though varying sexual orientations don’t exist. Well, they do and are entitled to the same freedoms as everyone else.
Culture and sexuality have been at war since the beginning of time. Never mind “regular canal knowledge” much less the “irregular” or as most cultural warriors fear, “the unknown”. The word culture has been thrown around to suppress sexuality or how people express their individual sexuality. The law against “unnatural canal knowledge” under section 104(2) of Act 29 of the Criminal Code 1960, just nips it in the bud and births the old conundrum surrounding the limits to one’s freedoms in Ghana.
The issue of “good standing” , as abstract and discretionary as it may be, is the main amour of the cultural warriors who comfortably overlook the law of the land which may, at this time, actually be in their favour, and lay out their cultural norms argument as though culture is set in stone.
Culture in itself is ambiguously defined as the way of life of a people, conveniently overlooked when one finds him or her self in the majority, add a slice of religion and there, its law! It is only when one finds him/herself in the minority with regard to a certain cultural norm, that it becomes problematic. It has infamously become “the word” that one throws around for cover if anyone dares challenge their fears or insecurities.
The recent ban on noise making and total blackout in Tema to allow for Ga cultural rites to be performed caused an uproar on social media with several keyboard warriors voicing their displeasure and with some even going ahead to ridicule the practice. Off course they garnered a lot of support with only a few brave persons to express contrary views. Similar practices occur, for example in Ashanti. But again, the majority favours the practice in that jurisdiction, so they carry the day.
The ambiguity of culture allows room for evolution. I would like to think that in this age, other people will not have to die just to satisfy a cultural requirement of burying a dead king with actual human heads! The dark ages are called so for a reason. Culture does not have to die, it should continuously evolve. That’s just its nature.
If corruption and infidelity are easily part of our culture today, then frankly, culture can be anything as far as the majority accepts it! It is as fleeting as time itself!
In this case of Ama governor, culture as the rule of thumb has failed. It is devoid of fact or even relevance, just by its nature. Culture is not a constant and as such cannot be the yardstick for judgement of “good standing”. It is open to debate though, but should not be touted as fact since it is up to one’s discretion.
The GLC is justified in its actions and was right to put a temporary injunction on her call to the bar to consider the petition of the complainant. The law requires the council does so. The murky bit is the issue of “good standing”. Who determines that and how? The determination of her standing, to be deemed objective, has to throw out the “culture” argument. It is neither here nor there.
The cultural warriors are having a field day, inching to make a scapegoat of Ama Governor but caution must be taken in order not to set an unhealthy precedent which will defeat the position of the cultural police completely by calling many closeted LGBTQI persons to the bar! Would you rather they lied about their sexuality to preserve your “culture”? Isn’t that in itself, against your culture?
Let the law firms decide which kinds of lawyers they wish to hire. That should not be the preserve of what is deemed culturally upright or otherwise.
By Nancy Vukania, broadcast journalist
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