The Ghanaian Justice Minister-designate Marietta Appiah Oppong has stated categorically that she believes Ghana’s constitution does not protect the rights of gay people to have legal same-sex relations.

While being vetted for the role of Justice Minister on Thursday Ms Oppong said that “unnatural carnal knowledge is a criminal offence” in Ghanaian law, and said that people who believe that the constitution would protect gay rights would have to take the matter to the Supreme Court.

Prompted for her personal views on homosexuality she added: “I disapprove of it.”

Ms Oppong’s words are a stark contrast to statements made by the Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection-designate, Nana Oye Lithur, who caused controversy last week by asserting her belief that gay people have rights under Ghanaian law. Ms Lithur went on to clarify that she did not want to promote homosexuality.

Lawyer John Ndebugri has argued that the law is not as thorough as Ms Oppong has argued. Section 104 of the Criminal Offences Act does deal with “unnatural carnal knowledge”, but he says that case law has established that sexual intercourse can only take place between heterosexual couples.

The Ghanaian President himself is said to oppose gay rights.

According to a statement made earlier this month by Information Minister Mahama Ayariga: “The President is to execute the laws of Ghana. And the laws of Ghana are very clear on homosexuality. The laws of Ghana appall and criminalise homosexuality. There is no dispute about that. Homosexual conduct which is unnatural canal knowledge of one person or another is criminal and punishable by the laws of Ghana.”