A government minister in Ghana has denounced one of the country’s leading newspapers for claiming that she supported gay rights.

Deputy Minister of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, Dzifa Abla Gomashie, attacked Ghana’s Daily Guide for suggesting in an article published on 19 December that she approved of gay rights.

The day before in a speech to anti-gay opponents, she had warned against violence towards gay people – but quickly tempered her remarks by adding: “We need to orientate homosexuals if we are not in favor of the act so that they can change for the better in a peaceful manner.”

She also referred to gay people as having “abnormalities”.

In a rebuttal to The Daily Guide, Ms Abla Gomashie wrote:-

I have read your paper’s coverage of the ceremony at which I had the singular honour to inaugurate the Coalition for Proper Sexual and Family Values on Wednesday 18th December, 2013 and I am still struggling to appreciate the interpretation your reporter put on my address.

Ordinarily, that is, if this reportage had appeared in some other private newspaper, I would have let it pass. The Daily Guide, however, is not just another paper: I am aware of the high standards of journalism which you have an enviable reputation of upholding. It is for this very reason that your publication on 19th December, 2013, MINISTER OKAYS GAY RIGHTS, comes as a shock to me.

By no stretch of the rules of literary interpretation can anybody who listened to me on that day conclude that I endorsed homosexuality. As a long time cultural advocate, as a cultural practitioner of no few years’ standing, as a person raised in the Catholic tradition – I am still unapologetically Catholic – and by the grace of God, as the Deputy Minister responsible for Culture, I should be the last person to endorse homosexuality. It would amount to denying myself, my culture and religion; it would be totally out of character and against the very principles I stand for.

Those who listened to me will recall the emphasis I placed on the fact that (homosexuality) “has no foundation in our culture”; that it goes against the grain of all the major religions in the world.

Having laid this foundation, I went on to plead with society to undergo a re-orientation with regard to how we relate with homosexuals. My point was (and still is) that the gays and lesbians need our understanding and more importantly our sympathy – not our condemnation – if we are to succeed in reaching out to them.

The launch was not a debate. It was the inauguration of a coalition against homosexuality and I could not have spoken contrary to the stand of the organizers.