The parliament of Ghana rejected a proposal on Wednesday that would have substituted non-custodial sentences like counseling for jail terms for homosexual sex, bringing the bill that aims to restrict the rights of LGBT people further one step closer to being put to a vote.

Most lawmakers support the legislation, which a coalition of traditional leaders from Ghana, Islam, and Christianity has sponsored. Up to 10 years in prison would be imposed as a punishment for promoting the rights of people who identify as lesbian, gay, or with other non-conventional sexual orientations.

The bill would increase the maximum sentence for homosexual sex in the West African nation from three years to five years.

Following its rejection on Wednesday, lawmaker Alexander Afenyo-Markin of the ruling party withdrew his proposed amendment. He had contended that jailing individuals for crimes related to the LGBT community would "worsen homosexuality and its promotion," thereby undermining the original purpose of the bill. 

The bill, which is among the most severe in Africa, will now be adjusted before going to a vote in parliament. It would need the president's approval to take effect if approved. President Nana Akufo-Addo has not confirmed the bell's potential for ratification. 

The bill's supporters hope to pass it by March. In the LGBT community, which already endures violence and hatred, talk of the proposed bill has increased anxieties, according to activists.


 As the legislation gets closer to passing, the community is in a panic, according to a 27-year-old lesbian and LGBT activist who asked not to be identified and spoke to Reuters.  "We would now have to be extra careful with our way of life," she continued. 

The Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values, a proposed law, was criticized by the UN in 2021 for allegedly establishing "a system of state-sponsored discrimination and violence" against sexual minorities.

Uganda enacted one of the harshest anti-LGBT laws in the world in May 2023, which includes the death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality." According to activists, it sparked a wave of abuse, and the World Bank stopped giving the nation new funding.