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VATICAN CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - Pope Francis has invited a leading Pentecostal self-styled apostle and televangelist who supports the criminalization of homosexuality to participate in the forthcoming Synod on Synodality.
Professor Opoku Onyinah, who backs the anti-LGBT bill unanimously passed by the Parliament of Ghana in July, will be permitted to join in the synodal discussions as a "fraternal delegate," but he will not be allowed to vote.
The bill, titled "Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values," prescribes jail sentences of up to 10 years for LGBT advocacy. Anyone identifying as an LGBT person or who has a gay relationship or intercourse could face five years in prison.
In Ghana, marrying someone who has had gender reassignment surgery is criminalized with up to five years in prison, as is "intentional cross-dressing" intended to portray a gender different from one's biological gender.
Pope Francis, an outspoken opponent of the criminalization of homosexuality, slammed anti-LGBT legislation during a flight while returning from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan in February.
"This is not right. Persons with homosexual tendencies are children of God. God loves them. God accompanies them ... condemning a person like this is a sin. Criminalizing people with homosexual tendencies is an injustice," Francis said, in response to a reporter's question.
In contrast to Pope Francis, Onyinah, the former chairman of Ghana's Church of Pentecost, said he "100%" supported his country's criminalization of homosexuality.
"We realized that there is something evil about it [homosexuality]. We should not promote it," the Ghanaian televangelist told Asaase Radio. "Having read through [the bill], I think it is very good, [and] they can go through — if there are some things they want to add, they can add, as they do with every bill."
Onyinah has been one of the leading voices urging Ghana's parliament to pass a law categorically stating the West African nation's position on homosexual acts.
"We wish, however, to put this forward; we advocate that Ghana's stand on the LGBTQI+ will be legislated clearly, without any ambiguity," he stated in March 2021 at an ecumenical prayer rally on the theme "Homosexuality: A Detestable Sin to God."
"The actions of the LGBTQI+ movement are also completely at variance with the laws and principles of the Almighty God, especially concerning His plan of creation and the sanctity of marriage between man and woman," Onyinah preached.
"There is enough evidence to show that the activities of the LGBTQI+ movement have impacted negatively on many youths in countries where they operate," Onyinah said. "The lives of the youths, who are future leaders of those countries, are being destroyed."
Referencing the Gay Lesbian Medical Association website, Dr. Onyinah warned that active homosexuals were at high risk of contracting AIDS, papilloma, gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, certain cancers, suffering from depression and could end up as victims of alcohol abuse, tobacco abuse and eating disorders.
When former British Prime Minister Theresa May expressed regret for Britain's colonial anti-LGBT laws, Dr. Onyinah hit back, saying homosexuality is "against our culture, a taboo in Ghana, a taboo in Christianity, a taboo to Muslims, a taboo to traditional religions."
"Why, then, should you tell us to do something that is taboo to all our social sectors? It's an insult," quipped the Pentecostal leader, who holds a doctorate in theology from Birmingham University and a Master's in Applied Theology from Manchester University.
Pope Francis and top Ghanaian Cdl. Peter Turkson have maintained a diplomatic silence as Ghanaian bishops endorsed government legislation to criminalize LGBT advocacy in Oct. 2021, Church Militant reported.
Ghana's Catholic bishops insisted they wanted "this abominable practice made illegal in our country" as "the Bible, which is foundational to Christian beliefs and practices, condemns the practice."
"Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered towards an intrinsic moral evil, and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder," the bishops stated.
The working document for the continental phase of the Synod on Synodality, emphasizes a "demand for welcome" for "those who, for various reasons, feel a tension between belonging to the Church and their own loving relationships, such as remarried divorcees, single parents, people living in a polygamous marriage, LGBTQ people, etc."
Church Militant asked Dr. Onyinah how he would respond to discussions on homosexuality during the synodal meetings, especially since numerous reports maintain that members of the Synod on Synodality are seeking to change the position of the Catholic Church on this matter.
Church Militant also asked the Holy See Press Office to comment on Dr. Onyinah's participation in the forthcoming Synod of Bishops.
Neither Dr. Onyinah nor the Holy See Press Office responded as of press time.
In May, Uganda's president, Yoweri Museveni, signed one of the world's toughest anti-LGBT laws, which spelled out the death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality."