LGBTQI+ debate can encourage or discourage the practice – Psychologist

Accra, Oct. 13, GNA - Reverend Albright Asiwome Banibensu, the Vice President of the Ghana Psychological Association, says the debates over the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) practices in the country can either encourage or discourage the act.

He said discussions and comments from prominent persons such as lawyers, academics, and religious leaders could encourage more of the act or make it difficult for those involved to come out boldly to declare their stance over it.

“It is not impossible for people to learn from these as a result of the debates going on because it serves as a form of education that enables them to make a decision. People listening to them develop their own concepts about it, either a positive or negative one.

“Whatever happens to a person becomes a point of learning for the person and another person. For instance, if a child makes noise in class and a teacher doesn’t say anything, that child and other children in the class feel it is normal to make noise in class and will be encouraged to keep doing it,” he noted.

Rev. Banibensu who was speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, said people learned the behaviour of others by observing and imitating them, saying, “Everyone has a way of perceiving something.

Some of the LGBTQI may say oh these people are advocating for us, so we are excited and confident now. Another will say, with how things are going in society coupled with criticisms, it has made my sexual orientation more burdensome for me, let me stop it.”

He said it was true that LGBTQI persons stood at risk of mental health challenges such as bipolar, anxiety, and depression due to how people perceived the practice and related to them.

“By the nature of what they do and how people see it, that could have additional risk on their health. Most of those who go through hormonal therapy to change their sex to the other also go through a lot and the process itself could bring them depression.

“We have cases where a number of them changed their sex, got depressed, changed back to another sex, and got depressed. So it is possible they could have additional mental health problems as a result of their sexual orientation,” he added.

Rev. Banibensu said a global debate was ongoing within the therapeutic community over if psychologists could help to address the mental health concerns of LGBTQI concerns.

“However, it depends on what the person is looking for. So if somebody comes around to say I am not comfortable with this kind of choice I have made and I need you to help me overcome it, definitely, the person is ready for help and can be helped just like any other person who is coming for psychological support,” he said.

The Vice President advised the public to pay special attention to their mental health and prioritise their health.

“Everybody needs to take good care of his or her mental health. So whatever affects your mental health negatively, you need to think of it and seek help to navigate it if you are not able to do it for yourself,” he said.

A bill is before Parliament seeking to criminalise and impose jail terms on lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders and queers (LGBTQ ) and people who promote such activities in the country.

A group made up of academics, lawyers, researchers, civil society organisations (CSOs) and human rights activists is kicking against the bill, sparking debates.