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Liberian senate criminalizes homosexuality

By Ralph Geeplay 



If there is one thing that draws unanimous consensus in the West
African state of Liberia, it is that gays in the country will have no
place in the society to live their lives peacefully.
During a meeting with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair when they
both met in Monrovia a fortnight ago, President Sirleaf said, “we like the way
we are, we’ve got certain traditional values in our society that we would like 
to preserve."
The religious community too has not help things, and despises gays furiously.
 More so, the Liberian leader has issued statements that have not bore well 
for gays. Also leading the chorus to deny gays their rights in the senate 
is Charles Taylor’s estranged wife, Jewel Howard Taylor.
And so, the Liberian Senate on Tuesday this week went to work and amended the 
Domestic Relations Law by voting for an anti-gay legislation, which it hopes 
President Sirleaf will sign.
The question now is of all the pressing national issues in Liberia today, is this
the most important?
Liberian politics is so divisive today that finding any issue which Liberian 
politicians agree upon is like looking for needle in a haystack, but on gay 
issues the heads are nodding across the board.
Those comments coming from Sirleaf, a Nobel Laureate raised the bar, in what 
has been a pervasive anti-gay sentiment in post war Liberia.
Touted as an inspiration to women who are suffering persecution at the hands 
of powerful men, President Sirleaf’s statement did not help matters but hurt any
genuine attempt to fight bigotry and sexual violence in Liberia.
In a post-war country where violence against women and children are prevalent, 
and where security conditions overall remains a daunting challenge, is criminalizing
homosexuality a major national issue that should occupy the president’s and 
lawmaker’s attention?
Instead of criminalizing homosexuality in the country, why not the Liberian Senate 
criminalizes female genital mutilation (FGM), which poses an even greater risk to
society and young girls? It is hard to imagine any educated consenting adult, female
or otherwise who would want to have a vital part of their sex organ taken away 
voluntarily, knowing the implications the practice would have on their health, 
wellness and their happiness.
Montserrado County Superintendent Grace Kpaan, who against the inhumane and illegal
practice of female genital mutilation said recently, “I believe it is evil, 
because there are times that little children even die in the bushes; seven, eight
and nine year olds.” This also prompted the Honorable Liberian Senate and House 
to demand that she apologize for deriding Liberian culture, as if Liberian culture
can be legislated.
It is discriminatory to penalize a section of the population because of their 
beliefs. Gays and lesbians are consenting adults. They have a right to choice.
Writing in the HuffingtonPost in March of this year, Stephanie Horton and 
Cary Alan Johnson added: “Currently,under Liberian penal law, "voluntary sodomy" is
a first-degree misdemeanor.
While African nations such as the Republic of South Africa, Mauritius, and 
Mozambique have either repealed or read down similar, outdated, colonial sodomy 
laws, some in Liberia would move backward and increase criminalization and 
penalties.”
President Sirleaf must be true to her words and MUST NOT sign any bill emanating 
from the Liberian Assembly that seeks to criminalize same sex marriage.
Liberia has way too many problems that need attention; gays and lesbians issues are 
none of them.
Ralph Geeplay can be reached at akklamm@gmail.com

 

 

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