Update: Liberia Pledges to Defend Gays From Attack
Last week I reported on how a campaign had been launched in the West African country of Liberia to kill gay people and their supporters.
Leaflets said that “those involved in promoting gay rights should not be given space to get a gulp of air.”
This followed a pattern seen in Uganda with, first, the introduction of legislation making homosexuality a first degree felony, potentially a death sentence, and then violence directed at those speaking up for gays in the media.
Last month, the Nobel Peace Prize winning President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, refused to support those gay Liberians under sustained assault. The government later qualified her comments, saying she would veto proposed anti-gay legislation.
The reality is that the status quo in Liberia has been one of tolerance and no one has ever been prosecuted under that law,” they claimed, referring to existing sodomy legislation.
The president also thinks that with the unprecedented freedom of speech and expression Liberia enjoys today, our budding democracy will be strong enough to accommodate new ideas and debate both their value and Liberia’s laws with openness, respect and independence.
Following the distribution of leaflets naming and threatening to kill anyone supporting gay rights, the government has finally spoken out. It says:
“Supports the rights of any of its citizens to hold dear their traditional values, it will neither countenance nor condone any form of intolerance whose objective is to stifle the exercise of individual freedoms and the advance of civil liberties.”
“Accordingly, the relevant security agencies have been instructed to seriously investigate these threats and to swiftly arrest and prosecute anyone who threatens ‘to go after’ gays and their supporters,” a statement from the Information Ministry warned.
Nigerian gay groups are helping Liberia’s gay community and have just run a three-day workshop on security.
Photo credit: Wikipedia