Liberian law currently classifies “voluntary sodomy” as a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and if President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf — a Noble prize winner — has her way, the country will maintain its anti-gay policies, despite the global community’s call for the decriminalization of homosexuality.
During a joint interview with former Prime Minister Tony Blair, Sirleaf reiterated her support for the current restrictions and said, “We like ourselves just the way we are.” Blair — a long-time supporter of equality for gays and lesbians — winced uncomfortably at Sirleaf’s answers:
SIRLEAF: We’re not going to sign any such law [to decriminalize homosexuality] … I won’t sign any law that has to do with that area. None what so ever. We like ourselves just the way we are….We’ve got certain traditional values in our society that we’d like to preserve.
Last year, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on nations around the world to treat gay rights as human rights, while the United Nations and the UK have similarly urged African countries to repeal their antiquated anti-gay laws. But rather than toning down the rhetoric, lawmakers in Libera have introduced two bills that would “make a person guilty of a second-degree felony if he or she ‘seduces, encourages or promotes another person of the same gender to engage in sexual activities’” and “would make gay marriage a crime punishable by up to 10 years in jail.” Activists also report “at least six homophobic attacks in the capital, Monrovia” in the last six months.
Sirleaf predicted that the mesures won’t make it through the legislature.