The State Department is speaking out against Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s recent remarks in favor of criminalizing homosexuality. During a press conference yesterday, spokeswoman Victoria Nuland reiterated Secretary Hillary Clinton’s contention that gay rights are human rights and promised to “express some surprise and concern” with Liberian officials over the President’s sentiments:
QUESTION: Okay. And then is this something — should — since you’re in the habit now of answering hypothetical questions, should they go ahead and approve these laws? Is that something — given the Secretary’s speech in Geneva, which was quite strong, is this something that could affect U.S. assistance?… I mean, in general, if countries go ahead — if countries take measures that discriminate against homosexuals, is that something that under this Administration could lead to a review or a suspension or anything of U.S. assistance?
MS. NULAND: I think if there were major pieces of legislation that discriminated against any group, we would have to take that into account in our relationship and it would be a cause for concern.
During a rather awkward interview with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Sirleaf — a Noble prize winner — reiterated her support for Liberia’s restrictions against homosexual behavior, adding, “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.