Liberian Government Denies It Has Anti-Gay Laws, Says It Is Tolerant, Though Evidence Suggests Otherwise

The Liberian government is defending remarks made by Nobel Peace Laureate and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf ito the UK's Guardian newspaper.

SirleafSirleaf was asked if she would sign a law decriminalizing homosexuality.

Said Sirleaf:

"We like ourselves just the way we are…We've got certain traditional values in our society we'd like to preserve."

The U.S. State Department expressed concern about the remarks and said it would look into them.

Now, AFP reports:

In a letter to the Guardian seen by AFP Friday, the Liberian government said there were no anti-gay laws "and as such the president could not be defending a law on homosexuality."

Voluntary sodomy is a criminal offence in the West African country and can result in up to three years imprisonment, according to a lawyer consulted by AFP. However this year two new laws were introduced by lawmakers in a bid to toughen the punishment, including one which would make it a first-degree felony.

"What the president is on record as saying is that any law brought before her regarding homosexuality will be vetoed. This statement also applies to an initial attempt by two members of the Liberian legislature to introduce tougher laws targeting homosexuality," the letter said. It added that the government believed current legislation was sufficient. "The reality is that the status quo in Liberia has been one of tolerance and no one has ever been prosecuted under that law.

PonponArchie Ponpon (pictured) and Abraham Kamara, two activists with Movement for the Defence of Gays and Lesbians in Liberia (Modegal), have been confronted by angry mobs in recent weeks, causing them to seek safety at the police station.

The BBC reported:

When the two activists tried to get their organisation officially registered by the government, Mr Ponpon says their "article of incorporation was denied".

"We wrote to the president complaining, but she has not responded," he says.

The home of Ponpon's mother was burned down: "He suspects it was an arson attack by people who do not support his stance. 'Since this incident, my mother has been in hiding,' he says."

Comments

  1. Ricco says

    I am surprised that the Norwegian Nobel Committee would award the Nobel Peace Prize to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

    It should not surprise me. They did award the prize to Barak Obama. Could there be anything more oxymoronic than awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to a sitting, any sitting U.S. President?

    Clearly, the Norwegian Nobel Committee do not understand the precepts of peace, and should confine their laudatory efforts to chemistry, physics, physiology and medicine, and literature.

  2. Opinionated says

    @Ricco Actually if you think about it, Obama has done a lot to foster peace around the world since being in office and has once again built up our relationships around the world as well. On the domestic front he has also done a lot for gays and lesbians and on that note on the global stage too at the UN and elsewhere. In short, clearly Obama shouldn’t be compared to this president whose close minded views are starting to shadow her prize.

    On a side note they certainly do need to give more thought for the Nobel Peace prize and I agree, giving it to Obama was a bit much but he is proving to be a worth candidate thus far.

  3. Bob R says

    @RICCO: I agree with you. Moms Mabley of Liberia should not have been given a “Peace Prize” and neither should Obama. First, I don’t think either have done any real work in the name of world peace. Obama’s expansion of the war in Afghanistan and his use of drones to kill innocent civilians should be instant dis-qualifiers. Second, I think the Nobel committee has a very loose definition of the word “peace”. Third: maybe the prize isn’t for past or current actions towards promoting peace in the world, but is an incentive for the selectee to give promoting world peace a try? At least Obama has not attacked Iran. Yet.

  4. TampaZeke says

    I ANY country in the world should be expected to value, protect and promote liberty and justice for ALL it would be a country founded entirely for and by former slaves.

  5. Fenrox says

    Going about this all wrong. You can’t just enter a new society and impose your ways, you have to make a case. YES gay people deserve rights but CLEARLY the people do not want it. So what do you do? You change the people’s minds!

    I imagine most gay people have this happen at some point, where you change a straight persons mind. Many bigoted people are not friends with the object of their bigotry. We need to start HELPING the activists over there.

  6. Leroy Laflamme says

    Anyone know what the monetary value of her Nobel prize was? I know she had to share it with two other recipients, but beyotch must have got enough to drop in at Chanel on her way home to pick up a power suit.

  7. gaylib says

    “You can’t just enter a new society and impose your ways, you have to make a case. YES gay people deserve rights but CLEARLY the people do not want it. So what do you do? You change the people’s minds!”

    Gee, if only we had done that with Hitler…moron.

  8. RiccoRicco says

    OPINIONATED . . . I have thought about it. What you need to consider is that a man, or woman of peace, say on the caliber of Martin Luther King Jr, or Mahatma Gandhi, or even former president Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, who, prior to his presidency, was a leader of the armed anti-apartheid forces, prepared, as a VERY last effort, to engage in guerrilla warfare if their efforts of sabotage failed, was a man of peace on par with the man he strove to emulate: fellow Laureate Mahatma Gandhi.

    Of course, you are correct, OPINIONATED, Barak has done, if not all he could, at least what he thought he could (which is not quite the same thing), to foster peace around the world . . .but the same can also be said of President Nixon, who was most famous for normalizing relationships with China. The same could also be said of many former U.S. presidents, and former Secretary of States too . . . BUT the fact is Barak Obama has presided over two concurrent wars, and has instituted many of Bush’s war-like policies, including torture, and indefinite detention of anyone suspected of terrorist connections, even American citizens, without a trial.

    The inherent nature of the office of the President of the United States is not one of peace, which is why I said it was oxymoronic to award the Nobel Peace Prize to ANY sitting U.S. President. One can be president of the United States, and do all in his/her power to find peaceful resolutions, whenever possible, but ultimately one cannot be both a man/woman of peace and President of the United States. whatever his/her intentions.

    As the old adage states: The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

  9. Sebastian says

    Guess they are now trying to back pedal as some of the money from ‘developed’ countries will stop flowing in, but, sadly, any money not coming in will be replaced by US based ‘Christians’ who I put all this homophobic hate on in Sub-Saharan Africa.

  10. Opinionated says

    @RICCO – Now fully understand where you are coming from with the oxymoronic nature of a United States President, the commander in chief of the armed force no less, being giving a noble prize. Good point.

  11. Ricco says

    OPINIONATED, there is much about Obama I do not like, but I agree with everything you said about him.

    I did vote for him . . . and I have not bothered to vote on anything since Carter and Regan ran against each other. I do not anticipate voting again for the rest of my life . . . but that is a whole different issue.

    Suffice it to say that I think Obama has done a lot for gays, and I am quite thrilled with the repeal of DADT.

    I am also sure that he has already evolved on the issue of gay marriage, but he is only waiting to be re-elected. Michele Obama speaking out on the other day on the issue of DOMA was as much the president speaking out.

    I believe he will use the last four years (if re-elected) to have DOMA declared unconstitutional, and advocate for gay marriage.

    And that is quite gratifying to think about.

  12. Opinionated says

    @RICCO Here here sir! And if there is anything we can do to bring you back into the voting fold please let us know! We informed voters are in short supply good sir.

  13. Howard says

    It amazes me that all the comments are about appearance/clothes and who does or does not deserve the Nobel peace prize.

    Not a single person has discussed the courage and bravery of gay activists like Archie Ponppon or Abraham Kamara, and the horrific conditions in which they have to try and live.

  14. gregv says

    “If ANY country in the world should be expected to value, protect and promote liberty and justice for ALL it would be a country founded entirely for and by former slaves.”

    @Tampazeke: On the one hand, one should think so. But one would also think that abused kids would grow up to never want to see another kid abused.
    The reality is that some people come out of trauma having internalized the principle of wanting to end the abuse of anyone and everyone.
    But a huge number of people take from experiences with violent and abusive situations (like slavery) an internalization of the idea that “abusing people is normal and okay” and/or that it’s okay “as long as it’s someone else besides me who’s the victim.”

    Getting a society to come around to the idea of promoting safety and fairness and liberty for everyone is a very slow evolution.

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